Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Day After

So I guess Donald Trump is going to be the President of the United States of America.

I am saddened and frustrated by the results of the election, but this post isn't about that. Not exactly, at least. It's not about what I think of Donald Trump as a human, or how he managed to win, or how Bernie Sanders would've mopped the floor with Trump, or what's next for Hillary Clinton, or anything else.

No, that's not what I'm here to talk about. This post is about me, and this post is about you.

This post is about all of us who have been horrified from day one about the idea of Trump as President, and the reasons we felt that way, and how we cringed as each round of results got posted and Trump's victory seemed more and more likely.

This post is about what we're supposed to do next, now that we're on the ass end of this election.

The classic joke is to say we're moving to Canada, or Australia, or Germany, or wherever else you think you might find respite from whatever a Trump presidency looks like.

I can't do that. I can't leave. And I don't mean that in a literal way, just because I don't have a passport. I could get a passport. I could apply to work as an ALT in Japan (I'm learning quite a bit about the process). I could move to Canada and get a job as a Zamboni driver (although, I imagine the competition is a bit stiffer up there).

But from a moral standpoint, I can't leave. When I woke up yesterday morning, this was my country. As I watched the election results tonight, this was my country.

When I wake up tomorrow, this will still be my fucking country.

The United States, to me, has always been about hope, and about trying to make things better for generations to come. And sometimes, things suck.

Our nation has fought in multiple wars, most in victory, some in defeat. Our nation has stared down the Soviet Union's nuclear arsenal in the Cold War. Our nation has been the victim of massive terrorist attacks in New York, in Oklahoma City, and in far too many other places. Today, our country faces very real issues of racism, and sexism, and hatred, and fear. And make no mistake, those sentiments are a big part of why Donald Trump was elected.

So what do we do now?

As I said, I have no plans of abandoning my country in its hour of need, and I implore you to resist that urge as well. If you truly believe that the election of Donald Trump represents a worrisome acceptance of disrespect, then your patriotism is needed now more than ever.

As a white male, I've got it pretty easy. I don't find that I get discriminated against, like ever, at least as far as I can tell. So when I hear people talk about how society is stacked against black people, or the LGBT community, or women, or Latinos, I've always thought to myself, "I don't have a ton of personal experience to draw from to understand this."

But, I kind of do.

I've grown up hearing (and in my embarrassing youth, occasionally saying myself) the word "gay" or "fag" with a negative connotation. I've heard people talk about crime problems in "inner cities" and "urban areas," and knowing that what they're trying to say in a thinly-veiled code is that black people are criminals. I've heard women referred to as "bitch" or worse, in circumstances that would not warrant a proportionally equivalent insult to a man.

To summarize, I've seen and heard white men say and do things that reinforce a sense of superiority for white men. Well, it's time to stop all that.

For a long time I just brushed by these kinds of comments, but at some point I read an article (probably one of the millions of posts I get emailed from Medium), and it triggered something in my head that said, "No, you can't just not say anything anymore."

And that goes for all of us. We have to stand up.

If you're white and you hear someone say something overtly or covertly racist, you have to call them out on it. If you're a man and you hear someone shit-talk a woman simply for being a woman, let them know you understand exactly what they're doing. If you're a human being and you hear someone say "faggot," it's your responsibility to bury that shit.

The United States has always, at least in a vague way, yearned to stand up for the less fortunate. It's time for us Americans to be less vague about it.

The greatest flaw of the Donald Trump "movement" is that it has allowed room for misogyny, bigotry, and a general disrespect for our fellow humans. But there's no reason that his victory has to stifle our ability to be decent to each other.

As the old saying goes, "Be the change you want to see in the world."

So be better, people. Our country needs us.

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