I read a couple of beautiful posts from a couple of wonderful and wise, straight, white, male friends. The posts both advised to bridge gaps, to talk to Trump supporters, and understand why they voted the way they did, that most Trump supporters are not racist or sexist. But here’s the thing – the package that they signed up for, racism and misogyny come with it. As Hasan Mihnaj said, it’s part of the deal . You may not personally be a racist/sexist, but with your vote, you’ve basically said “I don’t hate you, I just don’t care about you”. Which I guess I can have a little understanding for simply because a lot of the people who voted that way are from rural areas, and have maybe never met a Muslim or an immigrant or anyone from the LBGTQ community. Lack of exposure directly correlates to lack of empathy .
But those beautiful, diplomatic posts don’t address the issue that I am struggling with the most – that, not strangers who have never encountered these different people, but my immediate family and at least one close friend, have chosen to vote this way. And I know their reasons. Some are hoping for a change in their economic status. Some are hoping for a supreme court that will overturn marriage equality and Roe vs. Wade (which in and of itself is beyond problematic for me, but not unexpected, and that’s a post for another day). It’s that these issues, to them, outweigh my own safety. That a slight decline in their healthcare premium is somehow more important than my autonomy over my own body. That a court decision that has been in place since the 70s is creating such a desperate situation, that the safety of my husband is expendable. That the need to ensure gay people have no illusion of equality with good, God-fearing Christians, the future of my brown, Muslim children can be uncertain.
That’s the package deal they have signed up for. They are effectively saying to me “Of course we don’t hate you and your family, but we don’t care enough about you. These other things are more important than your well-being”. And that is what they are saying. In fact, about a month before the election, while (very) briefly discussing who I was not voting for, given the fact that I am a woman and I am married to a Muslim man and I have friends and family who are not yet entirely legal, a family member, who I love very dearly said “You’ll probably be okay”. Probably? And that’s enough? That the probable safety of their daughter/granddaughter/niece/cousin and her husband and kids is not only sufficient, but worth the risk.
And that is where my struggle comes in. I am devastated that such a huge portion of the country has chosen to pursue their own interests at all costs. But I am gutted that my own family has done it. And so what do I do now? How do I walk in to Thanksgiving with a smile on my face and love in my heart, when all I am capable of feeling at the moment is angry and betrayed? How do I build this bridge that my wonderful friends posted about and forgive my family? Especially when I know that they are not sorry, that most of them would probably not change their vote, even if they could.
And you know what? I kind of don’t even want to forgive and move on yet. I kind of want to stay angry and hurt. I want to embrace this feeling and poke at the anger and make it angrier. I want them to understand how I feel but I don’t want to sit down and have a nice rational, compassionate conversation. I want to sneer at them and spit out all of the times I have been sexually assaulted. I want to shout out them that I fear every time my husband leaves the house that he’s going to be attacked because he is brown and Muslim and that their selfishness and willing ignorance and misguided morality has painted a target on our backs. And I want this anger to spur me into action. I want to hold this anger close to me for the rest of my life and always use it to do something helpful. And now, instead of saying “Oh good, I’m glad someone is doing something”, I hope this anger makes me say “Fuck yeah. I’m in.” I want my family to see my anger and my actions, and I hope they eventually understand. But first, I hope that they get angry too.