This is not a political post, unless you believe that having a genuine care and concern for the safety, well-being, and rights of individuals is political. Then I guess it is. I’m not going to sit here and bash Trump supporters or question his capacity to lead our nation. I am here to name the behavior taking place because of the tone of this election and to start to figure out what the hell to do about it.
Author’s Note: Authenticity is one of my core values and in an effort to be congruent, I would be remiss to say I’m not hurting, grieving, and concerned. But before you roll your eyes and think, “here we go with these liberal tears…” I ask that you hang in there with me and read this through because I’m going to do my best to relay an important message that appeals to all humans.
In the last 48 hours, I have continuously seen posts dismissing the post-election hurt and fear folks feel as just “excuses”, being “liberal cry babies”, or the result of the “entitled, trophy generation” (which is said by some of the same folks that are the parents/teachers/elders who raised this generation…but I digress).
Now in my house, being a “sore loser” was unacceptable. I will never forget the first time we lost a cheer competition in high school. I knew where our errors were and was being reflective about it but as soon as I saw my mom, I lost it. I was in tears. I was so disappointed and she looked me right in the eye and said “If you cry again after losing, I won’t let you do this anymore. You suck it up and do better next time” …or something along those lines. Since then, I still feel sadness and disappointment when I fail or lose but she taught me the importance of resilience, perseverance, and hard work and I practice this everyday.
So in those moments, when I read these dismissive posts, particularly from folks who hold several dominant identities (e.g. white, Christian, cis-gender, heterosexual, middle/upper class, able-bodied), I know my feelings are not just utter devastation for our loss. When I read these posts, I’m reminded just how differently each individual can see the world and also be blind to it.
For many individuals, there is a genuine fear of merely existing in their own bodies because throughout this election, mistreatment of others, discrimination, and violence has been encouraged and glorified. I have taken phone calls from former students who have been called racial slurs, I’ve connected with colleagues as they support students through the increased antagonism on their campus & communities, and have read the numerous racial incident reports on college campuses in the last two days.
Until you’ve had to live in the body and experience the reality of someone who identifies as Muslim, a person of color, a woman, immigrant, LGBTQ+, and/or is disabled, I need you to stop talking and just listen.
When folks feel so unsafe it makes them ill, unable to leave the house or function as they normally would, it’s not them making an excuse. It’s self-preservation.
I think about it like this. If you hear reports of an armed robber in your neighborhood, your behaviors change. You double-check the locks, check on your kids/family/dog, keep your cell phone charged, stay wary of unfamiliar faces. You take precautions. This is exactly what is happening to our friends with marginalized identities. Not only have they been raised to constantly be wary, perhaps experienced threats and discrimination in the past, but now, it’s everywhere. On social media. In the news. On their car windows. In their neighborhoods. On their college campuses.
Now, more than ever, is the time to listen to the experiences of others and learn from those with identities different than your own. Because I’ll tell you what sucks. Hearing a student crying because they’ve been called the n-word, or worse, that they are used to it but felt sad for their white friend after they were called a “n-word lover.” Or for our Latinx children who had to go to school with chants of “Build a Wall” reverberating around them.
Or when you’ve been called a “bitch” and “angry” after telling a stranger to remove his arm from around your shoulder. Because I’ve felt that and more. And let me tell you, no man is entitled to my body.
But that’s the reality we live in. One where folks feel entitled to minimize, discriminate, threaten, and assault the civil liberties of our people. And if you ask me, that’s about as un-American as it gets.
So next time you’re ready to dismiss our “liberal tears because you dealt with Obama for 8 years and are just fine” pause for a moment and take the time to listen. This isn’t about needing to grow up and get over it. This is more than not liking someone’s political agenda.
This is about wanting the right to merely exist and thrive.