(Editor’s Note: As you’ll notice, I started this post the day after the Presidential Election. I left it languishing in my Drafts folder, mostly because I felt I was still working through my emotions about the outcome. Reading it over today, my feelings are not much different from this initial reaction. So I’m giving it a quick edit, adding a couple of paragraphs and sending it out into the world. —vicster)
My thoughts and feelings today are thousands of snakes, curled into a big ball. To disturb one causes the whole ball to hiss and spit, thousands of fangs exposed. I find it very difficult to process what happened in America yesterday. I can’t really say that I’m shocked, just that I didn’t want to believe it. I really wanted to believe that we, as a nation, could put one foot forward. One step in the direction of progress. Just one.
Clearly, that was expecting too much.
But the signs were there and they’ve always been there. As white people, we have a collective bigotry, and we foster a patriarchal structure meant to keep women and people of color In Their Place, in some misguided belief that it somehow keeps US safe (as if we need more protection in our society).
Those of you taking a breath to say #notallwhitepeople can really just STFU right now. You are
part of the problem. I am the problem. WE are the problem.
We own this.
We own our Shadow.
He is that part of us, disturbed, cruel, belligerent. A bully. He is our internal hatred, our envy. The part of us that insists that we’re self-made (as we look down on others who ask for at least an equal chance), when we have been given so many advantages and a safety net, knit especially for us. He is that part of ourselves that we trytrytry to hide. To deny that he is exists within us.
And then he began to emerge from the muck. He won the GOP primary and we still tried to deny he exsists in us.
“BUT I DIDN’T VOTE FOR HIM. I’M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR HIM.”
And that’s our problem, right there. Most of us who oppose Trump got lazy. We thought that Trump constantly reminding America just how dispicable he is would be enough to do our job for us. We thought that simply casting our votes for Clinton (or Stein, or Johnson, or writing in Sanders or your pet betta fish) would be enough.
We got that wrong. (I know you Bernie supporters out there really want to believe that he was the left’s only hope of beating Trump. But by now you are reminded that he and many of his supporters are openly anti-Semitic, in addition to being unfalteringly misogynist. Therefore, there was no guarantee that he would have won out over Trump, given how much bigotry and misogyny Americans seem to be comfortable overlooking.)
Donald Trump is awful. Even most of the people who voted for him know that. And yet, there they were on Election Day: the frogs, trusting the crocodile to provide them safe passage through the swamp. (I wonder how many of them will be genuinely surprised when the crocodile chews them up and spits out their bones? )
And now the darkest parts of our society now feel empowered in their bigotry, their misogyny, their hatred of any part of society that is not them. In the thirteen days since Election Night, hate crimes have increased, we have Nazis who are bleating “heil Trump” and an incoming administration taking shape that threatens to decimate our environment, not to mention the liberty and safety of millions of Americans.
So…yeah. We are well past the time for blaming everyone else (the media, anyone who supported any candidate at any time, James Comey or Vladmir Putin) for this dystopian nightmare that should have never made it past the shitty first draft of our collective NaNoWriMo novel.
We own this mess, but we own the solution, too.
If we want to live in an America where health care and privacy is a basic human right, where all adults are free to love and marry whoever their heart desires, where every American can get a drink of safe, clean water, where black Americans can go about their daily lives, free from the fear of being murdered in the streets by our overly militarized police departments, where everyone is free to practice their religion (or not observe any religion at all), where people are put to work building an environmentally sustainable energy infrastructure, and where we move toward energy independence from oil…if any of that means anything to us, it is up to ALL OF US to get to work. We must oppose any rollbacks to legislation that protects the rights of Americans or protects our environment and any new legislation that threatens the survival of poor and middle class Americans, that threatens to tear apart immigrant families, that demonizes people of certain faiths, and that threatens to destroy our environment.
We must confront bigotry, in all of its forms. We have allowed our society to normalize the slaughter of black people on our streets. We must rise up against institutional racism and misogyny by removing the elected judges and officials who continue to sanction it. We must rise up against religious intolerance. We must rise up against xenophobia. We must rise up against Wall Street executives, who are the real reason why the middle class is mired in shitty, stagnant wages (though the GOP has managed to convince much of White Middle Class Americans that it is because of immigrants).
We face an enormous battle, one with many fronts. We can’t afford to wait for Someone Else to pick up the standard for us. YOU are that Someone. I am that Someone.