Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What My Feelings Are Not

There seems to be a lot of confusion and assumptions about what the "election losers" are feeling.

I am sure that some people are feeling the disappointment of their candidate losing. I am sure that some people are concerned about what will happen on the issues that matter most to them. I am sure that some people are worried about a man taking this job who has no qualifications, no experience. I am sure there are people who are crushed at the loss of the first potential female president. I am sure some people are angry that the popular vote doesn't bear more weight and consequence.

I can't speak for all the people who either didn't vote or who voted against Trump or who voted for Clinton.

I do think it's important to speak about my own feelings, though. We are one week out from waking up to the news (or having only gotten a few hours sleep and waking up to the reality because we'd hoped the news was wrong) that Trump is now the president-elect.

I have been around long enough to see Republicans win some elections and Democrats win some elections. This isn't about that.

I have been around long enough to know that racism is real. Sexism is real. Homophobia is real. Xenophobia is real. And all of this existed before the election. While I think things are different than they were 20, 30, 40, 50 years ago (and so on), I did not live in a bubble that thought all these things had been eradicated.

Here's what my feelings are not.

I am not "in shock."

I am not having a pity party.

I am not being a sore loser.

I don't feel hatred towards Trump or his supporters.

Here's what I can determine that my feelings actually are:

I am angry. I am confused. I am worried. I am scared. I am sad. I am heartsick.

Not because a Republican won. Not because someone completely unqualified won. Not because someone completely inexperienced and ignorant to the job won.

But because there are people who voted this man into office and did not care or completely denied the awful things he said and implied and justified.

I look around me and I wonder.... Does that white guy recognize his racism and privilege? Does that white woman recognize the sexism she lives in and perpetuates? Would that straight guy deny service or condone violence against my gay friend?

Are people that I love and respect aware of the reality of bigotry and everything that it means?

It isn't that I think every white man or white woman is automatically a bigot. But I look at white skin and I make assumptions. I have questions. I have doubts. I don't trust. Same for men.

I know there are some good and loving and kind white people / men. They want to understand. Maybe the election result is their first time really having to face bigotry and hate. But how do I know? How do I know that your remark is well intentioned but simply lacking experience or understanding? How do I know if you are one of the "good" ones?

And a safety pin or a bumper sticker or a t-shirt isn't the answer.

The most important thing about the feelings I am having is that these are the feelings so many Americans live with and have lived with daily. For years. For centuries and decades. For some, these feelings are locked up inside their "closet." For some, these feelings are always screaming at them because you can't turn off the color of your skin. For some, these feelings are realized when they put on their hijab and feel the burn of hate and misunderstanding in the eyes that only see the headscarf.

And here's the thing. I can choose to turn off the feelings and just move on. I can choose to go back to life as usual. Because I am white and straight and Christian. I can blend in. I can turn a blind eye. To be completely honest, there is a good chance that will happen anyway. That what I am seeing and hearing and feeling this past week will end up becoming a new normal and I will become slightly numb to it.

I have the privilege of going numb if I want to. White, straight, Christian gives me that privilege.

But being a Christ-follower means I don't get to rest in that privilege. I am called to stay aware. I am called to love radically. I am called to fight injustice. Even if I am tired. Even if I am scared. Even if I just want to go numb.

1 comment:

NiffyW said...

Wonderful post. It is a wake up call to stay engaged. I liked President Obama's conference call with grassroots supporters, where he said "I'm giving you like a week and a half to get over it". He talked to his supporters about "staying engaged, staying involved" and figuring out how to move forward. That's hard when I'm feeling tired and defeated. I have to admit, I spent last night looking at real estate new San Francisco. Not that I would go anywhere until the girls finish high school, but that's only 2 1/2 years away. I would keep the house here in Carmel, to ensure Alex is in-state for Purdue, but I would spend more time on the West Coast. And yet, I am swayed by your admonition that the fear and discouragement I feel is felt by so many groups, and I have been insulated for so long. These feelings should motivate me and keep me in the fight.