Finding a voice

Like many people, I am stunned that the United States elected an outspoken candidate who disparaged various groups of people who he deemed offensive or fair game for ridicule: Mexicans, Muslims, women in general, women of size specifically, veterans, people of non-typical abilities…the list goes on.

I sat in silence, trying to process.  I asked myself, “What happened?  What did people find attractive about a candidate like this?”  Trying to find the silver lining. Trying to be positive, because we teach our children that whether we agree or disagree with elected officials, we owe them a measure of respect because they are choosing to do a job that we do not want to do.

I watched as passions flared, seeing posts on social media from people who voted Republican, Democrat, or even {gasp!} third party.  So many words, so many emotions, and no solutions aside from commands to get over it or to get ready to put up a fight.

There are still so many things roiling around inside of me.  My shoulders have been in knots since the election results started rolling in on November 8th.  Despite assurances that there was no way the president-elect was going to win, win he did.  We have a new reality to contend with, and I am trying to figure out what it means for our bi-racial, Spanish-speaking family.  Where half of us look Latino and the other half could pass as status-quo white. What to do? What to say?

Then, one of our students was harassed on her way home from the zoo.  One car pulled alongside of them, and the other pulled in front of them and slowed down, two men in each vehicle.  They proceeded to drape out the confederate flag and a tattered Trump-Pence campaign sign from their windows.  Her daughter was in the car with her.  Her toddler child was confused, asking why these men were yelling at her mom and her.

That was the line in the sand.  I found a voice.  Not all of it.  Not even close. Nonetheless, here is a start, in part inspired by wanting to take a stand for this little girl, so that she knows that there are people who see her, and that it is unacceptable that she was frightened by angry men deliberately singling them out because her mother’s car has a Clinton-Kaine bumper sticker.

Here is what I posted on my personal social media page in response to that incident:

One of the comments I saw on social media is that people need to pull themselves up from their bootstraps and just get over the results of the election already. And that the safety pin campaign is pointless, real heroes wear pins from the armed services.

Three thoughts on those particular comments:

ONE ~ People in the armed services are heroes – and so are their families – EVERY DAY. Recognizing other people that are willing to stand up for all of us to have our inalienable rights intact doesn’t diminish their service…to me it means that civilians can be heroes, too.

TWO ~ The sun still rose on Wednesday, Nov 9th, and now one of our contemporaries or one of our daughters has the opportunity to become the first female President – I can deal with that. I don’t know anyone from any side of the issues that didn’t get up the next day and go to work. We pulled up our bootstraps and went to work, albeit some with a little more apprehension than other people.

THREE ~ From the time that we woke up on Wednesday, November 9, 2016, there are some of us in this country who will never truly be “free” again. Unless a person with true personal strength and character who has the power and the law behind them decides to speak up and to call off the bigotry and prejudice that was given voice by Trump’s election, and lead from a place of love and understanding. There is a lot to overcome.

Trump rallied ***some*** (I understand that not **all**) of his supporters with rhetoric that set up the “us” against “them”. He called out Mexicans and Muslims, and he also made disparaging remarks about women, people of size, and people of non-typical mental ability. He chose a running mate that has taken Christian conservative stances on women’s rights and LGBTQ+ rights: essentially, that they have no rights if they choose to live outside of God’s laws.  

As the votes were counted, it became clear that Trump won the electoral college. Those people who voted for him to make “America Great Again” by removing the “them” he campaigned against feel like they have a champion. And some of his supporters are acting on it. Saying “Stop it” one time, looking at the camera – that clearly means nothing other than a wink and a smile to those continuing to try to spark a new reign of terror.

If you can deny the rhetoric or the harassment, then you are as complicit to the hatred that has been unleashed as the people who are carrying out the harassment and painting hateful graffiti in public spaces. If you are willing to excuse it because “I believe in pro-life” or “I believe he can save the economy” or “I want my guns,” or however else you chose to rationalize voting for a person who only cares about himself and his personal power, then I still don’t have kind enough words to write for all the feelings I have swirling around inside me right now.

So instead of telling ME to pull myself up by my bootstraps and just get over it already, tell me what you are doing to make sure that you and your neighbors that voted for Trump are going to stand up to the bullies who feel justified harassing people in a parking lot who have Clinton-Kaine stickers on their car. Tell me what you are doing to stand up to the people who are impeding traffic by boxing people in who have Clinton-Kaine stickers on their car. Tell me that you are going to defend my LGBTQ+ friends because they are human and deserve to live without fear, even if you disagree with their choice to live their truth without shame or apology. Tell me that you will stand next to my friends who wear a hijab so that they don’t have to face ugly words alone. Tell me that you would stand by my children and I if someone starts yelling at us to get back to Mexico because they assume that we are here illegally because we happen to speak Spanish in public.

My friends who supported Hillary with bumper stickers shouldn’t have to remove their freedom of speech stickers to avoid harassment. My LGBTQ+ friends shouldn’t have to conform to an accepted hetero- “norm”. My Muslim friends shouldn’t have to choose between personal safety and their interpretation of their religious book. I shouldn’t have to stop speaking Spanish to my children out of fear. Anyone who is ridiculed because they are not the right size, shape, color, or look non-typical. Tell me that person has an ally in you, and that you will call out their bully and walk them to wherever they are going so that they don’t have to be alone if they don’t want to be.

When I see actions from more Trump supporters that show that they are decent humans, then I will start to get over it. When I see that more Trump supporters are joining in the call for reasonable discourse instead of handing over the power to the alt-right and the Christian conservatives, then I will stop worrying every time I see Trump propaganda.

There is no place for “Christians” to tell the government how to do the business of governing.  While there are decent Christians who hold public office, their personal morals can inform their behavior towards their colleagues.  However, their morals have no place dictating public law.   The founding fathers made a very clear delineation between Church and State for a reason.

The Church can dictate morals for the home and what you should do if you are faced with breaking one of the commandments. The State has to ensure the peace and uphold the law, and that does not mean that some people get to tell other people how to love each other and what the acceptable moral code is or isn’t. The way I see it, we all agree to keep the peace, behave with civility and acknowledge that EVERY person that lives within our borders has the right of liberty and happiness. As constituents, we can lobby our representatives to make a clear path to citizenship so that all humans who want the promise of a better life can have it without breaking the law, and also without the fear that they are unwelcome because they are not the right color, orientation, or religion. Being human qualifies us to those inalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. End of story.

If you see a person being harassed in public, please be an ally.  Stand next to them, talk to them, let them know you see them, and stay by their side until they are ready to walk off alone.  If you witness or on the receiving end of hate speech or actions, speak up!!  PLEASE report any harassment you receive or you witness to the police. And then fill out the form on this page. United we STAND.

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