This is my first attempt to write or say much of anything about the election results. Mainly because I’m not exactly sure how I feel and because I’ve had a hell of a hard time putting words to much of anything lately.
Last night my friend told me about a “subway therapist” at the 14th street station whose been providing post-it’s as cathartic relief:
I liked that idea because my thoughts are not coherent right now. They are coming out in spits and bursts and colorful post-it sized questions and ruminations. Having said that, here’s what’s on my internal subway wall these days:
I can’t believe that racist, sexist, low life fucker won the highest office in this nation. Shame on you, America.
We clearly have zero sense of morality if that’s the kind of leader we chose. And the degree to which his disgusting, hurtful, ignorant actions have been justified is beyond anything I ever imagined.
The one reason I am glad this happened is that the Christian Right can no longer say this is about Family Values or “Christian” Values or Prayer in Schools or whatever other kind of bullshit they espouse in the name of upholding white male patriarchy. Their agenda is about upholding the status quo, keeping women out of the workforce and shaming women who fall outside of their neatly-defined moral boxes. Their agenda was never about Christianity and, though I can’t believe someone as extreme as Donald Trump had to be the one to expose them for what they’re really about, I’m glad it happened.
And for those who hung on to the abortion argument until the bitter end, shame on you too. If you were truly “pro life” you would care just as much about the countless individuals and groups of people that Trump made fun of, demeaned and threatened during the course of his campaign. Where is your vote in protection of these people? And, when I think about your fierce anti-abortion stance I really have to wonder what that’s really all about. Because I know women who’ve had abortions and some of them are black and poor and some of them are white and unmarried. And those happen to be two groups of people I have seen you repeatedly be unkind to and judgmental of and I really don’t picture that changing if they decide to follow your moral directives and go through with their pregnancies. So please, for the love of God, please stop pretending you are pro life and let’s have a conversation about this is really about.
As an individual, I have been doing some soul searching…wondering how I personally may have contributed to this mess we are in by my actions or lack thereof. I’ve always cared about racism and sexism and combatting hate and I think at some point long ago got tired and discouraged and generally flustered in talking to other white folks about these things that matter to me so much to me. So I (subconciously, perhaps) decided to just put my head down and do the work addressing all of these “isms”. Work that fulfills me and allows me to tackle structural inequalities without having to get into shouting matches with people. Work in which I am often the racial minority and provides me an opportunity to support and uplift and (hopefully) provide better and more just spaces for people of color. Or, at the very least, let them know there are white folks who get it and who care, however imperfectly that is communicated on a day to day basis.
And this election has showed me that is simply not enough. I often don’t know how to love white folks who are so unlike me. I don’t necessarily know how to be an ally through challenging my white friends and family members and challenging the dynamics of white spaces and not just disowning whole groups of white people whom I don’t perceive to be “woke.” So, this is my challenge. And it is scary to think that taking up the task of interrupting white racism may create tense moments in friendships or re-opening cans of worms with family members or make me feel like a blubbering idiot when my emotions get the best of me.
Since the election results came in, I’ve heard a lot of rhetoric about how this was poor and working class white America’s cry for help, their remedy to their own voicelessness in this country. And I believe that’s true and that we need to really look at what’s going on there. But there are other groups who’ve felt voiceless and helpless and in dicey economic circumstances for far longer. And when they blame their struggles on poor policy and “the establishment” they are often told to try harder, have more work ethic and be good parents. So, as much as I feel for poor white America’s plight, it is also their privilege to be able to address it and be heard through our established form of democracy.
To be fair, some of these ramblings probably took up a whole wall of post-it’s unto themselves. I hope I eventually have a whole country full of them.