Yesterday I was walking through the park with my kids, picking up colourful leaves and saying hello to passers by when one of them asked me where my accent was from. I told her it was British and her immediate reaction to that was to ask me what I thought of the elections. My response was easy: “a pile of steaming dog poop”. She looked at me and with defiance in her eyes and voice said “well I voted for Trump”. I told her to have a nice day and continued along our way, as I was not going to give her what she wanted. It just made me really, really happy that the park was full of people from all different backgrounds, because that is what the US is for me, a diverse, rich and beautiful country.
I’m devastated. I freely admit to it. I’ve watched with a close eye the unfolding of this election from the sidelines, wondering if the people would do the right thing, and elect the right person to run this country. It dawned on me months and months ago that Trump wasn’t the joke most people were saying he was, and that with every passing week he was gaining in popularity. What surprised me the most was that with every disgusting comment on Mexicans or Muslims or women or the LGBT community he STILL kept getting brownie points. It honestly appeared like it was a farce, that it was all a joke and that he was really just making sure that Clinton won the election by a landslide, but I knew it wasn’t.
Around 7pm on Tuesday evening I was bathing the kids and took a glance at the polls that had just started to come in. It was right then that I realised that he was going to win. I burst into tears in the bathroom and then immediately tried to pull myself together in front of the kids. All of that anxiety that had been building up over the past 8 months landed on my chest and felt like a ton of bricks. Once the kids were asleep I tried to relax but every 20 minutes or so I refreshed the polls and checked my friends’ Facebook statuses, knowing that the inevitable had happened. The US population had voted for Donald Trump to be their next president.
So yes, I’m devastated. My first question was how on earth could anyone in their right mind actually vote for this person?! Well, apparently lots of people. And then I started to worry about my children and my partner and my friends. Trump’s rhetoric has given a lot of people a voice, has legitimized a lot of hatred against immigrants, people of colour, women and the LGBT community. And this has already started to show in reactions all over the country where people are being attacked, called ugly names, taunted and threatened. Children are calling each other racial slurs at school, and fights are breaking out between people of all different creeds and religions.
So please, first of all, people, stop telling us that it’s time to accept it and just wait and see what he’s going to do, because it “may not be that bad”. Please stop telling us that we are just promoting the fear by sharing stories of friends and strangers who have been threatened or attacked. It’s easy to say that when you actually have nothing to fear. But some of us do. Some of us walk around the neighbourhood wondering if everybody who passes us by is a Trump supporter. Some of us walk through the supermarket wondering if that person staring at us has a problem with Mexicans. Some of us legitimately worry about sending our kids to school because they don’t know what they will hear from other kids when they are there. Trump may not have caused people to start thinking this way, but he made it OK for them to act on their thoughts.
I moved to this country because I wanted to be closer to my family. I fell in love with how diverse and beautiful this nation is, and for the most part of the past 12 years lived in the bubble that NYC is. I now live in California, and while California is pretty “safe” and progressive, I still don’t feel as safe as I would in NYC. In NYC you just “blend in”. Not so much here. I’ve written about these fears before (here and here), and now that they are becoming reality, and I need to figure out what we need to do to move forward. But I really want people to stop trying to delegitimise these fears. And if your immediate reaction is to tell people that this has always been around, or that there are just as many attacks on white people then you need to stop and listen to yourself. The first step is to admit to the issue and not to try to make it less awful than it is.
Telling me that this isn’t Trump’s fault but that the major divide in this country is the issue is incorrect. Of course this divide exists, but people like Donald Trump make it even bigger. His disgusting rhetoric and the ongoing acceptance of his words has made it OK for random humans to start going after other humans and attacking them, physically or verbally. So no, let’s NOT pretend this isn’t happening and let’s NOT turn a blind eye to what is going on. And don’t talk to me about love and happiness and peace and Namaste and acceptance BS. I’m teaching my kids about love and equality so that hopefully all of these isms can be eliminated for once and for all, but I refuse to teach them to sit back and accept what they cannot believe in. I’m sorry, I can’t find enough love in me to accept the fact that this country wants a racist, misogynistic bigot as a president. I don’t WANT to look past the fact that people can so easily dismiss all of the disgusting things he has said in the past. You can’t just pick and choose and whitewash the rest: that just makes you a hypocrite. So stop telling us to let go of our anger and our fears and our stances. It’s NOT over. It has just begun and I will NOT be keeping my mouth shut.
I can’t get over the fact that a significant percentage of the voting population either believes that Mexican immigrants are all rapists and drug dealers and that there should be a ban on Muslims entering this country or pretends that they never heard that said. Do you understand how that rhetoric is translated by your average Joe who happens to be a tad racist? That anyone who looks slightly Hispanic or who may possibly be Muslim is now an easy target. What is going to happen when Trump’s cronies start going after our wombs and our reproductive rights? When they start reversing gay rights bills that we have spent years fighting for? When instead of standing together to bridge the divide people start to retract into their communities because it’s the only place where they feel safe?
You want anti-establishment? Then start at the bottom and work your way up. You aren’t happy with how the company is run? Instead of waiting on the sidelines for the presidential elections get involved in your local communities. But don’t tell me that Donald Trump is the way forward for this country. Don’t tell me that his rhetoric wasn’t misogynistic or racist, or that the media “just showed him that way”. No. All of those quotes that you’ve seen and heard come directly from the horse’s mouth. It’s been nearly a week and he hasn’t retracted any of those comments yet. He’s retracted some of the policies he said he was going to change but none of racist crap. And I know that not all of his supporters are racist asshole white men, but to vote for someone and not acknowledge what he stands for is just plain ignorance. It is your democratic right to vote for who you want, but it is also my democratic right to not have to sit down and accept it.
Luckily I still have the right to say what I want right now, and I also have the ability to get up and leave if I don’t want to be here anymore. I have no idea how my rights will have been affected by this time next year and I’m not sure I want to stick around to find out. I fear for my partner and my kids and their rights. Maybe you think I am overreacting or a pessimist, and that’s fine, that’s your right. But no country is completely protected from dictatorship, no matter how many freedoms you have. It just takes one wrong move to knock one domino down, and who knows what the consequences will be when that happens.
(And don’t even get me started on climate change… Although working on reversing that starts at home).