I’ve had many interesting conversations with people about what this new America—this world we all woke up to today—looks like when it comes to coming back together and navigating through the divide that now exists between us all. That divide was always there, just not as apparent; Just not as noticeable.
This election has brought out the worst in all of us, and I see that everyone is hurt in some way, shape, or form—some rightfully so, some annoyingly so. I am baffled by the arguments that I am approached with when people challenge my grief: that I should get over it, that nothing will happen to me, that all is fine, and that I shouldn’t equate a Trump supporter with a racist, misogynist, homophobe, xenophobe, or white supremacist.
But here’s the thing.
If you voted for him, I believe you.
I believe you when you say that you’re not a racist.
I believe you when you say that you’re not a homophobic
I believe you when you say you’re not misogynistic.
I believe you when you say you love everyone around you and truly care about diversity.
I believe you when you say that you don’t condone violence, discrimination, or bullying.
But I won’t keep believing you if you keep using that as an excuse for not taking a step back and seeing what is happening right now. The hate crimes, the bullying, the threatening, the panic… it’s not anyone’s overreaction. These things are happening. They might not be happening to you, but they are happening. We must remember that it’s really easy to separate ourselves from an issue when it doesn’t affect us. It’s easy to dismiss and deny things when they are not part of our space.
I know you had legitimate reasons for voting for him. Hear me when I say: I don’t care about those reasons. This is not because I don’t care about you, or don’t value you, or don’t want to understand you, but because those reasons can’t help those who are hurting right now—only your acknowledgement and response to this can.
There is something I need you to understand:
Intent vs. Impact
I understand that you intended to make the decision that you felt was right for you and your personhood—but the impact this decision went beyond surface things. No amount of arguing or justifying will ever take away that your intent, electing your ideal president, had a negative impact.
No amount of arguing or justifying will change the fact that the idea of a Trump presidency makes some people feel entitled to be racist, xenophobic, homophobic, and overall a disgusting human being to people who are different from them—just because. The fear now isn’t about Trump, but of these people who now feel empowered.
You may not be any of those things, but your impact—your vote—was.
You may not be racist, homophobic, or xenophobic, but you still did a racist, homophobic, and xenophobic thing—you still sent that message.
Regardless of why you voted for him, you still voted for him. You don’t get to regulate what others equate you with. You don’t get to tell people what to feel, especially when they go through things that are not part of your space. What you can do, however, is be open and listen to others.
If you voted for him, I do not believe that it automatically makes you the enemy.
I want to believe that you do value equality and diversity and in the inherent value of every person as much as I do. I want to believe that people are precious to you, no matter their color, gender, religion, or sexual orientation. But if you choose to stay silent, whether out of fear or shame—I will have no choice but to believe that you are okay with all of this.
And here’s the thing, friend: If you were to stand up and say that you are not okay with any of this, if you were to stand up to the bigots and the racists and the misogynists and the homophobes and the xenophobes—you will find that I will stand with you. I would stand and speak with you.
I will not hold your vote against you because I trust that you arrived at that vote as carefully and seriously as I did mine.
But make no mistake… I will hold your silence against you.
I will hold your inaction against you.
I will hold your refusal to see the pain of that victim of things your vote made people entitled to do against you.
I believe you are not the horrible things I am seeing from the hateful, vicious, and intolerant few, but that belief comes with the expectation that I will see you now take a stand and declare that this is not what you meant by making America great. It comes with the expectation that you speak now to the marginalized, that you hear their grief, validate their fear, and that you come to their defense in both word and in tangible support.
Friend, you may feel like you are being attacked these days, and I can validate that. I can validate your concern.
But you are also being challenged to be the person you tell us you are.
If you want those who are hurting to see you for what you think you are… Say something. Do something.
Your silence only proves us right.