We Are Better Than This.
November 11, 2016|Posted in: Random Observations
For the past 18 months or so, I have avoided posting or sharing anything political on this blog. I’ve been tempted to—oh boy, have I been tempted to—but I decided long ago that I wanted to keep this blog free of the vitriol and divisiveness surrounding the presidential election.
I can no longer be silent.
For the past few days and months, I’ve been witnessing the crumbling of an America I barely recognize. After staying up until the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday morning, I finally fell asleep, not knowing for sure who would be our next president. Like millions of Americans, I awoke, terrified to my core, to learn that Donald Trump had been elected.
Let me be clear, and I am begging you to keep reading, even if you disagree: I am not a Trump supporter. I did not vote for him for numerous reasons. As the mother of a daughter, I could never justify voting for a man who treats women with such disdain and disrespect. As a woman who has friends who are immigrants or who are the parents of immigrant children, I could never justify voting for a man who wants to enact what amounts to–let’s face it—ethnic cleansing. He cheats, he lies, he games the system. I could go on and on. This is my opinion, and I am entitled to it, just as you are entitled to yours.
Are you still reading? I hope so.
Yes, the deed has been done, and nearly half of all voters wanted this man to be president. And people are angry. Really, really angry, myself included.
Now, unless you decided to sever all communication with the outside world in the wake of the election (I’ve been tempted to do that, too), you know that the past few days have been filled with everything from peaceful protests to full-blown riots in the streets. People from both sides of the argument are being beaten, mocked, spit at and threatened. All day long, my Facebook and Twitter feeds have been filled with story after story of hate. A Saudi student, killed. Muslims, dragged and beaten. Non-white children–American citizens–being forced to listen to chants of “build that wall” and “white power” from their own classmates. Black high school students being called “cotton pickers” at a school in Pennsylvania. White college students in black face, celebrating and taking selfies in their dorm rooms. And the KKK? Well, they’re planning a Trump victory parade in North Carolina.
It’s as if someone lifted a rock and all of these little racist insects started crawling out, empowered by the fake orange glow of the country’s President-Elect.
This is not my America.
I’m not naïve. I know these types of people exist. I’ve encountered them multiple times in my own life, and several of them have shown their true colors over the course of this election. Therefore, I’m not surprised. After all, it’s only been a few decades since the Civil Rights movement, and plenty of people are still rooted in (or have grown up believing in) the false superiority of the white man.
Yet, I was naïve in other ways. I was naïve enough to think we, as a country, were making progress. I was obviously and very painfully wrong.
If this election has proved anything, it’s that racism, sexism and xenophobia are alive and well in this country. I am embarrassed, heartbroken and scared for those of us who have already been, and who inevitably will be, directly affected by Trump’s victory. Those who voted for Trump claim they’re not racists and, for the most part, I believe them, even if some of them, through either inexperience or sheer unawareness, don’t realize that their ill-informed actions and “but I’m just joking” words show very much the opposite.
Indeed, we are at a crossroads. As I see it, we have two choices: We can either continue to let this election tear us all limb from limb, or we can stop the madness and recognize that we’re all in this together. Those of us who believe in a true United States of America–emphasis on UNITED–must band together to do what’s right.
Do I want Trump as my president? Hell no. I can’t even say the word “president” in front of his name without inducing my gag reflex. I don’t agree with his ideology, and never will. But still, we must face reality. Come January, he will be, for better or for worse, this country’s president. For the sake of this country–for the sake of our CHILDREN, for Pete’s sake–we have to speak out and denounce hate. Enough, already. Despite what Trump insinuated, all Mexicans are not rapists. All Muslims are not terrorists. All African Americans are not inner-city drug dealers. And all rural white men are not members of the KKK. Most of us are smart enough to recognize that.
We must come together, or I fear that we, as a country, will cross over a threshold from which we’ll never return. We need to implore Trump and his advisors to stand up and disavow racists and their hate crimes, and to stop, for the love of all that is true, the “dog-whistling” to his alt-right followers.
Finally, we need to remember, most of all, that this country is a nation of immigrants. There is not one of us – not a single one of us –whose ancestry is purely American. We’re Italian, German, Polish, Russian, Mexican, African, Chinese, Arab, and so on and so forth. America belongs to all of us, no matter what our race, belief system, religion, gender or sexual orientation. We are teaching our own daughter that the color of your skin doesn’t matter; that it’s what’s inside that counts. This is a lesson that some Americans seem to forget as they grow older.
So please, for the love of each other and for our children, stop with the hate. Please, I am imploring you: be kind to one another. Use your voice and speak out when you hear or see a racist, hateful act. Engage in a random act of kindness toward a stranger who doesn’t look like you. Harness the power of social media for good, instead of spreading misinformation and hateful memes. Many of our nation’s minority groups are feeling lost, fearful and terrorized right now. Please, help them feel not so alone. Help them know they are safe.
The day after the election, I remembered the words of the beloved late poet Maya Angelou, and I hope you find solace in them, too:
You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
To me, these words have more meaning than ever before. Enough with the hate. We are better than this. Together, we can rise.
photo credit: symphony of love Dalai Lama If you can, help others; if you cannot do that, at least do not harm them via photopin (license)