Trump is gaslighting the world.
It wouldn’t be responsible, even on this, a literary blog, not to acknowledge the horrible and dangerous results of the US election. This Monday, the day before it unfolded, I was targeted by a young white man because I am disabled. Many times as he boxed me in, his car preventing mine from moving, he told me I was a “ret— bitch” and said that I had better get used to people not getting out of my way.
He was right.
Because Trump was elected, I need to get used to the wreckage of my social justice dreams. Because Trump was elected, I need to get used to my life of being imperilled because I’m disabled, queer and a woman.
Now, on the transit of America, white men grab women by the breast or genitals and tell them they have that right. Now, on the transit of America, white women scream at women of colour, insisting they are “stalkers” (meaning terrorists) and call for their deportation. Now, on the streets of America, a white woman walking dogs can be shoved off a sidewalk by a white man saying, “You need to get back in your place now, woman.” A woman’s crotch was grabbed by a stranger in an LA gas station in broad daylight, who said, “How do you like it, bitch?” A disabled man in Ohio was almost rammed by a grocery cart while in his wheelchair and a woman said,”If you’re lucky President Trump will gas you first.” A Canadian queer man was beaten in Santa Monica. College students have been spit on and mocked with black face. Children have been chanting white slogans in schools, even in kindergartens, and handing deportation letters to their Latino classmates.
As I write this, Trump has been President-elect for three days.
Can I just emphasize that?
Three days . My twenty-month-old granddaughter can count that high. Day One. Day Two. Day Three.
Sit with what that might mean for the coming few months and the four years after that.
Compassion and understanding of Trump supporters is not what we need now. Love, insularity and protecting your own will not save anyone. We need to stop “waiting and seeing.” Or “giving him a chance.” Or saying, “Let’s chat a bit more.”
It’s too late for all that.
Come January 20, a white supremacist with little grasp of foreign politics will have the US nuclear codes in his hand and he doesn’t like to be crossed.
We need action.
So, realistically, what can you, the average Jo, do?
When you hear a racist comment, intercede to let the racist know you are listening and judging and her behaviour isn’t okay. When you witness harassment, even though it might cost you in bravery and time, act to stop it. When you hear children saying “White might” stop them. When you see a man being an asshole, tell him no.
Let your disabled, immigrant, LGBT, BIPOC friends know you’ve got their backs.
Tell a supermarket clerk you are keen to protect her rights.
Wear a white rose or safety pin to let people know you intend to be a safe haven.
Get used to the fact that much of your energy is going to have to be used to stop what’s happening. No, you didn’t ask for this, but this is what you’ve got now. And if you’re not part of the solution, yes, you’re part of the problem.
“Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal.”
― Martin Luther King Jr
“When all this is over, people will try to blame the Germans alone, and the Germans will try to blame the Nazis alone, and the Nazis will try to blame Hitler alone. They will make him bear the sins of the world. But it’s not true. You suspected what was happening, and so did I. It was already too late over a year ago. I caused a reporter to lose his job because you told me to. He was deported. The day I did that I made my little contribution to civilization, the only one that matters.”
― Iain Pears, The Dream of Scipio
|“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)
This is from Amy Ferris, an American, on FB:
“I’m gonna leave you with this.
So, tonight I went to our local yoga studio here in town. Truth be told, I don’t do yoga often, I’m more of a sit on your ass and watch it grow kinda woman. I know, I know… I know, but i’m learning to love every bad-ass inch of it, thank you very much. So, I go – reluctantly – and it’s jammed packed. It’s a cleansing bell ceremony. One hour. For the first 15 or so minutes I can barely breathe. Bells are ringing and chiming. Big bells, small bells, copper bells; little finger chimes. My head hurts. My heart hurts. I can feel my entire being shaking. I can feel the vibration. I can also feel every bit of anxiety & fear & worry and I wanna scream out-loud, but I don’t. I’m not a chime kinda girl.
Twenty minutes in, maybe twenty-five minutes in, I have an epiphany – a breakfast at epiphany moment. I no longer feel anxiety. I feel oddly calm, at ease. i feel – dare i say – buoyant. I kinda feel like I felt when I took Quaaludes.
So for months & months & months we’ve all been saying, writing, chanting #ImWithHer – our hashtag. I’m with her. And we write and share and galvanize. We are with her. She is our girl, our champion, she is our President. We forgive her all her flaws, we cheer her on, we adore her. We admire her. We criticize her, and yes, we judge her. We appreciate her. She is smart & sassy & bounces the fuck back. She is mighty. She is fierce. She is strong. She is grace. She is our imperfections, our mistakes, our foibles all rolled into one. She is our darkest secrets. She is our greatest dreams. She is our hope. She is cautious, collected. She is funny & quick. She falls down – she gets up. She is vilified, humiliated, embarrassed. She is saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, wearing the wrong clothes, wearing the wrong shoes. She falls down – she gets up. She is called under the carpet, she is swept under the rug; she is bold and audacious. She is our best moments, our worst moments and our nasty motherfucker moments. She takes punches. She takes jabs. She takes one hit after another after another. She is thrown under the bus. She is disliked. She is loved. She is ripped to shreds. She is put under a microscope. Dissected. She is ridiculed. She is a mother, a daughter, a grandmother, a wife. A public servant. She is complicated and messy; beautiful and gracious. She is resilient, passionate, committed. She is determined. She is the stars and the moon, the whole fucking SHEbang.
And then bam, she loses.
And holy shit, we all lose.
We all feel like we’ve lost, and that we are lost with no GPS in sight; that we’re spiraling into the darkest dirtiest most horrific abyss, and we mourn and grieve the end of her.
But here, this – this is the rub:
We woke up.
We needed to wake up.
This entire fucking election has been about waking up.
We have been screaming & marching & screaming about patriarchy & misogyny & sexism & equality for years & years & years & years. And she was gonna save us, make it happen – our knight-ess in shining armor.
So, i’m on a mat on the floor and my heart is pounding and my back is killing me and the faux suede oblong pillow under my knees is moving & shifting & slipping and i get it – a moment of clarity, not the pillow – I get it. We have now come face to face with the boogey man, and now what? We gotta save ourselves. And for one moment I see this as a huge motherfucker gift: we need to go from #ImWithHer to #IAmHer because we are her.
We are each her.
You are her and you are her and you over there in the corner you are her and you are her and you sitting down you are her and you are her and you are her and you are her and you texting your friend you are her and you are her and you are her and you eating sorbet and wishing it were ice cream you are her and you are her and you are her and you wishing to be seen and heard you are her and you are her and you are her and you are her and you are her and you with the baby screaming you are her and you are her and you with the broken heart you are her and you are her and you are her and you with the passion in your belly you are her and you are her and you are her and you with the desire to change the world you are her.
You are her.
And may I add my extreme gratitude to Ms Rodham Clinton for her run. And may I tell you that you have resources inside yourself that you didn’t know you had, and those resources will allow you to react, then rest, then stand again to resist oppression (RRR). There’s no prescribed way to do this. For you, it might be music, writing and making kick-ass art. For someone else, it might be attending rallies. For someone else, it might be combing through the legal system to find grounds for legal challenges.
There are more of us than there are of them and damn it, in the name of love and justice, we will win.