It is important for me as a mom, writer, advocate and human to thank my non-minority friends who understand the impact of this election on me, my brown children and others like us who are considered in the minority in the United States. I know it is not your personal fault that others think like they do. Instead, it is you, the ones who have stood up and inspired me to keep pushing to have the conversations with those not like me. You remind me not everyone possesses a bigoted mind despite still knowing the cold reality that there are a lot of people who do. It is you who have come to me willing to learn about our differences, have open uncomfortable dialogue and hungering to embrace me through my pain while using your own privilege to raise awareness as you lose friends of your own simply standing for what is right. You have seen that this stance ultimately speaks to what many see as picking the side of preservation of human and civil rights over the annihilation of them for certain groups.
As I think about the most recent presidential election, I acknowledge we would be fair in stating there will always be those who celebrate and those who don’t. This 2016 presidential election, however, was much different than any other that I’ve experienced. It has been a roller coaster ride event consisting of every feeling imaginable including but not limited to fear, sadness, curiosity, intrigue, hope, sick comedy and anger.
Once the polls began to close around the nation on November 8th and we started seeing preliminary votes come in, it became clear pretty early on that Donald Trump may be the winner. This was not at all something I was ok with. Now to be fair, there are certainly a host of issues with Hillary Clinton that made me bristle as well; but, they weren’t quite the same. The difference between the two in my mind was the ability of Clinton to do the job with the guiding hand of congress to ensure we would be ok as a nation if she were elected. On other hand, the thought of Donald Trump being elected filled my thoughts with the pain and horror of insults, discrimination and disregard for basic human and civil rights of people that did not look like him, love like him or praise a deity the same as him. In a country that is so diverse, how could this be? I thought, how could we have allowed a xenophobic, womanizing, misogynistic man to get to this point in a campaign? How could he represent me as my president when he talked consistently about “the blacks” and our “bad neighborhoods and schools” like none of us had ever stepped out of the proverbial “hood” to live in the suburbs and raise healthy, literate, contributing children? Why were we called “the blacks” as if we were some “thing” from a foreign land that didn’t belong here? I’d never felt the pain I felt during a campaign before like this one. It cut me to the bone thinking about the potential danger myself, my neighbors and my children could be in. Watching my colleagues in the LGBTQ community speak from a place of fear about their relationships and how they too had the same concerns I did broke my heart.
Soon, I began seeing posts of friends on social media supporting this man. They supported him when he had said the most horrible things like indicating sexual assault was ok because he could do what he wanted. They were ok with him calling women ugly names and period shaming a reporter yet he claimed he respects women. They ignored the way he talked about people like my Muslim friends and made fun of a disabled reporter. They ignored his elitist methods of excluding and mistreating workers and others while not making good on payments and increasing his own finances while filing bankruptcy over and over. They sat still as he said not paying taxes (while inferring to beating the system) was smart instead of owning what he did and letting us know how he could ensure tax breaks benefit the rest of us going forward. They ignored the countless lawsuits against him, the women who came out about his behaviors and even the allegations of sexual misconduct towards someone who was a minor years ago which sat unresolved as of election day. How could this be? Why was it ok for him to have 5 kids by 3 different women despite them being wives who often started out as mistresses, yet black men are demonized if they have anything even close to this behavior? How could they think stop and frisk would be ok when we know this would happen in mostly minority neighborhoods for no cause as indicated by multiple investigations that show it has. How could they not see me as their friend and my sons and daughter as extensions of me, the person they called a friend? How could they not be horrified for their daughters, sisters, mothers and grandmothers for all of the strides made to give women the same rights as men? Why would they continue to support anti-bullying programs when this man they were supporting pushed bully culture to the max?
Once the results were in, the sh*t really hit the fan for many people. People said “you can’t end friendships over political differences.” I struggled with this as did others until I had the epiphany that I needed to help myself find peace and calm the deep wounds in my own heart. It was clear as day to me…..I wasn’t thinking of letting go of real friendships because my REAL friends weren’t of this mindset. It was the virtual friendships that created much of my angst. And were they really REAL friends anyway? The truth is I was not thinking of unfriending people because of political views at all. I NEEDED to unfriend because of discriminatory views that saw minorities including women as objects to be discarded, disrespected, mistreated and ignored. I had the right to purge my circle of people who had views that were toxic to my forward movement. There was no malice, hatred or anything other than a realization that my season with them was simply over!
I realized the guilt being felt by me and others to keep friends because it was “immature to delete people based on politics” was part of the game to keep us thinking poorly of ourselves. I don’t have to feel guilty for wanting to surround myself with people who are ok with keeping others safe and treating us like humans. Does this mean we have to be mean to them? No! It simply means that as humans we have the right to surround ourselves by those whose belief systems encourage respect, dignity and growth. We have the right to be connected to others who may not always understand our pain but instead care enough to embrace it, listen and want to help work through it WITH US while knowing they can’t speak for us! It is this right and freedom that being an American affords me and that is why I choose to thank all of my friends regardless of race who I remain connected to!