November 22, 2016

No, I Won’t Shut Up About The Election

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Unsplash, Juliette Jeufke
Unsplash, Juliette Jeufke

As I scrolled through Facebook Wednesday morning, there were many posts discussing the previous night’s presidential election. Most expressed feelings of devastation, concern, and worry. Conversely and much to my dismay, there were also several appalling posts.

The latter included individuals with the audacity to shame and criticize those who exercised their voices and expressed genuine concern regarding the new president. I was shocked and angered to read statuses that either passive aggressively or outwardly guided friends and acquaintances to stop posting, calling democrats and liberals immature, whiners, and sore losers to name a few.

I could not help but notice the race, gender, class, and sexual orientation from which the most offensive statements of all came from — white, heterosexual, upper-middle class men. For the record, white heterosexual women were not far behind in these posts. These were the individuals who took it upon themselves to patronize, lead, and attempt to quiet the Facebook community.

Let me school you for a second regarding positionality and intersectionality in our society. Regardless of political affiliation, being a white financially stable heterosexual man means you most likely do not have firsthand experience of classism, sexism, or racism. You do not know of the oppression your wives, daughters, sisters, and mothers face on a regular basis.

You do not fully understand oppression, because you are rarely, if ever, subjected to it. You are unaware of the fight to earn equal status of male counterparts. You do not have to endure endless overt and covert [unsolicited] mistreatments and sexually suggestive comments. You do not know what it’s like to be afraid to have a voice, and to fear being blamed for honesty.

Before pointing fingers at women for any of this, please stop and think. Realize you would not appreciate this treatment.

You would not welcome the catcalls in parking lots during the middle of a workday. You would not appreciate his eyes as they follow your ass while walking to the car. You would not like to be subjected to any of this. White financially stable straight men, you do not know.

Better yet, you are protected under Trump. He will continue to keep filling your bank accounts while shielding you from marginalization. So if you are not upset about the current state of the country and would rather not acknowledge what this means for those around you, please stand down.

This message does not only apply to the aforementioned individuals who may fit into the categories described. In fact, it might not apply at all. I certainly know men that don’t exhibit any of these traits. That may not understand oppression on a personal level, but choose to take the path of understanding, silence, and empathy.

Some may fit into the categories described and exude the opposite outlooks, affiliations, and behaviors. I am merely stating observations of day one. Regardless of who you are and what you stand for, but especially those with significant power in this country, I ask that we allow one another to process. Even if that means using freedom of speech on whatever forum he or she chooses.

If you are tired of Facebook statuses, stop reading them. Do not, however, use your privilege to silence those around you. Do not think for one minute this is in your power.

As a white woman in this country, I am almost fully aware of my privilege. It is because of my skin color that I am affiliated with a white man (for example, father or husband). Said white man’s position in society grants access to opportunity and guarantees financial cushion.

In other words, the more hetero-normative and the higher SES, the more privilege he has and there is being associated with him. Due to my positionality, I am therefore less affected by Trump’s future regime than women of color for example.

I am, however, not immune to it. As a woman, a human being, and someone who has both friends and family that are less privileged and suffer different levels of oppression, I feel for us. I feel not only for friends, family, and the American people, but also [and most] deeply for humanity.

The election represents more than blue versus red, left versus right, women versus men. The results engender feelings larger than the loss of an election. This election represents the questionable future of American society, loss of human rights, damage to mother earth, and a nation more divided than ever.

The concerns that bombard Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Homepage newsfeeds are real. They are driven by worry and backed by facts that are detrimental to our existence. With the newly elected president comes a fear from liberals and democrats that our country will be set back almost a century and taken to a place of no return.

This president stands at the root of oppression and will drive a country based on hate. He has plans to execute actions that will increase climate change irrevocably; these plans will ruin the lives of our children and all the other beautiful species that live on this earth.

Before you call me dramatic and excessive, let me ask a question. Have you looked into this? I mean really looked into the consequences of Trump’s political plans besides reading headlines and watching Fox News? If you are tuning out, now is when we are going to need you to tune in.

Without becoming educated on these issues, we do little to stop the damage. Do us all a favor and stop ignoring what the world is grieving. For those of you who feel the need to silence or placate others as they mourn the future status of the nation, first ask yourself:

Do you care about the wellbeing of our planet? Do you have friends or family that are in the LGBT community? Do you have friends or family that are Muslim? Do you have friends or family that are people of color? Do you have women in your family? Do you have daughters, sisters, and mothers? Are you a woman?

You most certainly are or know of these individuals. I am part of these groups and have friends and family in each of them. I have worked for and with these individuals, and stood next to them as they fight the endless battle of oppression.

They are not fundamentally different than me. They do not deserve less opportunity or resources than me. They have not worked less hard than me.

I have seen their pain and felt their struggle. That being said, if you have not personally felt the hurt of society’s stratification, then please hold the oppressive silencing comments.

Do not attempt to silence us until you can guarantee that we are given access to birth control and 2017-2020 will maintain women’s rights. Do not tell me to stop worrying until abortion remains legal. Do not ridicule us until minorities, people with disabilities, the LGBT community, and people of color are protected. Do not deny that mother earth is in jeopardy when people who do not believe in global warming will lead the energy department.

If you believe in a president that endorses these aforementioned movements and utters racist, sexist, classist, and homophobic comments in front of the entire world and still think he is fit to run our country, more power to you. If you feel the need to defend his statements, then fine.

Maybe he didn’t “mean” any of countless derogatory comments, but what he represents is far greater than you can imagine. It is far more detrimental than our wildest fears. What’s concerning now are the individuals who act out what DJT preaches. These are people who will and already have executed DJT’s beliefs into behaviors. These behaviors manifest into hate crimes that further damage our society and those who live in it.

Take a look around, the hate crimes have already started. They hit very close to home and target friends, family, colleagues, classmates, co-workers, and neighbors. They are real and will not stop until we rise up.

We failed as a country. We refused to look at the facts and bought into narcissistic backwards charm. We believed in the unobtainable and unrealistic American dream. We gobbled up fear. We acted selfishly and egocentrically. We were greedy in this election.

In an attempt to protect lofty positions and wealth, we forgot other people. We failed to realize that the new president and everything he stands for does not have promise to protect us. He will not ensure we are all in this together. He will not save us from warfare. His plans to carry out the Keystone Pipeline will not preserve us. He will build walls and walls and walls.

DJT will not make America great, because building walls does not make any country great. It blocks out love and love is the only thing that will ever conquer hate.

So no, we won’t calm down. No, we will not stop speaking. No, we will not stop fighting. No, we will not stop posting. We will not stop until you listen.

We cannot push the future of our country to the back of our minds. We cannot avoid that which makes us uncomfortable. It is and will continue to be relevant and personal to all of us as American citizens regardless and because of our race, gender, class, and sexual orientation (and how these intersect). The moment we ignore the future of America is when we fall as a nation.

So please, let us approach one another with grace and kindness and allow us the space to grieve and process. It is only then that we can rise. Rise to fight for our country and one another.

It is only then that we can move forward and be positive. It is only then that we will push out the hate and encompass the nation in love. It is only when we have had the time to regain strength that we can build one another up and work together to break the walls down. TC mark

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