The Day After
Tuesday morning, I woke up with some serious nerves. I bought donuts for the office, and ended up eating about three by the time I finally gave up at 3:30 to head home. Some friends and I had gone in on a rental house for the night – five couples plus four little ones, watching the returns and celebrating the election of the first woman president.
We had lots of food, lots of drinks, lots of games, and some incredibly thoughtful prizes put together by one friend, who was excited to let her young daughter stay up to see the results.
Things obviously took a turn. Once it looked less and less like things were going to go our way, I started to shut down. I paced, I puttered, I refreshed Twitter. I stress ate until my body turned numb and my appetite disappeared.
At around 9:45, I said I’d had enough and went to our room. But closing the door didn’t block out the sound of those damned Hunger Games horns on MSNBC. I played with my phone, I tossed, and I turned. At some point, the race was called for the Republican nominee. I told my husband I just needed to go, so I took the car and drove home, crawled into bed, and stared at my cats.
I was about to shut down for the night when I saw that Ijeoma Oluo was broadcasting live on Facebook. I’ve never been happier for social media than I was in that moment, because what she said made sense. I also cried for the first time that night, those hiccup-y sobs that don’t come all that often for me. She reminded all of us that the world didn’t change last night; we just got a diagnosis, a confirmation of what the country is. And that we had two months before the man would be inaugurated.
I attended a protest tonight for a bit before I had to run to an appointment. I didn’t fully agree with all the speakers – I don’t think I can call myself a full-fledged socialist, and I don’t see Hillary Clinton and the Republican Nominee as basically the same, or her as the lesser of two evils. I saw a woman with whom I disagreed on some issues, but who was more qualified than any other presidential candidate we’ve had. But that’s not a belief many of these protestors shared, and that’s fine, because we did still all agree that we need to do everything in our power to stop this man and his policies at every turn.
I’ve seen people talking about the good people who voted for the Republican nominee, [edit: as though people we see giving to their community, loving their neighbors and acting as we think good people generally act can’t also be racist]. When I see that, all I think about is the willful ignorance of people who don’t want to believe that their family members who voted for that man are racist, sexist, and homophobic. Because the thing is, they are. There isn’t a way around that. They are. They might not be a Klan member, but EVERY white person is racist. It’s a fact. We must work actively every day to not let our biases lead to discrimination, but we can’t grow up in this world and not be.
And the people who voted for that man may not think that they are racist or homophobic, but by putting their economic fears above the reality of the harm this man will do to people of color, gay people, immigrants, trans people, and women, they chose their own perceived benefit over the safety of those groups of people. That’s foul at best.
In the coming days, I want to harness this frustration, because I need to not lose the energy I have. We already set aside money to donate to charity; I want us to be much more strategic about what we do. We can spend more time supporting individuals and groups that will need it in the coming weeks.
No one deserves this man – or his vice president – to be the one making policies that will impact their lives. We need to aggressively fight this. And white people, we need to be the ones putting ourselves on the line the most, because (especially the straight, cis, male ones among us) we are the safest right now.
We will work to change things in this country, and right now I’m not sure how to do that. But in the meantime, we protect our friends, and strangers too, who are feeling scared. Immigrants. Muslims. Jews. Women. People of color. Trans people. Members of the LGBTQ community. All the people that this man has demonstrated he hates, we need to love, and protect. I may have nothing but disgust for this man, but (even with all I said above), I do still believe that love can win out, eventually.
He is not my president. Tomorrow, and every day after, we find a way to fight back.
[You might notice I haven’t said this man’s name in this post anywhere. I’ve promised myself that I won’t say his name, or type his name, or do anything that legitimizes his presidency. This is not some Hermione-disapproving Voldemort thing; I just don’t think he deserves even the respect of a mention by name.]
*I have edited one sentence since I posted this (it is clearly marked as such). I made this change after the first two comments below were published, as that first comment reminded me that I had poorly articulated at least one of my points.