Two days ago I celebrated my 1st wedding anniversary with my husband; a white Jewish man whose mother lost much of her family in the Holocaust. My husband, because he loves me, refused to let me look at any news websites or social media that night. Instead, we gorged ourselves on mediocre pasta and fell asleep watching Shaun The Sheep. For that night, we felt safe in our lives, safe in our homes, and safe in our love. We also had faith that that feeling would still be present come morning.
We were wrong.
On Wednesday, November 9th, we woke to an America that had elected Donald J. Trump to be our leader. A man who ran on a platform of “otherness”, racism, bigotry, misogyny, and the sloughing off of sexual assault. Many have said that he ran on this platform because it spoke to the “forgotten people” of rural America, and he knew if he could win them, he could win the country. Honestly, at this point, it is not important why he ran on that platform, but rather, what do we do about it now. Because the Rooster is in the Henhouse, and the chickens have come home.
Throughout the course of this election, we have seen the absolute WORST of this country come out – on BOTH sides, and from every walk of life. We’ve seen Uncle Jim Bob with one tooth (fictional character made up for the sake of imagery) come out and say how much he hates n*ggers and spics and how glad he’ll be when Trump sends us all back to Africa and Mexico, and we’ve seen Brock Turner get 3 months in prison for raping an unconscious woman, while Corey Batey received 5 years for the same exact crime (only he didn’t commit it). We saw Cousin Pookie (again, a fictional character made up for the sake of imagery) talking about “Kill All White People”, and we saw Ben Carson (the question is, did he see us? Because I mean really, he looked like he was asleep the entire time, but I digress). Everywhere we turned there was anger – and rightfully so. If I felt like my President had forgotten about me, I’d be angry too. In fact, I’ve been angry most of my voting, adult life for that very reason, so I get it.
What I don’t get it is the blanket of hate that hasn’t been casually tossed over our country by this election, but rather draped and slung across shoulders as if we are Jesus marching to our own death. I don’t understand the violence that has been used against Muslim Americans, and Muslims from other countries. I can’t wrap my brain around children being told “today you sit at the back of the bus” by their peers, same-sex couples being told to return their wedding dresses because “that shit ain’t happening”, or children with profound differences in abilities now being mocked, when they were once hugged. I don’t understand it. My brain is completely unable to comprehend this behavior. Anger yes, I get that. I am pissed to high hell. But ACTIONS AGAINST OTHERS fueled by anger – no, that I do not get.
But, let’s not pretend that EVERYONE that voted for Trump is going out there saying vile things or committing heinous acts against others. For every Uncle Jim Bob, there’s a Morgan T. Bombeck, and for every Uncle Pookie there’s a Calvin. L. Johnson. I call these people the “co-signing racists”. They will never say a racist thing to your face, or maybe even behind your back. They may genuinely feel that Black Lives Do Matter and that not all undocumented citizens (because I am so damn tired of the word “immigrants”…they are PEOPLE) are rapists and murderers. But because they have a beef with Obamacare, or taxes, or have a hatred for Hillary (which even that I won’t hold against them because let’s face it, it’s easy to view her as problematic), they have cosigned the platform of hatred and unkeepable promises that Donald Trump ran on. It’s kind of like when your friend asks you to lie to their spouse after you’ve caught them cheating. You know they’re wrong, and you know their actions, and the fallout behind their actions will cause an incredible amount of harm to his family, but you do it anyway because one day he’ll return the favor (he promised), and besides….you’re not in that family so it doesn’t affect you. So you do it. You cosign on the lie because it doesn’t hurt you any, and one day, it might actually help you.
And this, my friends, is in part how we got to this place. So what do we do now?
I have been asking myself this question since I woke up Wednesday morning. I cried many, many, MANY tears. I kibbitzed with my Jewish girlfriend and my girlfriend born to Serbian immigrant parents. I had dinner with my gay, married friends, and reveled in the fact that there may be another same-sex union in the works for people I love dearly. I played with my daughter and watched her ace her spelling words on her communication device – even tough words like EMPEROR. I read message after message from friends and loved ones, known and unknown, telling me they loved me, and that they too were scared. I read a message from the mom of my daughter’s best friend. Her daughter is glowing star of love, and our family is blessed beyond measure to have her in our lives. Her mom ended her message with these words “My heart is heavy today. I have not felt this hopeless since my dad passed away. I do believe even in that darkness – there is light. Somewhere.
Maybe it’s in a friendship between two very different yet not so different little girls. True love will conquer – it has to.” I had a man I’d never seen before come to my door and serenade me with Sarah MacLachlan’s “Angel”, and it nearly brought me to my knees. And this morning I remembered meeting my friend’s family when we were 11. She was nervous for me to meet them because I am Black and they are not and due to some recent happenings within the family, she had just discovered that there was some hidden racism lurking. She was scared and nervous to tell me about them, but she was also not about to have her birthday party without me. And so I stayed, and they came, and we were both nervous. Up to that point, I had never experienced racism and was unsure of what it would look like, and what the proper response to it was to be, on my part. So, I did what my mother has always taught me to do. Be kind. Be respectful. Be loving. But if you need to, stand your ground. I only felt the ice from one family member that day, and I remember looking at my friend in shock when one aunt hugged me and talked to me the entire time. And all of her cousins played with me. That day I didn’t feel hatred, even though it was in the room with me. I felt love. Yesterday I didn’t feel hatred, even though it was in the COUNTRY with me. I felt love. My daughter has never felt hatred, even though someone, somewhere I’m sure would be more than happy heap it on her. Only love. And I think….yes…I think that’s it.
I think love is the answer.
Now, I know some of you reading this may be disappointed in that response. You may be looking for ‘neck roll, girl please, I wish you would, take of your earrings and grease up your face’ Adiba, in all of this mess. But, I can’t. My heart is not there. And sadly, it lends itself too nicely to the rhetoric that is already being spewed about women, and women that look like me. I will not give into the media trope of the Angry Black Woman, although rest assured, I am pissed the hell off. But me shouting rhetoric back at rhetoric will not change anything, and will not ensure that love continues to triumph. So today, right now, I am pledging to do as much as I can to support the agencies and individuals directly affected by the hateful rhetoric, the empty promises, and the violent actions of the Trump campaign and subsequent presidency. I will volunteer where I can, I will cover as many of your stories as I can, I will make phone calls, sign petitions, and help get signatures. When I can, and when it is safe for me to, I will march with you. I will watch your babies so you can march, and bring food and water and blankets to protestors. I will stand in front of you when they reach for your hijab and proudly say “in the name of the Jesus Christ you say you serve, don’t you touch her”. And because love must flow both ways for love to truly win, I will stand in front of you, Trump supporter, when the violence and threats are being hurled at you and say “Not here. Not today. Not now. Not ever.” Because even though it hurts me to the deepest part of my core that you have cosigned for hatred, I can’t in good faith stand by and let the hatred you gave birth to be the hatred that kills you.
I can’t, and I won’t. The only way over is through.
And today I choose to push through with love.
This article originally appeared on The Full Nelson
Photo credit: Getty Images