"We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist."
This is something I've taken to heart. While I feel utterly disgusted by the rhetoric of our new president-elect and worry about the future of the nation, there are people who live in fear for their lives come January. Trump sees me, a woman, as a piece of meat that he can sexualize and perpetuate violence against with no consequences. Trump wants to bar my undocumented friends from working, driving and achieving any path to citizenship that would enable them to live as other Americans. He wants to bar my Muslim friends from living in America and practicing their freedom of religion. Endorsed by the KKK, he wants to criminalize my black friends. He wants to encourage hate and discrimination against my gay friends and overturn marriage equality. I find it very difficult to be friends with those who believe and align themselves with this kind of hate.
I recognize that checks and balances exist, and so, while I am nervous about his campaign promises and recently developed first 100 days plan, I am more fearful about what his election says about the American people.
Since the results of Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, an outburst of slurs and violence acts of racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia has ensued. Discrimination isn't new and Donald Trump isn't the first president-elect to project it, but the fact of its overt targets and the rallying of too much of America behind what he stands for feels like several steps back. It seems like his election empowers the Trump base with a stamp of approval for acts of violence and hatred. Forget a post-racial America that many concluded with the two-term presidency of Barack Obama. We clearly have a long way to go.
Maybe you don't want to build a wall. Maybe you don't agree with the KKK. Maybe you don't think women should be sexually assaulted. But, because of your privileges that allow you to look past these glaring red flags that characterize Donald Trump and remain unaffected, you didn't care about the people that his rhetoric targets enough to vote against him. You cannot compartmentalize hatred, just because you yourself will be unaffected by it. And that's not politics. That's personal.
This week has been difficult. I've been in disbelief, saddened, angry, disappointed. But recently, I'm motivated. Somehow, my friends who have targets on their backs - who have always had targets on their backs because of the color of their skin, their religion, their nationality, their sexuality - somehow they are able to not be consumed by (albeit, justified) anger every day. Somehow, they are able to first look for the best in people. Somehow, they still have the emotional capacity to love. Somehow, they still have the strength to continue.
I am not suggesting that we should passively roll over and play dead in the name of "love" or "unity." My LGBTQ friends, my Muslim friends, my undocumented friends, my friends of color have been exhausted this week. They have been afraid. They have been angry. They have cried. Some weren't able to get out of bed on Wednesday.
But I don't have targets on my back. And I recognize now that I need to engage in a civil way with those who are blinded by their own ignorance or privileges, to use my own privileges as a white, straight, middle-class, able-bodied and educated person to seek change through dialogue. I'll admit that me labeling people with "you're racist, sexist and don't ever talk to me again" has gotten me nowhere (even though I'm right). But at least, with the nature of this election, it has revealed the truth about where the American people are in regards to progress. I can seek justice and change without dooming the conversation from the beginning. It has to start with me.