I’m sorry I could not reply on your Facebook post. At first it seemed light-hearted and cute; a meme asking if we could “all have a group hug and stop talking about politics now that the election is over.” I was going to make a flippant reply, like, nope!. Then I saw the meme cartoon of Hillary Clinton being urinated on that your friend posted on the thread, which you “ha-ha’d” and did not remove.
The conversation about the “Hispanics” you and your friends were having was feeling kind of… awkward, like it might veer off into a bad direction, so I stopped reading and tried to compose my thoughts, and realized that I needed to address them to more people than just you.
So, to answer your question…
No. I don’t want a “group hug” with you, and here’s why….
I feel betrayed by you.
My Black, Jewish, Native American, LGBTQ, Muslim, Pagan, Buddhist, Latinx, and disabled friends, recent immigrants from around the world… people who get mistaken for immigrants (and combinations of all of the above)—these are my people, these are my friends, and these are my family, and they are afraid. These are people I love. They are the most interesting, most creative, most comassionate and loving people I’ve ever known. Most of them have gone through a lot of things you and I will never be able to understand, but we can try.
They have been harassed, they have been sneered at, gay-bashed and beaten until they were almost dead, they have been repeatedly sexually abused, they have been disowned by their families, they have had racial and homophobic slurs hurled at them on a regular basis. They have had the crap beaten out of them by cops. Some live in fear of being killed by random strangers or the police because of the color of their skin, or for just for having the audacity to be themselves. They have lived with large and small acts of discrimination and injustice for a very long time.
My friends and I—we have worked our asses off to know ourselves, be better people, overcome painful pasts, and help others do the same. We have built communities that we cherish. Those without the support of loving families have created their own. We our your neighbors. We are the clerk at the grocery store, we are artists and musicians, we are engineers, yoga teachers, librarians, cops and doctors, we are photographers, nurses, lawyers and teachers, we are writers, scientists, journalists and poets. We go to your church and we sing in the choir, our kids are in the same class, we went to school together, we live all over the country, in the big city, the suburbs and on ranches and farms.
Eight years ago we had hope that the world might be getting better, kinder, more compassionate, and safer for us all. Tuesday night, that hope was crushed, and a spotlight shined on the ugly reality that hatred, bigotry, sexism and intolerance are not only as bad as they ever were, but they have been thriving and growing.
The America we woke up to is not the one we thought we were living in.
By voting for Trump and putting the Republican Party in power, you have shown me you don’t value women, religious diversity, people with disabilities, People of Color, immigrants, gay people, trans people, the environment, my friend, my family or basic human decency. I overlooked the veiled racism you spouted when Obama was elected, but I will not forget this.
Things are getting ugly.
Since Tuesday, I am hearing the word “wetback” tossed around lightly in social media. It’s a word I’ve only ever heard said with hate twice before in my life. A word that my mother was taunted with when she was a kid, that she only spoke of once. But that was before the Civil Rights Movement, and UFW, before people knew any better, I thought.
“Wetback” is a word that I assumed went out of fashion because (in case you didn’t know) it is so blatantly racist and loaded, like the n-word—not something nice people say. Ever. But here it is, back in fashion. Why? Because Trump wants to emulate the horrors of Operation Wetback. Somehow I had missed this tidbit in the news amidst all the other craziness. Do you think it’s ok to kill people because they want a better life and a future for thier kids?
I overhear people in Target talking loudly about hating “all the Muslims” and that “all Muslims are terrorists,” while I’m shopping for clothes for my kid, and trying to dissapear into the clothing rack. They didn’t notice me, or even care who heard them, and no one said a word. What if my Muslim friends were with me? What if their kids were here?
I can’t look at the news anymore, because the stories of kids being bullied, women being assaulted, David Duke and the KKK gloating is making my stomach churn. I live in one of the most liberal and educated cities in this country, yet hate still happens here. I can’t imagine what it’s like for my friends who live in rural, conservative areas. My heart is broken for them.
We are worried.
We are worrying about health care, pre-existing conditions, affording medication for our kids, and meds that keep some of us alive if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. We have been burned before by Republicans on health care and we remember.
We are traumatized.
We are appalled at how many people in this country don’t care that a man who boasted about sexually assaulting women will be running this country.
We are reliving years of sexual harassment and abuse.
We are worried women will die without healthcare and access to safe abortions.
We are remembering the friends we have lost—children who committed suicide because they could not take another day of being bullied and children who were murdered for being gay.
We are worried that freedom of the press is under threat, and that freedom of speech will soon follow.
We are embarrassed at how the rest of the world sees our country.
We are scared.
We can’t believe we will have a government that denies global warming.
We are afraid that the desecration of land, water and sacred sites for profit and greed will now continue unchecked.
We are mourning the potential loss of institutions which have kept another World War at bay.
We are terrified that a volatile childish man will get us into another horrific war.
We are remembering that history has shown us how fast good people can go bad.
We are remembering being lied to about Iraq, Jim Crow, Auschwitz, and interment camps.
We are afraid of losing our civil rights, and that our constitution is going to be trampled.
We are desperately trying to explain this to our children in a way that won’t scare them.
Don’t tell me everything is going to be fine. These fears are grounded in the reality of Trump’s, words and actions, his campaign platform, that of his running mate, and the Republican Party.
Did you hear what they said?
We are busy taking care of each other, of our communities, we are busy marching to show the world that hate will not win, we are grieving, sitting in shock, opening our homes and businesses to people who need a safe space, lighting candles and saying prayers. We are trying to get back to work, and back to taking care of our children and elders and desperately grasping for small moments of normalcy.
The last thing I want to do is hug you and stop talking about politics—I can’t stop talking about politics.
I am tired and sad, and I can’t say when, or if, I will ever trust you again.