By Macy Wilson
Over the past month, my emotions about the election have fluctuated greatly. Initially, I was most affected by an overwhelming sense of grief that was compounded by feelings of fear, betrayal, and anger. As the weeks have passed, what remains is anger, disgust, fear, and simultaneous motivation.
The notion of a president who disrespects women, minorities, those who are mentally unstable or physically disabled, Muslims, LGBTQ folks, and immigrants (to name a few) is incredibly disheartening and frightening. A man with this mentality who condones violence for the sake of his name is not a man whom I can respect. As someone who identifies as a biracial (Black and Chicana), queer, cisgender, Christian woman, I can’t help but feel that he does not/will not respect me or have my best interests at heart. When thinking about the people I know who voted for this man, I also wondered if they respected me and had my best interests at heart. I currently work at a juvenile correctional facility as a therapist, and on the day after the election, I called in because I knew that I could not be emotionally present and supportive for my clients who were experiencing similar fears and reactions as me. There have been moments when I questioned my faith as a Christian because I believed that the compassionate God I serve would not allow a man with such horrific values to lead God’s children. I’ve experienced moments of angst that were only partially-resolved through lamenting about this cruel reality. This election has truly been a lesson in self-care and reaching out, because I know it is not possible to effectively show up for others when I’m personally experiencing so much distress.
Now that some time has passed, the distress I continue to feel is primarily for others. I know that I am affected by the results of this election – hurt by those who claim to be anti-racist, LGBTQ-affirming, equality-supporting individuals, but whose votes said otherwise. I am still fearful at times of hidden motives that may be rooted in racism, sexism, and homophobia. But I recognize that, amid all of the marginalization, I still have privilege and can actively work to challenge these systems of oppression. That is where the motivation comes in. In the days following the election, I asked myself, “Where do I go from here?” For weeks, I was dormant, hopeless, and unproductively angry. I am someone who takes pride in my independence, so reaching out for support during those times was difficult but, ultimately, necessary.
It is impossible to do this challenging work alone; during the most trying times, we need each other profoundly. How can we care for ourselves to ensure mental, emotional, and physical well-being? How can we, then, show up to support and advocate for ourselves and others? In what ways are we privileged? Our privilege must be analyzed and deconstructed before we can move forward and utilize it for the greater good. In turn, how can we utilize our privilege to support and validate the struggles of our communities? What changes do we want/need to see? What steps can we take to see those changes come to fruition?
These are the questions that need to be answered by us as individuals, but also in open dialogue with others. We need to hear and truly understand various perspectives so that we are equipped with strategies to help us move forward. Asking ourselves these difficult questions is important, but is not as effective as sharing our thoughts with others. We need to practice reaching out, especially when it’s uncomfortable, so that our voices are not silenced. To a man of these aforementioned values and beliefs, our very existence threatens his “great” America, and he has already spoken about his desire to silence our protests. We cannot allow him to put his pride before our rights. My hope is that we will continue to learn better ways of reaching out and supporting each other, utilizing our anger productively, and standing strong against adversity. We shall overcome; Si se puede.