Two days ago when I posted on my wall, “I hope that I can get over my own biases and get to work tomorrow…” I 100% thought it would be from the position of someone whose candidate won the election and I would be extending an olive leaf to those who do not share my point of view. I imagined celebrating, breathing a sigh of relief, posting the picture above and high-fiving a vast majority of my friends either in person or on social media.
Needless to say there was no celebrating, no relief and no high-fiving over the new president elect. (In full disclosure, there may have been high-fiving over some urine making it into a potty.)
This morning I cried with Van Jones when he thought about how he was going to explain this to his children, read Trump’s acceptance speech, had a come to Jesus moment thanks to Cardinal Colbert, teared up watching Obama’s speech (mostly at the thought of missing him so much) and ugly cried when I watched HRC’s concession speech. I read a lot. Prayed. Thought a lot. Tried to pray some more. I also ate an almond biscotti, a bagel and a Costco polish dog all before 1pm. I must’ve looked like a mess all day because my son asked me every 24 minutes asking me if I was happy or sad. I have nothing new to add to the conversation. I do feel compelled to write to remind myself of what I’ve learned from this election cycle.
- I am in a bubble…. that I have created. Yes, I live in California. I also reside in one of the most liberal urban centers. Heck my favorite color is blue (Go Chargers/Bears/Warriors). I was sympathetic towards people who had their misgivings about Hillary, but I was sure that given the choice between the two, everyone would see that there was an obvious choice. My friends, Facebook feed and go to news sources confirmed this. I never felt like I needed to say anything because wasn’t it obvious? It wasn’t until the last couple months that I started to learn that maybe not everyone around me felt this way. In fact half of the nation doesn’t feel this way. I was completely blind-sided.
- The Trump Phenomenon is real. As Donald Trump won primary after primary, I stopped gawking at him and turned my attention… okay, my incredulity, to his supporters. Yes Trump has unapologetically exploited employees, admitted to misogynist discourse, spewed hateful speech against people of color, LGBTQ+ and women. There are people like that in the world. I have come to terms that I can’t help that. But what does it say about people who are willingly choosing him to become their president? It blew my mind. I started to form this picture of what a Trump supporter looked like – White, racist, gun-yielding, bigot, uneducated, unconvinced by facts, anti-immigrant and angry. And probably from a fly-over state. The more I read about people who have spent some time in rural America, the story becomes less sensational and more nuanced. Their pain and disillusion is palatable. These people who voted for Trump know that they are the butt of jokes. They see it on TV and all over media. I’d like to think that they are just as repulsed about Trump’s behavior, but perhaps they felt like he was the only one that heard them.
Perhaps the biggest aha moment came for me in the shower today, when it dawned on me that I know what is like to be caricatured.
Granted I’ve never been called a racist or misogynist simply because of who I voted for or my party-affiliation, I know what it’s like for people to assume things because you identify with a group. For me, it’s being a Christian. I love Jesus. I know that makes a lot of people really uncomfortable in the Bay Area. Just like I have a picture of what a Trump supporter looks like, many people have similar pictures of what a Christian is like, the things they care about, the people they elect and the platforms they hold so dear. When Evangelicals make the eleven o’clock news, I often squirm because, for better or worse, I wonder if my friends think that I support so and so’s behavior or even worse, share the same values as so and so. I find myself thinking, “Wait, wait. Please hear me out!” On the flip side, though I did vote for HRC, I am not on board with every single Democratic platform. I feel the “Wait! Wait! Hear me out!” on multiple fronts.
I can only imagine that’s how many people felt this cycle about supporting a controversial candidate. No candidate is perfect, they’re just trying to make the best decision for themselves and one that echoes their values.
For the record, while there is room in our democracy to disagree with one another, we should never make room for the oppression, hatred, marginalization of any person or group. We need to stand up against it every time. But the tricky thing is doing it with humility and resolve without dehumanizing one other lest we become the very thing we hate in others.
- I need to engage. If I want to work for the flourishing of my city, state and country, I need to be brave. I shied away from calling out racism because I was too chicken or assumed I couldn’t change anything. I avoided getting into controversial conversations because I’m freaked out by awkward. I chose silence because I was too lazy to type and think after a full day. Lord help me to engage in a way that is productive and builds bridges.
- Fighting for what is right is messy. I need to remind myself over and over again that I should not be surprised by messiness. Hills summed it up well ‘Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.’
Here’s to moving tomorrow a little bruised, but a little less prideful than yesterday morning. Let’s get to work America.