So, America. Here we are.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you must know about the state of this country right now.

We’re not at the threshold of the apocalypse. But for many people, it feels that way. Did you make any effort to understand why?

For many Americans, their basic human rights are suddenly under threat. Not because the government has immediately jumped into action to take them away, but because a part of the population fueled by hatred has become a lot more vocal. And a lot more active. The protests are a push back against that. A way to say that these actions will not be met with submission.

I’ve seen plenty of people admonish those who have marched in protest against the election results, all while completely ignoring what happened in 2008 and 2012 following the election and re-election of President Obama. (That link opens to some serious incidents of documented racism, and threats and acts of violence, so be forewarned before proceeding if you’re not in a state to process that at the moment.)

I’ve also seen plenty of Trump supporters scold Democrats for being “too sensitive” and “throwing a tantrum” because “their feelings got hurt.” Meanwhile, those same people lash out when the labels racist, sexist, and bigot are thrown around, even if they haven’t been called out by name.

And sure, I get it, not all Trump supporters are That Kind of Trump Supporter(TM), and yes, rural America is far from healed, but the fact of the matter is, a lot of Americans are now playing a wide-scale game of Russian Roulette.

The fact is, the people who feel and, yes, ARE threatened by a Trump presidency face an even larger threat at the hands of his supporters. The people who are out in the country acting on a newly validated sense of hatred. The people who are painting swastikas and hate rhetoric on school campuses and chanting “Build the Wall” to taunt their Latinx classmates. The people who are hurling slurs at and lashing out against people of color, LGBT citizens, Muslim citizens, Jewish citizens, and the list goes on. The people who are more than okay with a white nationalist slithering into the role of top White House advisor.

If your reaction upon reading this is to immediately snap into a defensive mode, please take a moment to come back out. If you start talking about how you should not be lumped in with “those” people, you will prove that you will only ever put your own injured feelings ahead of the threatened safety many of your friends and loved ones are now feeling. You will prove that you cannot be trusted, because when they tried to express their fear and pain, you demanded silence.

And that means that they cannot count on you to help them stand against the racism, sexism, xenophobia, and plague of other forms of hatred that have been exaggerated by this election.

It is easy to be dismissive. It is easy to ignore suffering when it does not pertain to you. It is easy to embrace hatred.

It takes courage to speak out and hold your own party accountable for their actions. It takes hard work to combat all those things you don’t want to be labeled as. It takes courage to examine yourself and be willing to make yourself better. It takes you actively proving that you are worth trusting by pushing back against the racism, sexism, xenophobia, and every other toxic thing that is swirling around in the Republican camp now.

And yes, I’ve seen those things exist in the Democratic camp, too. But I’ve seen them called out far more than I’ve seen the Republicans calling out the vile things that gained traction under Trump’s rhetoric, regardless of whether he meant them all or not.

So. If you voted Trump (or even Johnson… I see you, Bernie or Bust crowd, and don’t flatter yourself as some enlightened splinter faction…) I hope you’re willing to do what’s actually needed to separate yourself from the toxicity that permeates your side. A lot of people are condemning the protests and calling for unification. You need to be worthy of the word.

You will find yourself confronted by anger. That will not magically go away. Brace yourself, and then let it go. It will take time to heal the mistrust, and you have to be willing to work towards it. But you need to be willing to start somewhere. Be rational, be kind, be patient, but more than anything, be willing to listen.

I’m sure these words will fail to change anyone’s mind, and for many, it’s just too little. But I come from a place torn between every side. And I fear this country will tear itself apart.

To my own friends and loved ones, be safe.

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