I have been putting off writing this post. I didn’t want to write it – I didn’t think I’d have to. I thought, in the days following November 8th, that I’d be able to write something about glass ceilings, and the women who waited 96 years, and the US joining the growing community of nations with a female head of state. It would have been schlocky, probably. Screw that – it definitely would have been overly sentimental.
But instead, the American people made a choice that I don’t think I will ever really understand. And so we face an uncertain and terrifying future, with a racist, xenophobic, misogynistic homophobic, you’ve-been-Tangoed personification of a YouTube comment thread poised to take the helm.
These last few weeks, I have watched my friends grieve for their country, for the nation they thought – and hoped – was more than the sum of its fears. I know how they feel. Back in June, I grieved for my country, as I realised that my compatriots are much more insular, xenophobic and selfish than I thought. It’s little comfort that the US electorate has made a decision likely to have a more devastating and far-reaching impact – even if we had elected our own xenophobic buffoon, we probably wouldn’t have fucked up this badly. Although there is still Boris
What does bring me comfort is everything I see around me. On that Tuesday night, I drank with my American friends, and tried (failed) to make jokes when things looked like they might still be okay, and consoled them it became clear how not okay it was going to be. I offered them whiskey and hugs, a couch to sit on and a shoulder to cry on. I shared their pain and disappointment, their confusion, fear and anger. The next day, those feelings were still there. But I didn’t see my friends wallowing. I saw resilience, determination, and hope. And love. My friends shared messages of love and support, and discussed ways to make real change – everything from protests and fundraising to support services and running for office.
When my friends woke up on November 9th, their country was not what they thought it was – it is, perhaps, what they (and I) have always feared it was. But they are not simply resigning themselves to this fate, nor are they giving in to fear – even though many are legitimately afraid of a Trump-Pence administration. They are standing up and being counted. They are taking steps to fix problems and empower the disenfranchised. They are figuring out ways to talk to those who voted for this idiot, and trying to bridge the chasms that divide this country. My friends are amazing, and I’m proud of their resilience in the face of hate. I wish I had shown a tenth of that strength in the face of Brexit.
I don’t know if this will be enough. The image above this post is from my neighborhood. Someone had painted a swastika on a utility pole. Someone else painted over it. This is not okay. This is not normal. This is …. I don’t know what this is.
I hate that narrative of loving those who hurt you, the whole turn the other cheek thing. If someone slaps you in the face, you need to get them to stop, not just let them keep hitting you. I often teach kids to ask a bully to stop, to explain why it’s a problem, and if that doesn’t work to get help from a teacher. When the bully *is* the teacher though …. well and there my metaphor breaks down. Thankfully better minds than mine are on this problem. And I have hope.