Never in my life have I felt so torn. On the one hand, I find myself often needing to just turn away from social media and the news, because every time I check, there is yet another disturbing and horrific headline. But then again, I need to be informed. I don’t want to stick my head in the sand. I will not fall in line, sit back, and normalize what is happening in America.
I will be the first to admit that I’ve not always been politically savvy. I didn’t really pay much attention to politics until it was time to vote for Barack Obama, and I was excited to do so. I remember staying up late on Election Day in 2008, watching history being made, and feeling so proud to be an American, so proud to be part of this type of progressive achievement. And now when I wake up every day, it’s like I’m living in some kind of regressive, soon to be apocalyptic, nightmare.
In just two weeks, Donald Trump has signed off on some of the most oppressive and disgusting Executive Orders in the history of our country. A woman’s right to choose what is best for her health and her body should not be dismissed and trampled on by a room full of conservative white men. Moving forward to build a toxic pipeline through the sacred lands and waters of the true natives of this country should not be a decision made by a greedy billionaire and his wealthy cabinet of cronies. Singling out groups of people and denying them refuge from war or the long sought after American dream because of their faith and ethnicity is repugnant.
This is wrong. This is moving backwards. This is not my America. It’s heartbreaking to witness this type of regression and hatred. Yes, hatred. That’s exactly what it is. Racism. Sexism. Islamophobia. Homophobia. It all comes down to the same thing – hatred for those who are different.
All of this is so profoundly divisive, and I’ve experienced that first hand. I recently lost one of my best friends over all of this. We’d known each other for a decade, but after the election, I was so shaken and upset by the result. So naive in my white privilege. I desperately wanted to try and understand why this happened. I sought out conversation with my former friend who had a history of being a conservative Republican. I just wanted to understand the other side from someone I loved and trusted, and you know what happened? She couldn’t even have a conversation about it.
The more questions I asked, the more silent and defensive she became. And I realized that I thought I knew this person so well, but we hadn’t ever really talked about this stuff. Important stuff. About our core values and beliefs. About diversity and inclusivity. About basic human decency. And as I began to replay past conversations in my head, where I’d brought up my loved ones who are gay, or wanting to write diverse characters in my stories, I remembered that she never really participated in any of it. I began to realize that maybe we didn’t actually have the same values and beliefs. But rather than have a conversation about this, my former friend abruptly ended our friendship and told me I was being used by Satan. I wanted to talk about equality and justice, and she couldn’t even dip a toe in the conversation, but I was the one possessed by evil? And really, when you can’t even have a respectful adult conversation about these things, when you are so shaken by mere questioning about them, I can only conclude that at the core of what you think, feel, and believe is shame.
All of this has my head spinning. To live in a world where there is talk of a wall being built between countries. Where we are turning away refugees seeking safety and peace. Where we are vilifying the press. Where the man sitting in the highest office in our nation chooses to spend his time lying about easily vetted things, insulting foreign countries, making his wallet and the wallets of his friends fatter, and using every possible moment of screen time to deepen the divide of America…all of it is just really and truly terrible.
I feel sick and lost and scared. And the sad thing is that I know I’ve only felt this way for a few months while marginalized people have felt this way their entire lives. So shame on me. I suppose the best I can do for now is: 1) continue to be informed by concrete sources, 2) be vocal and steadfast in my denouncement of these disgusting injustices, 3) continue to sign petitions, contact my representatives, and donate to organizations like Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, and 4) reiterate that I am an ally, I am not okay with any of this, and I will continue to support and advocate for all of those being negatively impacted by this new administration.