On my emotionally healthy days, I can navigate my way to a middle-ground. I can spot the minute details of a situation and find commonality. I am willing to erase the line in the sand that I unfairly drew (out of fear? self-righteousness?) and move forward.
Since November 8th, I can’t say that I’ve been especially emotionally healthy. I have said things that I don’t necessarily regret, because I felt the conviction to say such things so undeniably deeply. Because what I saw before me wasn’t a line that I drew — millions of others did.
In almost a cyclical-like manner, I cried; I protested; I got angry; I had moments of clarity.
I have met with my friends who feel the pang of this more real than I do. I have had one friend, who is gay and African-American, look at me and say, “Everything has changed. Everything has changed. Everything has changed.” This will never leave me.
Granted, we are barely entering a week and a half into this, but I’m still finding it hard to hear the “other side” of our shared reality. Wise or unwise, I reached a point as to write-off friends who quite literally threw a party in favor of their beloved red states. The mere sight of balloons and a printed out map of Crayon red states made my stomach turn to knots. To me, it was a clear celebration of an undoing of the hard-fought and hard-won civil rights and liberties. My friend Alyce, a magician with words, put it this way:
“I am trying and will continue to try to be gracious, but I cannot understand. I will not pretend that we see freedom or faith or leadership in the same way.”
I’ve since sat down with one (1) friend whose friendship I cherish immensely. We actually avoided(?) the topic for a little while, because I think we both knew where we stood. But as we gently eased into it, I had to step out of my echo chamber to find my listening ears again. She told me her perspective, and my heart and mind tried to understand. Because I know her and I know her story, it was hard not to feel — not wrong — but sad.
Do I really believe that every person who voted for Trump/Pence is racist? No. However, I ultimately cannot overlook the implications that this has on all communities of color. My hope is that whomever did vote for them, for more personal reasons, is deeply uncomfortable and angry at the thought of those being placed into power at the highest levels of government. I also hope we — those who identify with white culture — will begin looking at ourselves and our perceptions; we should be challenging the cultural narrative we have been fed.
There is a lot of work to be done, but it starts with us.
And I want to speak to the unveiling happening. Yes, of course racism, discrimination and prejudices are real. We should not be in shock because of this. We should be heartbroken that it feels like the hard work of Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X or any other human rights activist has been shattered. We hold the truths of these moments in our hands and our hearts, but there is pain and anger in seeing hate have power (again).
There’s that old saying that goes, “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” Friends, this unveiling isn’t to be celebrated with relief. What’s the equal and opposite reaction we are going to see?
- A surge in support for communities of color = A surge in discriminatory legislative, judicial and executive power.
- A very real threat of fanatical Islamic terrorism (ISIS) = A very real threat of fanatical Christian terrorism (KKK).
Please, don’t forget what role we play in this. There is a lot of work to be done. We may be uncomfortable for a while. But for those of us who see this for what it is — who condemn the hatred in every form — we are all approaching the line together to reject normalization of, what’s now, very real.