Dear 60,071,650 of My Fellow Americans:
Over the past couple of days I’ve been struggling to write. I started five different essays, all of which I ended up not finishing – not because I was confused or because I didn’t know what to say – but because I feel hopeless.
You see, every piece I write – as whiny, dark, and pessimistic as they may be – are expressions of the hope I still hold inside. Every piece I write, just by the fact that it was produced and shared, comes with the hope that it will make a difference – even if it’s just the tiniest kind.
But this time it’s different.
I cannot finish any of my writings because I can’t bring myself to feel any form of hope. I cannot get myself to believe that anything I write – or anything that I do – can make the smallest of difference.
I feel defeated because we’ve been through this many times before. We have talked about different forms of oppression as major contributing factors to many of the worst tragedies in our society. Some of the more recent examples of our talks include the Isla Vista massacre, the Charleston Emanuel AME Church murders, the Stanford rape case, the countless anti-Islam and anti-immigrant hate crimes, the Orlando shooting, and the state-sanctioned killings and imprisonment of Black, Brown, and Native lives. Shit, we’ve even talked about the holocaust when discussing this election.
We’ve also demonstrated how various forms of oppression are related to many negative outcomes such as poor school performance, lower self-esteem, substance use and abuse, sexual assaults, domestic violence, and poor mental and physical health.
Over the years we have written and discussed, mobilized and organized, disrupted and disobeyed.
But despite all the work that has been done, 60 million of you – my fellow Americans – still gave racism a pass.
60 million of you still gave sexism a pass.
60 million of you still gave misogyny a pass.
60 million of you still gave ableism a pass.
60 million of you still gave Islamophobia a pass.
60 million of you still gave heterosexism a pass.
60 million of you still gave xenophobia a pass.
Look, I understand that not all you may be sexist, racist, ableist, islamophobic, homophobic, or anti-immigrant, but 60 million of you still validated bigotry and hate. You may not have deep-seeded, ill-intentioned, dark malice against your fellow human beings, but 60 million of you just sent a very strong, loud, and clear message to those who do that their prejudices and hate are acceptable.
For a moment there I thought we were making progress toward addressing this societal disease. Many of you changed your Facebook profile pictures to a rainbow background. Many of you checked-in to Standing Rock. Many of you ranted against rape culture. Many of you asserted the importance of Black lives. Many of you may have even supported Bernie Sanders in the primaries.
But yet 60 million votes still happened.
Over the past couple of days you may have seen that there is a spike in hate crimes all over the country, and there has been a huge wave of people being subjected to various forms of threats, intimidation, and discrimination. Many folks seem to have become highly emboldened to express their prejudices, like they were finally given permission to openly act on their long-suppressed, hidden, and simmering hate.
My fellow Americans, you gave them that permission. Please don’t say that these discriminatory behaviors and the many that will still come are just isolated incidents. You can no longer pin the problem to a single, marginalized, “loner” person. You can no longer merely dismiss these hateful displays as the acts of few inherently evil individuals.
60 million votes isn't an isolated incident. 60 million votes can make a huge impact.
As we’ve talked about before, oppression in its various forms have been permeating our world and negatively impacting our lives for generations. We already have an endless list of evidence to support this, and now we have 60 million more.
This is why I feel beaten, at least for now, hopefully…
E.J.R. David is the author of “Brown Skin, White Minds: Filipino -/ American Postcolonial Psychology” and the editor of “Internalized Oppression: The Psychology of Marginalized Groups.” He also writes periodically for Psychology Today. Follow him on Twitter here.