Bridging The Gap

Finding common ground in the election results.

Photo Courtesy of picography.co

The day after the election I grabbed my phone, bracing myself for all the social media opinions I’d soon be scrolling through. What I didn’t realize was that my Facebook newsfeed would be divided right down the middle — people who were outraged and heartbroken by the results, and people who were elated and relieved.

I read posts by friends saying, ‘who are these faceless people who voted for Trump and won’t admit it’ and I thought to myself — if you log onto my Facebook feed they have faces, are proudly admitting it and they are people I love. I also read things like ‘Waa waa waa, we didn’t get our way so we’re going to throw a fit … get over it, move on.’

I have to say, I pride myself in the fact that these extremes were at play. It shows that my life has been enriched by so many voices, opinions and beliefs. I have white, black, brown, Christian, Muslim and gay friends and I’m hearing all of their voices. I realize, not everyone’s newsfeed looks like mine. A lot of them look or reflect mostly the way the user personally looks and believes. So, I find myself sitting in a very unique position.

I want to first say, I hear you. Both sides. I hear the people who say ‘I couldn’t vote for Hillary based on policy issues or moral values and I’m not an uneducated redneck’ and I hear the people who say ‘I couldn’t vote for Trump based off his xenophobic, sexist, racist rhetoric’ — I hear you. It’s so easy for us to start spouting off generalizations and assumptions and it seems like both sides just want someone to listen. I hear you if you voted for Trump and are saying you aren’t a racist, bigoted, Neanderthal. And I believe you.

But, we cannot simply just move on because the election is over now. The election may be— but the effects have only just begun. My parents moved to the United States from India well before I was born — so this has always been my home. And in my home, I have mostly been treated with the utmost respect. And yet, I have also been called racial slurs such as ‘sand nigger’ and ‘towel head.’ I have Indian friends who have been called ‘slurpee-maker’ or been told to go back to their country. As a result of the recent election — we have seen more reports of this type of speech being used, even among our children in our schools.

Did Donald Trump suddenly make everyone racist? No, he didn’t. However, as my cousin pointed out, ‘it has unveiled a level of bigotry that has always been in our country,’ and that is scary, so scary for some. So, instead of saying let’s move on— we need to leave space for people. Though I haven’t personally seen much hate or racism pointed at me — I can say I have experienced it more than most of my white friends have. I have walked into a room with my head hung lower because of the color of my skin and the worry that I wasn’t seen as an equal. If you can’t understand this — if you do not have the ability to actually comprehend this because you have never been in that skin or those shoes — then you offer an ear. And you sit and you cry for the injustice and you put your arm around the hurting and you stand with them and for them and you let them be sad and you acknowledge their pain and their fear.

I’m not saying be sad that Trump won if you voted for him. I’m saying sit with your neighbor in their pain and acknowledge that Inauguration Day is coming soon and people who you can’t necessarily identify with will wake up to a scarier world. So, be there in the trenches with them, and offer a listening ear. Rise Up when they are too weak to do it themselves and when they’re finally ready — champion them to rise up with you!

Trump is here for at least the next 4 years. I can respect that. He’s our future president and I can agree with that meme going around saying we have to hope he doesn’t fail because it’s like being on the same airplane and wanting the pilot to fail. No one wants that. But, we must not sit back with our oxygen mask on feeling safe while the person in the next row is hysterically crying and can’t figure out how to put her own oxygen mask on. We don’t just sit a row back and tell her to stop overreacting. We must get up from our comfy seat and go sit next to her. We must grab that oxygen mask and we must help her put it on — we must help her feel and stay safe.

The most compassionate voices to me post-election have been from my white friends saying ‘I’m sorry I don’t understand and never will — that you would even have to think that someone could yell racist names at you in front of your 3 little boys. I’m shaking and crying from the injustice of it all. What can I do? How I can bring anyone feeling on the outside — in.” Those are the voices that have been like a balm to my fractured heart. Rise up to racism, sexism, bigotry, xenophobia. RISE UP to the people who call me a ‘sand nigger’ — because I’m honestly too scared to do it all by myself. RISE UP for the Muslim girl that was walking to the bus stop when a white man yelled ‘it’s open season on your kind soon’ because I guarantee you she’s scared, too. RISE UP for those who have been sexually assaulted and are now afraid because their future president can say things about how he ‘grabs p*ssy’ and if the president of the United States of America can say it — then maybe the guy who sexually harassed or assaulted her somehow gets a pass, too. Rise up to show her there are no free passes on harassment or assault.

Despite our differences in faith, opinions or ideas about the world, we need each other. Let’s find the people who don’t feel like they are in the “in crowd” they are so very near-nearer than you may think. They are the black, brown, LGBTQ, Muslim, disabled, poor and so many more. Let’s lavish love by opening our arms and our doors to the hurting and broken. I am convinced there are far more of us who love than hate. So, let us all rise to the occasion. Because regardless of whether we agree or disagree about life, religion, or politics — we need each other now more than ever.

So, let’s stand up together,

and let’s bridge that gap.

-Lisa Hanchinamani Barton


Originally published at kingdomcome-lisa.blogspot.com on January 6, 2017.