Last night I watched the news with a sinking heart. Because the signs were there. The GOP chose its candidate, and the candidate they chose represents their values. They tried to disclaim him, but their actions spoke louder than words.
“This does not represent who I am as a person.” How many times do we hear this response when an individual has committed a racist act? When people show you who they are, you should believe them. Because the best predictor of future action is past action.
So they claimed not to support his words, but they supported his bid for the presidency. Like John McCain, they supported him because he is a Republican. McCain said he would support him because he believed in the GOP and its values. We’ve seen those values.
Black people shoved and pushed out of political gatherings. A boy in a wheelchair being booed while adults kick his wheelchair on the way out. Throw them out. Because they aren’t a part of the United States the president-elect envisions.
I had hoped beyond hope that the election would not go this way. Because I am a fucking optimist. But deep down I have been holding a knot of fear that started when the candidates were elected.
Those of us who are rational and reasonable people have been too complacent. We have ignored the evidence of our eyes and ears. We thought there was no way that a candidate who openly espoused such racist, sexist, ablist (and other -ist) views could be chosen to lead the United States. Because we believed in a better America.
We have grossly underestimated the power of racism (and other -isms) in our country. For this we will pay the price. For not remembering what Trayvon Martin taught us.
We forgot the people who support the president-elect are the people who we live amongst. They are our friends, our neighbors and maybe even our relatives. The signs were there in my neighborhood. I saw the large campaign signs in the yards. But I also saw the other signs.
Trick-or-treating, a white lady yells at us, “Go back to your own neighborhood!” The children I am escorting are in their own neighborhood. But even if they had been driven in a large van from some unknown dangerous urban locale, who would begrudge four- and five-year-olds ten cents worth of candy? Their neighbors, that’s who. The occupant of another house, which is festively decorated with pumpkins and scarecrows, yells that there are rules for trick-or-treating and specific hours and don’t we know the law?
My neighbor, who certainly seems like a rational and reasonable person, has a “Take Back Our Country” bumper sticker on the back of his car. Because it is not my country. It is his country.
A high school student tells me that many of the members of the Gay-Straight Alliance tell their parents that GSA stands for “Good Student Association.” Because they hear the hateful rhetoric that comes out of the mouths of people they love. A young boy came out to his parents, and the next day committed suicide. My friend said, “Did they want a gay son or no son? Because that was the choice.”
We forget on a regular basis that the white majority sees movement towards equal rights to be “special” rights and privileges. We forget about rape culture. We forget that people of color and women and women of color and LGBTQ and people with disabilities are subjected to abuse on a daily basis. We have to forget. Because.
But the issue isn’t solely one of microaggressions. It’s about institutionalized racism (and other -isms) that is codified into law. It’s about racism (and other -isms) shaping policy.
I have joked about moving to Canada on several occasions. Because I can’t go back to my own country. Because this is my own country.
This is our country and the election has not changed this. This is our country, and there is work to be done.