Election 2016: Where Do We Go From Here?

The day after Election Day, I spent the whole day in bed.

I was lucky enough that I had the day off in general (Wednesdays off are great). I didn’t have to come up with an excuse on why I didn’t (couldn’t?) come to work. I’m glad I had that day, because some of you did not. Some of you were forced to greet the world after being dealt such a blow. Some of you had no choice about self-care yesterday. For that, I am sorry.

I spent the whole day in bed yesterday because that was the only place that felt safe to me. My country—the country that I was supposed to love and pledge allegiance to—had voted in a man that has a problem with everything that I am. I didn’t know how to relate to my country anymore. I didn’t know how I was going to be received in the outside world. This is especially traumatizing, being a black female living in the south, where we grew up hearing stories about the KKK and cross burning and lynching. How was I to prepare?

So, I stayed in bed. I hid and licked my wounds and cried and ignored my social media accounts as much as possible. I didn’t want to see how many of my friends were happy about Trump. I didn’t want to know how many people thought his hate speech was okay.

I also didn’t want to see those people calling for his impeachment, because they didn’t realize how lethal his running mate is, a man who believes that homosexuality can be “cured” via electroshock therapy. I didn’t want to believe that I lived in a world so…backwards.

But I do. And I have for as long as I’ve been alive.

What I have been struggling to put into words is very simple: it’s not about Trump. Yes, having a man that is out of touch with reality as our next president is not ideal. Yes, he has said some awful things and proposed dangerous “solutions”. Yes, he might be the worst president in my lifetime, but the real thing that scares me is you.

Yes you, Trump voter. The people who went out and cast your ballot in affirmation of every ignorant, disgusting and downright criminal thing that Trump has spewed from his mouth. You are what scares me and people like me. Frankly, I’m paranoid now. How many of you have I sat next to on the train? How many of you have I given my personal information to? How many of you have been the deciding factor on whether or not I got a job? How many of you have operated on me?

How many times have I unknowingly put my life in your hands, the hands of someone who does not value me as a person?

I am afraid to know the answer.

I am afraid that I have been living next door to you all this time. That you have smiled in my face and maybe called me one of the “good ones” because I went to college and can speak the most proper English.  How many times have you had racist or discriminatory thoughts about my people—both black and LBGTQIA+—and then qualified it with, “but not the good ones”?

How many of you are teaching my nieces and nephews, my beautiful black future? What are you teaching them? Are you sneakily indoctrinating them with self-hate? Will I one day have to explain to them that, yes all black people are beautiful and worthy of love, respect and human decency? Will I have to explain to them they were born this way and they are not defective? Will I have to explain to my nieces that, yes, your body is your own to do with as you please?

This country is broken, and if this election didn’t prove it to you, I don’t know what will.

And for those of you who are reading and thinking, she’s just mad that Hillary didn’t win, I’ll let you in on a little secret: this isn’t about Hillary either. I had my reservations about her as well. This is about the people; after all, people make up a country, not presidents.

How did we get here, as a nation? How can we have one set of people so angry with and hateful towards someone different from them? How did we let ourselves be so xenophobic? Can we fix the foundation that this nation rests upon, this foundation that was never built right to begin with?

I don’t have the answer or the solution, but I can tell you what I did today. Today I got out of bed. I stopped hiding under the covers and I made the decision to love those who love me, educate those who want the knowledge and work with those who want to make things better. This isn’t about me, it’s about the future children of America that have to live with the consequences of today.

America was never great, never. But we could be.

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