We have to talk about the election.
One of the first and probably the most interesting conversations I had about the election was with my children. I told them that things *are* better than they were when I was a teenager in the 80s, in the deepest part of the south. I told them several specific instances of racism I observed. I told them that being afraid of a nuclear war was a real thing, especially living next door to the biggest air force base in the world as well the base that was home air force special ops (I grew up knowing we were in the top 5 for the targets Russia would aim at). Mix in the AIDS epidemic and the beginning of the war on drugs, there was plenty of bigotry and fear-mongering to go around.
I shared a couple of music videos with them that I think really captured that feeling.
Then we talked about how things have changed. Being overtly racist is not as accepted as it was when I was a teenager. My son said that’s what the problem is, things have changed and they’ve never seen so much hate on display.
This is what we must cling to.
Our country is more diverse than it was 30 years ago. And, contrary to what you hear about people who voted for Trump, most of them like it that way. How do I know? By talking with my friends and loved ones. Have you talked to your friends and loved ones who voted differently than you did? Have you really tried to hear them out and understand why they voted as they did? If not, you need to get on that.
Have these conversations at dinner, on your front porch, in your backyard, at the hair salon. But have the discussion. Do not let the media convince you that only certain people voted for one or the other candidate. Do not let the media harden you so that you buy into the hateful rhetoric and terms. And y’all, that hate ain’t just coming from the Republicans.
This is critical right now. Even though our country is more diverse and tolerant, there is a faction that wants to oppress everyone of color, every non-Christian, every non-CIS person, even people with disabilities. And Donald Trump is installing the leaders of that faction into the highest, most powerful offices of our nation. They have the ability to change the good that’s been done over the last 50 years, and we may not see the impact of these changes for many years. Things you should be worried about:
- Attorney General: Senator Jeff Sessions, a man whose federal judgeship was denied (by a Republican-held congress) because of his views on the Civil Rights Act and the fact that he (unsuccessfully) prosecuted one of Martin Luther King’s close allies for voter fraud.
- White House National Security Adviser: Mike Flynn, a man who tweeted a video saying that fear of Muslims is rational
- Director of the CIA: Mike Pompeo, a man who thinks encryption is a “red flag” and that Snowden is a traitor.
- Chief Strategist: Steve Bannon ran Breibart News, transforming the paper into the voice of that movement whose goal is to lead our country back to the dark days of oppression. He’s crafty, and will use the media tactics that he despises to normalize hate.
We cannot allow hate to be the guiding principle that governs our nation. I don’t believe the people who voted for him want to see that happen. I know that my friends voted for him because they were just as terrified of the harm Hillary could do as a representative of the elite. The elite have honestly done just as much harm as the alt-right wants to do in part by amassing wealth by eroding the rights of workers, and by continuing to invest in infrastructure for the fossil fuel industry instead of funding and promoting greener forms of energy.
It killed me to vote for her.
Talk to each other. We have to connect on the things we want to see changed. People need jobs. No one in this country should be hungry. No one should be painting swastikas on anything. The cops need to step back from being so militarized. We all need to understand that many of the people crossing our border with Mexico are running away from the war-like conditions that are direct related to the actions of the same oil companies terrorizing Indian country in North Dakota right now. We need our government to get us out of that cycle, and to subsidize tech and infrastructure for clean energy, not the fossil fuel industry.
I think all of us want to see better conditions for everyone, not just those who look and think like us.
This conversation needs to happen right now.
Talk to each other. That’s step one. Step two is to take care of yourself, try hard not to medicate with drugs, alcohol, sex, social media, or whatever your escape of choice is. It’s hard to have a productive conversation with someone with whom you violently disagree if you’re numbing your fear. Feel those feels, and talk to people. Step three is to protect yourself, especially electronically. I’ll write more about that in upcoming posts.
For my tech friends, if you can “out” the marketers that spew vendor FUD, I know you can see the political propaganda (on both sides) for what it is. Analyze it, and then debunk it like you would FUD.
Remember, Dr King was assassinated in Memphis as he fought for sanitation workers’ rights; not just black workers. Malcom X was assassinated as he began to move towards uniting people of all races as well. The powers that be, that many in this election claim to have voted against, do not want people of different races and classes and religions to come together. But here’s the thing: we’ve been on that road for most of my life. We’ve seen real changes in how we treat each other. And there is only a handful of us that want to go back to the dark days of oppression.
For the love of all that is good, take step one. Talk to each other.