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If you love me but voted for Trump here’s something you should know

If you love me but voted for Trump here’s something you should know

If you love me but voted for Trump, here’s something you should know:

When I was a little girl, this is what I knew about myself: my brown skin was a life sentence; an inescapable confinement that guaranteed I would always be an outsider, inferior to the white people with whom I shared my world. My brown skin was shameful, something to be hidden. My parents’ union, I was told, was disgusting and ungodly, which meant I was that way, too. So I became the things I believed I should be: scared, ashamed, desperate, a liar. I wanted to be blonde. Light skinned like my classmates. Anything but what I was. I did not know how to be myself. I did not know how to ask for the things I needed, which didn’t really matter much because I didn’t believe I was deserving of them anyway.

Maybe you were my friend in childhood. Maybe you sat next to me in the cafeteria and became my seesaw partner on the playground. Maybe you had me over for sleepovers and we played Barbies and giggled together late into the night. Maybe you even made me feel safe and loved. But I must confess to you now, when I was a child, l could only feel safe and loved when you didn’t see the whole of me, when you allowed me to forget I was brown.

It took me a long time to realize those childhood truths were actually fallacies. It took me even longer to create new truths for myself. Longer, still, to be proud to claim all the parts of me, to feel like it was not only OK for me to be seen, it was necessary.

 

If you love me but voted for Trump, here’s something you should know:

My fears have come to pass. The unthinkable has become reality. The paranoia has set in, already I feel unsafe. It took less than two days. In less than two days I came to realize I am once again uncertain as to where or how I fit into the world. The endless stream of hate has started: reports of swastikas spray-painted in neighborhoods, people of color being told to go back where they came from, women being grabbed by their pussies (that’s the preferred word now), brown children being taunted in their classrooms, and all of these things done in the name of the person you convinced yourself was fit for the role of president.

I can hear some of you saying those stories are exaggerated, and perhaps some are, and perhaps they aren’t, that really doesn’t matter. What matters is the rumbling undercurrent of putridity has finally surfaced. I have been holding on for over a year, listening to your leader tell me how unworthy I am, how my very existence has destroyed something great within this country, that I need to be put back in my place both figuratively and literally. I naively convinced myself I shouldn’t worry too much, that together we would all come to our senses and not give power to hate.

You may read this and think I am being melodramatic. In your mind, you figured out how to make his words OK before you stepped into the voting booth. But for me, the words will never be OK. My racial identity puts me within the group of the oppressed, but it is my humanity that makes me an ally and reminds me I am not separate from anyone. I am the Jew who has discovered anti-Semitic graffiti in the community where I once felt safe. I am the woman wearing the Hijab that someone is threatening to hang me with. I am the six-year-old Mexican-American boy who is terrified that my family will be sent away. I am the elderly black woman who is despondent and hopeless in her knowledge that the KKK is about to march boldly through her streets again. I am the transgender woman who is scared to use the bathroom, and the gay man who is listening to strangers call me “faggot.”

I am a little girl, fearfully weeping, “Do they see me? Do they see I am brown?”

These stories are my stories. And they are your stories, too, but in your quest for self-preservation you have forgotten this.

 

If you love me but voted for Trump, here’s something you should know:

I want to believe you when you tell me you are not racist. I want to believe that your affection for me is genuine and pure. Right now, though, I feel suspicious and uncertain, coming to terms with the fact that maybe you did not accept my brownness, but merely overlooked it.

I understand that for you, this was about outcomes; that you yourself have been afraid and uncertain, not knowing what to make of the changes happening in our country. I understand when you cast your vote you believed you were doing what was best. You may have even told yourself you weren’t happy about supporting him but felt you had no other choice. Of course, votes cannot be undone and so now you must bear some of the responsibility for what is happening and what will happen in the future.

If I am to believe you are not the things you fear being called (racist, homophobic, misogynistic, etc.) then your complacency must stop. I need to hear you speak out against the hateful rhetoric. Make a phone call to your representatives and ask them how they are going to stop the harassment of marginalized groups. Write the man you elected and tell him to denounce the vile acts that are being committed in his name. Show me I can trust you. Show me you have my back. Show me who you are.

When you stay silent I can hear you loudest.

Writing: My Small Act

Writing: My Small Act

Dallas broke me. I wanted to write about it when it happened. I tried to write about it, but each time I sat at my keyboard, I froze. Dallas is the city where I was born, the city where I spent my weekends as a teenager, and the city I returned to a few years after my mom died because I felt confused and lost and needed to be somewhere that felt like home. I thought it would be easy for me to write about this place that is so dear to my heart, but I couldn’t; I could never figure out what to say.

When Dallas police were being targeted, I watched the chaotic reporting on TV, while reading first-hand accounts on Facebook from friends who were caught in the midst of it. I suddenly began to feel the same way I did in April of 2013, when the city I now call home was under attack. I remember it well, how I tried not to cry when my daughter came inside to excitedly share how many helicopters she had seen flying overhead, and how I had to tell her the truth: there had been an explosion at the finish line. I remembered, too, how I couldn’t hear sirens for weeks, maybe even months, without being reminded of that day when we were told to stay inside because we were not safe.

This repetition of tragedies paralyzes me. It fills me with the worst combination of dread and fatigue, a pairing that causes me to shut down almost completely. This repetition of tragedies reinforces my belief that sometimes knowing what’s coming is much worse than not knowing. For the past few weeks, I have been stuck in this place of deep sadness, feeling helpless, and trying, in equal parts, to care and not care.

If I’m being completely honest, it’s not just the events of the world that have led me to this place. Personally speaking, July seems to be cursed. July is the month that marks the anniversary of my mom’s death, and the same month when, one year ago, my marriage came to an end. This past July brought an abrupt and unexpected end to a friendship, and also revealed the fact that my daughter, who seems perfectly fine on the outside, is still having a really difficult time dealing with the divorce. And that is to say nothing of the overwhelming bouts of loneliness I have been experiencing. These are not huge problems, I know.  They are my problems, though, and trying to make peace with them while also trying to accept the fact that I’m stuck in an unjust world feels like a huge task.

I’ve been feeling so hopeless I thought maybe I should give up this blog and give up writing altogether. What difference does it make if I write? Who cares what I have to say? I don’t really seem to be able to stop, though. Whether that’s a sign that I am a “real writer” or not, I can’t say. I just know writing is the only way I have of making sense of anything, whether the words come easily or not.

I keep thinking of the Sunday after we learned about Dallas and Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. I went to church that morning because I needed to be somewhere I felt safe and welcome, and I wanted to be with people who are committed to ending racism and violence. During that morning’s service, I listened, with tears streaming down my face, as our minister read comments from a video she posted online of people in our neighborhood participating in a Black Lives Matter vigil. That simple, short video had an effect on people. I had forgotten that seemingly small acts can impact people in big ways, and this is what I keep returning to when I think about whether I want to keep writing this blog or not.

It’s not that I necessarily believe my words are powerful, influential, or even all that good. But it’s something I can do, and I think there are times when the things I say resonate with others. Quite possibly, this blog, although not significant by any measure, is my own small act, affecting people in ways I may never be aware of. With that in mind, I have no choice to keep at it. I’m a lazy blogger, to be sure, and that’s not likely to change. Continue, I will, though, and I thank you for reading.

Orlando

Orlando

I’m not intentionally staying silent, it’s just that I don’t have the words.

I don’t have the words for the guilt I feel over allowing myself to become desensitized to this kind of news, and how when I first heard it was 20 people I thought, “My God, that’s terrible,” before going about my normal routine.

I don’t have the words to express how foolish and embarrassed I feel that for some reason when the number became 49, that made me cry, like there is a certain number of lives that have to be taken before my grief really kicks in.

I don’t have the words for the shame I feel for being so blinded by my own privilege it took me a moment to understand the significance of the murderer targeting GLBTQs. (I am heterosexual and don’t have to think about these things.)

I don’t have the words to describe why I can’t go to one more vigil or rally or protest because they don’t inspire me and make me feel connected anymore; they make me feel tired and hopeless.

I don’t have the words for the level of disgust I feel over the hypocrisy from people who call themselves “prolife” yet won’t even do so much as engage in a conversation about gun control measures.

I don’t have the words to explain how entirely unfair it is that we are once again asking Muslims to prove themselves worthy of their right to be here, which is something we never ask of white men when they kill.

I don’t have the words to describe how I feel so defeated I have given up thinking anything will change. If the slaughter of 6 and 7-year-olds does nothing, how am I supposed to believe we will somehow care more when it happens to brown-skinned gays?

I don’t have the words to express the level of rage I felt when I saw a friend share an anti-Muslim opinion piece on her Facebook page, along with her own words: “Do not let the media and Liberals distract you with the fact that a gun was used, or of the sexual orientation of the target,” as if the facts don’t matter, as if it’s better to create our own narrative so we don’t have to admit the truth about the kind of people we have become.

I don’t have the words to say how relieved I am that my loved ones are safe, how this could have easily happened to one of them. It could have been me, even, as there was a time, in my younger days, when I spent my weekends in gay clubs because they were welcoming and made me feel safe.

I don’t have the words for the despair and anxiety I feel because I know it is only a matter of time before the next massacre comes.

I don’t have the words to tell the GLBTQ people in my life how much I love them, never in spite of how they identify, but because they are entirely glorious just as they are.

I don’t have the words to express how much desperation was behind my need to take my daughter in my arms last night and, through tears, tell her she will never have to hide who she is from me.

 

 

 

I’m not intentionally staying silent, it’s just that I don’t have the words.