Dear White Friends: Stop Saying Everything Is Going To Be Ok
Last night, America made an important decision that has a lot of people feeling emotional today. People are mourning in different ways. One common message I've heard from my white friends is that everything is going to be okay. I know they mean well and that saying this is a way of coping for them, but everything is not okay. Not for everyone, at least.
There's reason every Facebook and Twitter post saying that is sandwiched between five from minorities in abject horror.
For the white liberals who didn't vote to put a racist, misogynist, xenophobic man in the White House, everything will probably be "okay" because it's just a matter of principle to them. (Also, thank you for voting.) But for many minorities, it's not just principles. It's a matter of life and death. White people: I believe you will be okay. I'm happy that you're going to be okay. But I'm tired of hearing you tell me that everything is going to be okay, because the implications of this election are different for you than for everyone else.
I feel for my Black friends, who have to watch as a candidate openly endorsed by the KKK gets sworn into the Oval Office on January 20. I feel for my Hispanic friends, who have to pledge allegiance to a man who called them rapists while on the campaign trail -- and who, by the way, has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women and teenage girls. Not to mention how he bragged that he can just "grab by the pussy." I feel for my Muslim friends. Do I even need to say why?
Pictured: Reason #1352 of why.
I love America, but ours is a country which let the eugenics movement happen and continue even after World War II. We put Japanese-American citizens in concentration camps. We let slavery happen. You have to understand that for many minority groups, especially Black, Hispanic, and Muslim, things are not okay. Before you tell me I don't love America, you should know that I own an American flag tank and two red, white, and blue bikinis, expressly bought in moments of pride. ("Pride" is another word for "drunk.")
We don't even teach about eugenics in school, even though the United States sponsored the compulsory sterilization of 60,000 people nationwide. But in junior year of high school, I lived near Stanford University (the heart of the movement) and I did a LOT of research about it. Why? Because I loved to learn. My access to education is what makes me proud to be American. I'm proud of that. So yes, I love America. I was born here, I studied here, and I work here.
I want to say that I understand your sentiment that everything will be okay. Because it feels the way it does when your team loses a championship -- you're devastated, but you'll be back to cheer them on next year. But this is more than that. Believe me, I was crushed in 2013 when the Niners lost the Superbowl. (If it wasn't for that power outage ...) For the people who say everything is going to be okay, this election feels like a championship loss. The pain and grief are real, but you know the draft is only months away and the new season will bring new hope. For some of us, it's not just watching your team lose a game; it's more like finding out your team lost the game, and then finding out that the game was just a distraction created to keep you occupied while someone broke into your house, kidnapped your family, and burned everything down.
And smiled while doing it.
We are afraid. We are very afraid. We don't want to let fear control us, so we are trying to be strong. But it's very difficult to hear a white person say everything is going to be okay, because we already know it's going to be okay for you. Hearing that conservatives were upset when Obama won the 2008 election is not helpful. In 2008, the (public) fears about Obama's presidency were that he was going to take away guns and that he might be a "Muslim." All these fears were projections, not actual promises Obama made. But last night, we elected a president who has openly campaigned to build a wall around the country. He has encouraged his supporters to use physical violence against minorities. He posted an Anti-Semitic meme featuring Hillary Clinton, and courted the support of white nationalists and the alt-right. This is not the same thing at all.
A lot of kind, liberal, supportive white people are surprised this happened. But if you listen to the Black and Hispanic community, you will find that many of them are not. The upsetting part about last night wasn't that democracy "died." It's that democracy worked. And the results showed that an overwhelming part of America does not want minorities here. This isn't just another cyclical political party swing. It's a loud and resounding message from white people telling minorities that we shouldn't get too comfortable here. So yeah, we're scared. And if you're white, you don't have to be. But please stop telling us that everything is going to be okay, because all signs point to "not okay."
Further Reading: Don't Panic and A Letter to My Wife The Day After The Election.
Required Listening: What The F**k Just Happened You Guys!?.