Tuesday, November 15, 2016

For the Other

Please stop telling me how to feel.

Stop telling me to calm down. Stop telling me to get over it. Don’t tell me to relax or to stop being offended.

If you know me, and you care about me, I would be grateful if you would give me a minute; if you would really pay attention.

I am grieving the outcome of this election. I am disheartened, discouraged, and disappointed. I have just recently attained a small degree of emotional health and stability after a crushing personal loss—and this feels like a set-back to me.

You may not understand this. You probably don’t understand it. That’s OK. You don’t have to understand it in order to be empathetic. All you have to do is believe me that this is really how I feel.

I am trying my best to not say unkind things about people who supported Trump. I think I’ve succeeded for the most part—but if I’ve said or written something that feels like a personal attack or insult, please bring it to my attention. I do not want to hurt or offend you. I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, and I would like you to do the same for me.

You say how upset you are by the negativity—as though “negativity” on its own is a bad thing. “Negativity” is the only appropriate response to racism, ethnocentrism, sexism, and violence. No matter who we voted for, we should ALL be negative when we read a story about a young Saudi college student in Wisconsin beaten to death, or middle-school students in Michigan chanting “build the wall” at Latino classmates.

This is why I grieve. This is why I am discouraged, and even afraid for my friends who are Latino, black, gay, Jewish, or Muslim.

White Trump supporters do not, as a group, I presume, feel threatened and afraid when they leave their homes. They don’t wonder if they will be insulted or demeaned or threatened just because of who they are or what they look like.

But the groups that are targeted by Trump and some of his supporters do feel these kinds of threats and fear. The president-elect of the United States has said rude, scary, demeaning, threatening things about them—and some of his supporters take this as license to bring their formerly hidden racism, ethocentrism, misogyny out into the light.

Trump’s America is frightening for some people—entire groups of people. If you could acknowledge this without minimizing it, or contradicting it, or blaming it on the media, it would go a long way to helping those of us who are grieving and/or afraid to believe that this is not the America that you want to see.

Please don’t minimize it by saying it goes both ways.

I know of a few incidents that went the other way—Trump protesters that went too far, a white man who was beaten possibly because he voted for Trump. But these, I believe, are rare events in a backdrop of rising intolerance for the Other.

Pointing out that some Trump supporters have been insulted and even harmed by Trump-opposers does not mitigate the fact that Trump’s presidency, aligned with the KKK and other hate groups, represents an increase in fear and actual danger to at-risk groups. This comparison is another false equivalence in a sea of false equivalencies. It doesn’t even come close to being the same because Trump supporters are the ones who have the power and influence of the President on their side.

I’m not in any way saying that all Trump supporters are racist or sexist or any other “-ist.” I’m not saying you are. I’m saying it’s out there, and it appears to be getting worse.

I started out by telling you about my own grief and discouragement—but none of this is really about me and my feelings. I acknowledge my own white, cis-gender privilege. My sorrow is not for me.

I grieve for the Other. For the immigrant. For the mother of young black men. For a Muslim woman afraid to wear a scarf. For a brown-skinned store owner, for a young woman getting her first job, for a queer student in a classroom.

I am grieving for America.

1 comment:

jeanie said...

Wow this is so well said. Personally I could not vote for Trump because I am a Christian. I kept trying to imagine Jesus voting for him and no matter how hard I tried that image would not form. What would Jesus do - I don't believe he would have voted for Donald Trump!