Ask any mother what she holds more dear – her life or the lives of her children – and she will not even take a breath before telling you it is her children. I have two beautiful black children. Two children who are immigrants in this country but belong here just as much as my white self does. Two children who have classified disabilities but have just as much value and importance and worth as anyone else. This country just elected a man who built a campaign based on hate, racism, xenophobia, and misogyny. A man who has openly mocked those with disabilities, discriminated against people of color, and bragged about sexually assaulting women. A man who has repeatedly called for the ban of an entire faith group. This devastates me.
During his campaign, Trump was a bully on his best day and a hateful bigot on his worst. He incited violence at his rallies and stoked the flames of hatred in this country. Words matter. Influence matters. Some of the most hateful people in this nation feel they have a supporter and a leader in Donald Trump. The KKK endorsed him. The alt-right celebrates him.
This is about so much more than party lines. This goes deeper than the typical political arguments. I’ve voted for candidates who have lost elections in the past and I’ve never felt the way I do today. Not once. Not even close.
Please do not tell me not to cry and grieve. Please do not tell your neighbors not to cry and grieve. Crying is a normal, healthy response to pain and fear and trauma. I make myself stronger and smarter when I own my emotions. I work harder and love deeper when I allow myself, and others, to feel. Don’t begrudge anyone that.
Christian friends, yes I know that Jesus is still on the throne. I take great comfort in that. But let me also remind you of a few things:
1. Jesus wept (John 11:35)
2. Ecclesiastes 3:4 tells me that there is “a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”
3. There is an entire book of the Bible titled Lamentations.
I want to reach out to my friends who don’t understand the reaction to the results of this election. I know you might be feeling very different than I do today and I am honestly glad for you that you have no reason to feel grief or fear in the wake of this election. I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I want that for all people. I will not lash out against you or my neighbors, but simply ask that we all take the time to listen.
As Van Jones said so well, “You have to hear the pain first before you tell people they are wrong to hurt.”
I’ve spent a lot of time in the past handful of days feeling a range of emotion: fear, grief, anger, lament, and even heartbroken acceptance. But I’ve also found my voice in a new way and I’m learning how to use it and channel it to “seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with [my] God” as Micah 6:8 tells me to do. I’m learning what that means for me in the reality of our tremendously broken world.
By now I’m sure you are aware that I did not vote for Donald Trump. I am sickened by him. Trump was a bully on his best day and a hateful bigot on his worst. He incited violence at his rallies and stoked the flames of hatred in this country. Words matter. Influence matters. Some of the most hateful people in this nation feel they have a supporter and a leader in Donald Trump (and they do.) The KKK endorsed him. The alt-right celebrates him.
Dr. Maya Angelou said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them.” Donald Trump spent his entire campaign telling us who he is. In the past few days I’ve heard a lot about just waiting and seeing – giving him a chance. That maybe he was all talk and we should wait to see what he actually does. That we shouldn’t judge him by who supports him.
Well, now Trump hasn’t just told us who he is, he has shown us. Donald Trump is not only endorsed by the KKK and other white supremacist groups, now he actually endorses them. By appointing Steve Bannon as his chief strategist and senior advisor Donald Trump has shown us in words and action that he supports white nationalism.
If you don’t know who Steve Bannon is then please read this article. If you don’t know what the alt-right movement is that article will help explain. (It is a fancy new name for white nationalism.) We cannot normalize this. We cannot be okay with this. I don’t care who you voted for – if you truly believe that racism, xenophobia, misogyny, etc… is wrong then this should alarm and outrage you.
Our family has known the wrath of the alt-right racism. Two years ago we got on their radar and were the subject of relentless harassment. I spent weeks deleting and weeding through death threats and rape threats. My children and I were called unimaginable things, but their favorite term for me was “race-traitor.” Wednesday morning I woke up to a new wave of harassment from members of the alt-right celebrating Trump’s win and proclaiming that my children would now be deported back to Africa (among other horrific things.)
Please don’t allow yourself to be complacent. Please don’t assume that no one you know actually feels this way. I’ve seen that a lot the past few days too. But it’s amazing what comes out of people you think you know. Like the neighbor who has been nothing but kind and helpful to you but then something in the news causes him to say that black people are “subhuman” (happened to my parents.) Or the family member who is appalled by your adoptions and says you “tainted the family line” (happened to us.) Or the loved one you confided to in High School that you have a crush on a black boy and you think he likes you too only to be told “birds of a feather should flock together” (happened to me.) I could go on and on and on… this is pervasive in our society. Let’s not be so passive as to believe it’s really that rare. It’s not. It’s living in our neighborhoods, sitting around our Thanksgiving tables, worshipping in the pews next to us.
Friends, this matters. My friend Moriah said it best last week in her plea to the Church:
“We have our work cut out for us for the next four years, Church. We voted in someone that has caused others to fear for their lives. If we’re not bigots, racists, misogynists, and hypocrites, then it’s time to get our hands dirty and start proving everyone wrong.”
Please take a stand. Speak up when you hear racism creep into conversations. Speak up when misogynistic jokes are made. Speak up when xenophobic views are touted. Do not sit by and let this continue to permeate through our communities.
And please use your voice to speak up against white supremacy in the White House. Steve Bannon has no place in government and certainly no place anywhere near the White House.
I’ll be calling my representatives today. A former congressional aide has been informing people that emails and letters are not particularly effective. We need to pick up our phones and call.
Here is where you can find contact information for your senators: http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/
Here is where you can find contact information for your congressman or woman: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
And Christians, I’m speaking directly to you here… the Bible says others will know us by our love. (John 13:35) I hope you’ll join me in seeking justice and loving mercy for all people – not just white christians.