Social Issues

the day after tomorrow

I spent last night deliberately avoiding the election results because I knew I wouldn’t be able to handle it. Instead I spent the evening watching Suffragette and season six of The Good Wife. Both Handsome and I had a terrible sense of foreboding watching the story of women fighting and dying for the right to vote. I had high hopes that watching Suffragette would be prophetic, a good omen on the eve of electing our first woman President, that my hope could stave off the fear and dread I felt.

My hopes and dreams did not come true last night. I woke to a dark and terrible world, one filled with uncertainty. There’s no way to tell what the next four years could bring, and I am afraid.

I am afraid for myself. The county I live in is deeply conservative, racist, segregated, misogynistic, and homophobic. It’s almost as bad the town I grew up in– and that town elected the local Ku Klux Klan’s Grand Giant as mayor until the 90s. I’m afraid that I could be attacked for who I am. I’m afraid that the people who hate me will be emboldened, that someone will attempt the unthinkable if I and my queer friends go to an LGBT bar this weekend.

I am concerned about my future health. Right now the main treatment for my endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome is covered by my insurance, but that’s only true because of the Affordable Care Act, which seems likely to disappear next year. What happens then? I don’t know, and I’m afraid.

But mostly I’m not afraid for myself. If Trump keeps his promises– and there’s no way to tell if he will– I’m afraid for the thousands upon thousands of people whose lives could be destroyed because of his policies and the actions of his followers. I have latinx friends– will their families be ripped apart in a mass deportation? I have Syrian friends who still have family there– will they ever see them again? Native Americans are already facing militaristically-equipped police in Standing Rock– are we going to see another Wounded Knee in the coming months? All my disabled friends who depend on the ACA– are they going to die because they can’t afford to pay for their healthcare? Will we actually withdraw from NATO and send the world into chaos? Will our President continue to use an antagonistic nation’s cyberattacks on his political opponents? How many women will die if Roe v. Wade is overturned? Will all the women with my common medical condition end up in prison because we miscarried and even “spontaneous abortions” (the medical term for miscarriage) become suspect? Is the freedom of the press, the freedom to peaceably assemble, under threat of evaporating?

Outside of policy– foreign and domestic–  I’m afraid burning crosses are going to become commonplace again. I’m afraid that the constant barrage of assault and harassment women already face on a daily basis will worsen. I’m afraid that attacks on my LGBT family are going to rise. I’m desperately afraid for my Muslim friends and for their families. I’m afraid for my latinx friends and how the suspicion and mistrust they already encounter could escalate into something far more terrifying.

I’m afraid, and I’m hurting.

***

But.

But.

We have faced all these things before, and we fought.

We have been tortured, and we spat in their faces.

We have been murdered, and we used our grief to drive our fury.

We have been denied the right to vote, and we endured beatings to get it.

We have died of ravaging diseases while a bigoted nation ignored us, and we searched until we were well again.

We’ve been here before. None of this is new to any of us. People of color are brutalized and slaughtered every day, while a black President watched and was helpless to stop it. The Supreme Court said I could marry whoever I wanted, but that didn’t affect the one-hundred-plus rights LGBT people still don’t have that straight people do. Roe v. Wade is still law, but that hasn’t stopped TRAP laws from encroaching on my autonomy or “religious freedom” letting women suffer or die in Catholic hospitals.

We had a long road ahead of us already. It just got longer and rougher.

Today and tomorrow we grieve. We let ourselves experience the full breadth of the horror we’re facing. An excruciating light is burning in our eyes and souls, illuminating the putrescence buried in the core of our nation and our people. The pain can take our breath away today; we have to deal with the reality of the gauntlet that hatred threw down at our feet last night. Today we hold ourselves and each other. We’ll find each other in the aftermath, we’ll search the battlefield for survivors. When we can’t walk anymore, we’ll find someone to carry us home.

And then we’ll fight, like we always have and always will.

Photo by Tim Sackton
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  • Madeline Ghosta

    I didn’t even consider the miscarriage situation. That is truly terrifying, on top of everything else. Thank you for sharing your hope and your positive outlook. We will continue to fight!

    • This has happened in a number of Latin American countries(being strongly Catholic, they tend to have strict abortion laws).

      • Madeline Ghosta

        Oh man, I feel so ignorant about this. Thanks for bringing this up, I’ll be researching this. So sad.

  • I have read a lot (and I mean a lot) of articles today, after crying for hours last night. I’d been able to hold it together today, until I read this post. Thank you for these beautiful words. We’ll keep fighting.

  • Beroli

    Yes. Yes we will.

  • I’m not sure if I have any fight left. I’m just scared and hopeless right now. Maybe someday I’ll find the strength to regroup and fight on, but right now all I want to do is crawl in a hole and not come out for four years.

    • I feel you. I’m incredibly frightened, and the only thing I have the energy for today is despair. I just have to force myself to recognize that while what’s happened is horrific, it doesn’t change the fact that we were going to have to fight for LGBT rights and against police brutality and against TRAP laws under Clinton, too. It just got unbelievably harder.

  • Kathleen Margaret Schwab

    I’m afraid I was in denial. I watched Trump’s public speeches, and thought there was no way he could be electable. I really didn’t. I’m in a bit of a fog. I can’t believe there would actually be mass deportations, or that women could be arrested for miscarriages, but I thought Hillary Clinton would win by a landslide.

    • Lucy

      He should not have been electable. Hillary won the popular vote, and if that was what counted, or at least if there had been no gerrymandering, Hillary might have had a chance. As it is, I think they should get rid of the electoral college – realistically, it cannot equalize everything anyway unless you were to divide the electors based on various minority groups, and since that is unworkable, the electoral college needs to go. Period.

      • Beroli

        Unfortunately, we’ll never get Republican cooperation on that, any more than we will on undoing gerrymandering.

        I feel stupid for being as confident Trump couldn’t win as I was. If Jeb Bush had won the nomination, I would have said “we need to resign ourselves to a Republican president probably for the next eight years.” I just…didn’t think the usual Presidential trends would apply with a candidate as extreme and overt as Trump. I guess I should have taken the “he’s despicable…but vote for him!” thing Republican politicians were doing as a lot more representative of the average Republican voter than I did.

        I can’t even say I wish Scalia had died at a different time; there were months in which Obama should have been able to appoint a replacement for him. The Republicans demonstrated that they’re through with pretending to have any interest in democracy if it doesn’t lead to their preferred outcome; I can only hope the Democrats in government took notice.

  • KellyLynne

    Thank you for this. I’m scared and grieving too, but I’m also ready to fight.

  • Faye Griffins

    I just spent two hours on the phone with my friend in California. She, her husband, and their families are Latinx and she is angry and terrified about what might happen, even though they are all citizens. We went through grad school together in central Illinois and she is the only person in her family to have experienced racism as a result of living in the midwest. She knows firsthand what can happen when racism and xenophobia are considered normal social behavior. My heart breaks for them and the fear that will not go away with the morning sun. I will fight for her and everyone else but I hate how much harder this got and how close it was in the end.

  • A number of people say they plan on leaving the country. If anyone here does, I recommend the site Transitions Abroad, which gives tips on moving to various countries.

    Also, here’s a link on the top places to go to university for a good price: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/student/news/cheapest-places-study-top-university

  • Chuck Geer

    As with most everyone else here, I am terrified at the prospect of a Trump presidency. I think we are going to see lots of burning crosses again. Syrian refugees have every reason to be afraid.

    I am terrified as to whom Trump is going to appoint to be our Surgeon General. At the first of Trump’s candidacy, he was talking about appointing Michael Savage to be surgeon General. Now, do I think that’s actually going to happen?! No, but I didn’t think Trump would be elected either. It does concern me that he would appoint someone of similar mindset. Savage has gone on record as saying that there is no such thing as fibromyalgia and that the best thing that can be done for those with autism issues is physical violence.

    We’ve got to fight him as much as is possible…

  • Ysolde

    I agree we must fight. It is a dark turn that the road has taken, but we must continue on in the face of it. There is a light in the distance and we must work towards it together.