Twenty-four hours ago, we elected a president.
I’ve never openly discussed politics on this blog, but if you can read between the lines, you could probably infer where I stand. If you and I are friends on Facebook, no inference is required, you know. My political beliefs were driven further to the left this last election cycle then I ever thought they could be when I openly supported Bernie Sanders and then Hillary Clinton.
In every presidential election prior to this, I voted along the lines of someone who was socially liberal but fiscally conservative. I want less waste in government spending, but I don’t think trickle down economics ever really trickle down to the people who need it, so I wanted a huge change too. That is in line with what I hear everyone saying they want, all the time, they just want “change.”
They’re dissatisfied with their life, as it stands currently, in America. Are you white and living in a very poor rural area? Statistically speaking, you’re, more likely than not, dissatisfied. Are you black and living in the inner city? Statistically speaking, you’re, more likely than not, dissatisfied. You’re not getting what you feel you deserve. If you have money, you’re, more likely than not, upset that you have to pay for these people you feel don’t deserve any of your hard earned money.
You feel other people are ruining your chances at getting what you want or keeping what you have. The only difference is which group you feel is ruining those chances.
I looked at both major party candidates with extreme scrutiny before I cast my ballot. I was skeptical of Hillary. But, I parent children who are immigrants and children with disabilities. I cast my vote so far further left economically than I ever have because I feel my kids need to be protected socially. Why?
I saw the writing on the wall in my home state first. We elected a Governor who busted up all the unions. He tore into our public schools. But, he’s building us a beautiful new basketball stadium, with taxpayer dollars. “We’ll have great things. We’ll build beautiful things. Our roads, our bridges, they will be amazing.” I heard those words during this presidential cycle and I thought “But, I’ve heard that for the last six years right here at home and I am WORSE OFF both socially AND economically.”
My children are worse off than they were eight years ago. No, electing a black president didn’t “fix everything.” I love our current president, not all of his policies, but I love him as an example to my children. I think his presidency was socially a step forward, and a sharp yank backwards, all at once. People celebrated openly, but below it all there was an undercurrent of anger. There were people who were frightened, who longed for the time when a black president wasn’t even possible. When life was “great” for some people, but not for others. Our current president represents, to some people, the group they feel are holding them back from what they deserve. Hate groups started to increase in numbers during his presidency. Then, all of the sudden, this election cycle happened and David Duke decided to speak more openly, and even endorse a candidate. I waited for the endorsed candidate to speak openly about his repulsive backer. The campaign made a statement, but the candidate never openly said a word.
I saw the writing on the wall filter to my local community, my local urban, liberal community. It started with little snickers about “political correctness” and how people didn’t want to be forced to adhere to it. It bothers people when I correct them about their use of the word ‘oriental’ or ‘colored.’ “Well, that’s what we used, I’m not sure why it bothers you so much. Sheesh. Everything has to be so ‘pc’ these days.” ‘Oriental’ is reserved for rugs and ‘colored’ harkens back to a time when people my color drank at separate water fountains from people the color of my children. In the olden days you may have used these words to describe people. We simply don’t anymore.
Being politically correct isn’t just about the language you use though. It’s about the meaning behind the words. It’s about whether you give my children enough respect as humans to make the effort to alter your word choices from the time they pop into your brain until the moment they exit your mouth. That is what equality is all about. It’s about respect. If you can’t make that little effort, well then, you don’t respect them.
There was hope for us before. For the first time, I heard some good, honest, real conversations about mass incarceration. The reality of the ‘war on drugs’ was being brought out into the open. I heard people acknowledging police brutality against the black community in ways I never had. My LGBTQ friends were marrying each other. My disabled child had a health care policy that had no pre-existing condition clause or lifetime limit. Yes, I was paying an arm and a leg for it but she had it.
We elected a president yesterday.
He was elected on a platform shrouded in fear. Fear that things would never change, and fear that things were changing too much.
I will admit I voted out of fear. Other people did too.
I voted with hope. Other people did too.
Both sides did what they thought was best. I don’t pretend to understand, and no one has really been able to concretely explain it to me. I can only say why I voted the way I did.
I voted with the hope of seeing mass incarceration end in my lifetime. I voted so that my LGBTQ friends could stay married. I voted to see my daughter’s health insurance protected. I voted with the hope that, someday, I would be able to not have to pay an arm and a leg for it. I voted for the candidate I thought could decrease the numbers of abortions without punishing women for their choice.
None of that happened.
There will be no end to mass incarceration. The only stock that rose as the rest of the Dow tanked in the wake of electing our new president, was that of private prisons.
My LGBTQ friends now have a vice-president who believes they need to be “cured” and that conversion therapy is a legitimate way to do it.
My daughter will lose her health insurance shortly after the inauguration, and we have currently have nothing concrete to replace it with. We will have to take advantage of a social program that we will have to count on taxpayers to pay for. I don’t want to do that. I would like to pay for her insurance. I would like to continue to pay for the insurance of the 21 people I currently employ. I would like to KNOW that is going to happen.
I am a nurse who has held the hand of women who have cried as they made the gut wrenching decision to terminate their pregnancy to save their own life. I fear they will be driven underground now to make that choice in an unsafe place, or that they won’t be able to choose it at all.
Can you imagine why that might have hit me hard? The loss is personal. My family, and all the people I employ will be personally affected. Maybe you were affected in positive ways. My family, and my tribe simply weren’t. So, we grieve. Is that so damn hard to understand?
During the grief, the hate came. It came like a a tsunami. Any time I spoke of disappointment in a public space online it was greeted with “Get over it the way we got over Obama!” “Shut up Libtard!” “You don’t like it? LEAVE!”
Yes, those are extreme examples. There were more subtly dismissive, personal messages from “friends” too, ones that directly involved my kids, who were, and still are, frightened. They’re frightened of the hate, but also the massive change we will endure. In response to that, I got this, “Why do they even know about the election?” “Maybe YOU are making them afraid?”
They know about it because of this.
Those are examples from around the country. Do you honestly think they’re isolated examples? I have a friend who contacted me via text this morning to tell me that in her administrative role at a school in a large city right down the road from us she spent all day yesterday making calls to parents of students who were bullying the students who attend her school and happen to be of middle eastern descent. Her calls were met with parents who don’t give a good hot damn that their kids are doing this. Why don’t they care? Because they learned it at home.
Don’t you dare dismiss my children’s pain.
Don’t you dare dismiss those children’s pain.
If you’re a person of color, or an immigrant, you know that pain. You know it even at the age of six. Yes, I tell my children about some of it too. I tell them because they WILL encounter this, and I would be doing a piss poor job as a parent if I didn’t send them to school KNOWING what to do if they’re told to “Go home!” or if someone screams at them “Let’s see how much your black life matters now!” Those are both less extreme, but real, life examples. I tell them what to do if they’re called ‘ni**er.’ I tell them what to do if they encounter the police.
I tell them what to do because I don’t want them to die. This just occurred in our state. I’ve written about that many times before, about what a horrible decision it is to have to make as their mother, to steal their innocence to keep them safe. I’ve asked people to allow us our fear. When you tell me I’m being alarmist, I will simply send you to your closest friend of color and ask them what they tell their children. They have likely been doing what I have since the time of lynchings and internments, stealing their innocence to keep them alive. If you don’t have any friends of color to ask, well, then I think you should self-reflect on why that is. Don’t get your knickers in a twist. I’m not calling you a racist. I’m merely asking if isolation might play a role in some of your dismissive beliefs.
After all this yesterday, after a loss that will effect Tess, Gigi, and our family in a rather scary way, and then being told over and over to ‘get over it.’ After all that, I started to get messages. Yes, they went to my ‘message requests’ folder on Facebook, but when you have 100+ of them, you look. I’m pasting some of the content below.
I hope you see now what being a race traitor gets you. Trump 2016!
I hope your husband beats you regularly.
You and your ni*glet children asked for this.
We’re making America white again.
It went on, and on, and on, with hopes of sexual assault for me at the hands of various people of color and vulgarities the likes of which I’ve never heard. I deleted and blocked, deleted and blocked. They kept coming. 18 different accounts. All of the notes were signed by Vladimir Putin himself. So, all the messages were likely from the same man, using his tiny hands to type madly to me from his mother’s basement. I told myself that to comfort myself.
This morning I deactivated my Facebook and Twitter accounts. Saddest part is this is the SECOND time I’ve had to do this. I have never, in all of my Facebook life, been openly disrespectful to someone because of their beliefs. I have ranted privately to FullPlateDad. I have cried. I swear more than I care to admit. I have absolutely engaged in conversation with people I would consider bigots. I have used photos of my family to try to explain “our side.” This has now been met TWICE with personal, open hatred and threats toward my physical safety. This time, they include the name of the man who will be my president.
Today my full name was posted on a subreddit for the alt-right. It encouraged people to find my home address, which was soon done by one of the commenters. My home address, where my children live.
I have to figure out where to go from here.
For now, the waiting child advocacy is done. I quit yesterday. That was like losing a piece of myself. I told Tess we needed to take a break from naming babies and finding their forever families because bullies kept messaging mom through social media, the forum which we use for advocacy. She was upset, and mostly worried that her babies would never find their mamas now. It’s so much for such tiny shoulders bear.
Ally’s Facebook account has been purged. The kids Twitter account is gone. A Drop Cam will go in next to our front door. Additional security protections were added to this blog including more IP tracking and blocking software.
As I filed that police report, sending in each one of those ungodly messages, it didn’t feel like there was much hope left.
There is hope though. Two of the teachers I employ wrote a beautiful message to the parents of the children they serve today, parents who are grieving too, who I will stand shoulder with because some of them belong to the LGBTQ community and don’t know that their marriages will be valid in the eyes of their government anymore.
But as the saying goes, “nothing worthwhile is easy”. And nothing is more worthwhile than giving children a positive, safe, fun place to grow. So we counted, we pretended to be frogs, we dressed up as butterflies, we connected little pieces of nature in paper bags and then had a blast shredding those bags and sending their contents back to nature. We dug for worms, we made messes in our classroom and outside, we practiced our big jumps, we ran, we sang, we screamed, we read, and we rested. We hugged each other when we were sad, we surprised ourselves with laughter, we told each other (and were told by each other) that it would be ok, we leaned on each other, we learned.
I have hope because that friend who is an administrator at a school texted me back tonight to tell me that nearly all the bullying she dealt with today was reported by white students who were standing by and reporting threats to their middle eastern and latino classmates.
I have hope because Juliana wrote me this today.
During our adoptions, some of our most hopeful times as a family, the kids always come up with a hashtag for the updates we posted to social media. #GodBlessOurTess, #OhBo, #CantWaitForCate, and finally, during Gigi’s adoption, #WeRise. We made it our anthem to ‘Rise By Lifting Others.’ We even made t-shirts with that message. When I saw this message of hope destroyed by hate, and this message was set next to it, it was like a message for me.
Now we do that again, but because our family has been yanked backwards into some dangerous territory, we do that in a more private forum. There won’t be Facebook for awhile. No Instagram. No Twitter (I’m convinced it’s of the devil). We live in a loving, goodhearted, socially liberal community that still has MUCH work to do. It is now our job to keep moving it moving forward. We will join grassroots advocacy efforts for the LGBTQ members of our local community whose rights will be rolled back with this presidency. We’re going to continue to loudly proclaim that black lives matter, which may come in the form of protesting. We will volunteer for candidates who seek to protect the right of health care for ALL people, because we believe it is a right, and not a privilege.
It’s our job to make sure that in four years, when I will be joined at the polls by both Ally and Cam, that we’re not voting out of fear, but only out of hope. This nasty woman will stand proudly next to her two black children and vote for hope, in whatever form it comes in.
On Wednesday morning when Brady came to me and said nothing, but just looked at me expectantly, with both fear and hope in his eyes, and I had to tell him that the outcome wasn’t what we hoped, but that we needed to rise and lift everyone else with us that we could grab on the way, he looked at me and I asked him…
“READY TO GO!”
–FullPlateMom, who is fired up and ready to go, because our 13 voices can change the world.