Today, I find myself still sitting with the reality of what America decided to do on November 8th, 2016. I sit here trying to wrap my head around the logic and the why of the public’s reasoning, and I must admit, I’m at a loss. We had an opportunity to stand for something great, but, for me (and as it turns out, the majority of Americans) that greatness was not wrapped in a slogan full of empty platitude. Yet here we are, living in a country that shouldn’t feel foreign to me, yet it feels exactly like that. If ever there was a time that one might understand the story of A Man Without A Country, I think that time is now.
It’s understandable that many of us might feel like screaming, “I wish I may never hear of the United States again!” And given the many protests that have sprung up in the past couple of days, it’s a difficult declaration to oppose.
Here’s the thing about this election that I can’t shake. On November 9th, 2016, I awoke, and I was still a straight, white, American man. When I wake up on January 20th, 2017, I’ll still be that same man. In spite of my current emotional state, and contrary to what may actually be the popular belief, the world will not stop spinning. The sun isn’t going to swallow us whole. (Well, don’t tell Gary Johnson I said that.) Even to this preacher’s son, whose father was considered by his peers to be an expert in eschatology, thereby giving me an uninvited intimate knowledge of the book of Revelations, the apocalypse isn’t coming. (Don’t tell the Evangelicals I said that.)
Regardless of how impending the doom may feel today, tomorrow, and for the next 4 years, I’ll still be able to laugh. I’ll still be able to dance. (Albeit not very well, according to witnesses.) I’ll still have fun, and I’ll still have good times. (Good for me, right?) I worry about how accurate that statement may or may not be, to be honest. For the foreseeable future of the next 4 years, I am afraid for every single person who is not that same straight, white, American man—for everyone else who is not just like me.
I am scared—no, I am terrified—for women. What will happen to my nineteen year old niece who just voted in her very first election? Will men tell her what she can or cannot do with her own body for the rest of her life? What about my three year old niece? Will she now grow up under a more dominating patriarchy? On November 7th, 2016, I would have thought it impossible for the patriarchy to be any more dominating. America proved me wrong.
I didn’t think I could be any more fearful for minorities and people of color, but that all changed too. How do I look at my friend, Jamal, a proud, friendly, upstanding, patriotic, conscientious black man, without feeling the shame of this entire country? His face is the face I see every time I see another unarmed black man gunned down for a misdemeanor, or less. It’s his eyes I see, his pain I weep for, his daughter, his wife I fear for because this country elected the only candidate endorsed by the KKK. How do we explain that? Forget the future generations for a moment. How do we justify this for the current generation?
I am saddened and terrified for those who would dare to practice a religion different than Christianity. We talk of religious freedom, but we proved on November 8th, 2016, that we don’t really believe in it. We hear about the war on Christianity, but never about the fact that over 80% of Americans identify as Christians. I won’t even go into why most of those noise makers, righteously claiming persecution are nothing more than modern day Pharisees. That’s an entirely different article. But it certainly makes me ask, who are the real terrorists?
I am heartbroken for the love that will be diminished, spat upon, once again made vile and disgusting. We will look at people we know, our neighbors, our local business owners, our co-workers, and we will have to live with the fact that what they fought so hard for was all for naught. It didn’t count. We were just kidding? I guess? We live in a country where the odds of your straight marriage has a better return on failing than succeeding, where men can cheat on their wives and be glorified for it. Yet, we want to regulate an entire community of people that just want the same opportunity to screw it all up just like the straight folks, but, as we showed by our actions, that would just be too large a burden to bear. Somehow, by evidence of a cast ballot, we showed that we believe that someone else’s love infringes on our lives, our children, and the very fabric of our society.
I am scared- no, better make that horrified—for the children. We taught them a lesson on November 8th, 2016, didn’t we? We taught them that being a bully, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a classless, uncouth bigot is the way to get where you want to go in life. Let’s not pretend we didn’t wrap that turd in a bow and sell it as a diamond. How do we undo this lesson? Bullying is already a problem. I’ve seen your protests, your signs, your videos, your t-shirts, so is it possible that we just gave bullying the ringing endorsement we never knew it needed?
In the coming days and years, there will be many things, I have little doubt, that will affect me, that will affect all of us. There will be bills passed, judges appointed, (wars begun?) rights stripped away, and countless other events that will anger me, that will cause me to shake my head in disbelief, that will bring into question the very identity of what this country is.
But you see, I’m lucky. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s for the most arbitrary reason. I am lucky by birth. Tomorrow, and every day for the rest of my life, I will have the privilege of waking up as this straight, white, American man. All of these things that may or may not happen will have almost no impact on my ability to be what and who I am. (And what a luxury to be able to actually say that last sentence, boldly and confidently.) The tragedy is that I cannot say the same for many of my friends, my family members, my peers, acquaintances, and the like.
Today, my heart is broken for them. Today my heart is broken for you. Today my heart is broken for the children of this already great nation. Today my heart is broken for you, America.