Saturday, November 12, 2016

Dear America (Yes that includes you Trump voters)

Dear America (yes that includes you Trump voters)

I spent time in a writing group in one of the most liberal cities in our country recently with so many on the very far left and a similar theme I am seeing elsewhere emerged- namely the need to remember we are all human - that voting for trump doesn't make you a racist or sexist or a bigot, and in many cases might be a protest vote for the way things are- that there is probably plenty of common ground amongst us. 

For those reading this who have been subjected to lifetimes of hatred and torture in the form of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, biases against your religious beliefs or politics, etc... Please know I don't mean to diminish in any way your outrage at what is justifiably outrageous. I get why people feel a vote for Trump ignored and dismissed their importance / right to safety and dignity- I also understand why so many voting their own conscious felt they needed to vote for him (or rather I'm understanding this more and more). Furthermore, I am becoming acutely aware of the places I have been comfortably resting in my privilege and will work to stand more powerfully with you as an engaged citizen and activist. 

I simply ask everyone who reads this to:
1) remember we are human and
2) please recognize that people are very, very scared for their lives (and children and students and family and friend's lives) because they are in many cases being directly threatened and harassed - with people citing Trump as justification for their hate. 

Before anyone says this is buying into fear and overreacting please know that I have way more stories in just my immediate community where violence has been directly threatened against them since Tuesday night- way too many and those are just my family and friends (not from the stories read in the media that no one trusts). And these are usually directed at groups that have long been the victims of targeted violent attacks that already worry for their safety for good reason. 

Again to be very clear in an atmosphere of major misunderstanding... I am not at all saying being for Trump means you do or support these things. What I am saying in the things Trump said during the campaign seem to have created a platform where people who do believe in hatred of women and gender non-conforming people, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, people with disabilities, lgbtqai people, liberals in general now feel justified in attacking these groups outright and we need ALL of us to stand up to that hate. As we also need to stand up to the hate directed at people for who they voted for. 

I don't believe your vote for any candidate makes you a good or bad human- you exist in a context and as an anthropologist I work to understand that context. I do believe we ALL carry responsibility for our divided country and ALL have a responsibility to stand up to hate. There are lots of policy fights and fights for civil and human rights ahead I know, but here I just address one aspect of this complex shit storm we are now all engaged in... 

I am pretty sure our digital age isn't helping with how much we dehumanize each other... So maybe I can make it a little more human if you happen to be someone who currently hates those who voted for Hillary: 

I'm a pretty likable human (I hope), I have a good heart, care very much for those around me and want to do good in the world-
the words of hate against gays are against me-
mocking of people with disabilities against me-
misogyny against me-
calls to kill liberals - yup that's me too. 

And the groups I don't identify with that are targeted - those are my students, my friends, my teachers, my family, my heroes, and my fellow citizens. The hate targeted at Trump voters- ya that's directed at my people too- family members and friends I love dearly. 

Also please know that so many of us are experiencing a feeling of outrage and violation as someone who openly discussed harming women is now being put in our highest office - if you think that is just us whining please have more conversations with survivors of sexual assault and rape and please listen to them- they will tell you how these violations stay with a person long after the events of abuse (I might add these are the people who are all too familiar with being told they are making it all up and are overreacting). 

I am standing up against hate, dehumanization, and violence directed at all of us. It is not okay that since this election hate had been unleashed on so many. 

The group with arguably one of the biggest reason to hate all of us Americans, many of them are currently camped out in the cold in North Dakota at Standing Rock, calling for prayers and peace to protect our environment. Native American groups are actively leading prays for the police forces, the pipeline company, and all in our society as they try to stand up for what they know to be right. 

Imagine if we all stand up with as much power, respect, and love. Whether we agree or not on what we stand up for, I think that love and respect for each other could be the revolution we all want. 

I hope you can hear me on the other side from my very liberal city and my very gay, feminist self! I love you my country, I am grateful for voices and views that are different from my own because they challenge me to think critically, and I hope we can agree our country is better than these hateful attacks from either side.

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