I can see how Donald Trump appeals to those who have grown tired of being asked to empathize with immigrants, with people of color, with LGBTQ people, with women, with people whom they do not consider "real" Americans. I can see how Donald Trump represents dreams of money and power and freedom.
I wish there were a way to sum it up so that those who voted for Trump might be able to hear me, to be in conversation with me, to empathize with the hurt that so many of us are feeling right now. That will explain the rage that so many of us are feeling right now. I want so badly for that to be possible.
I woke this morning with my composure cracked because the implications of Trump's win have become more clearly articulated in my mind.
- I am the child of refugees. The inherited trauma of what my parents and grandparents and older family members have been through has been triggered in a way that I have never felt before. We have talked at length and often about the difficulties, the terror, of their years in Cambodia during Khmer Rouge rule. I consider how things were in Cambodia before April 17, 1975. How there were those who could see what was coming and fled to the US, France, Australia, before tanks began traveling down the streets. And there were those who perhaps could see it but could not leave, those who had some sense of dread, but could only go about their lives affecting normalcy. I have a suspicion that "normal" changed by slow, small degrees, much as Trump's presidency and cabinet appointments are being normalized now.
And I recognize how I have been grieving and angry but for the most part still living life as normal, going to the ceramics studio, working, cooking, seeing friends. How news fatigue settles in. How this is what many of us are doing. And there is a feeling in the pit of my stomach that hunkering down is not and has never been enough. That perhaps it would help me survive, but that the cost might be higher than I can stand.
- I am an outdoor educator. On expeditions, it is imperative that groups build trust and respect. We emphasize valuing diversity and inclusion, and I work hard to hold my students to high standards in their behavior and language toward one another. Our safety depends on being able to work together and take care of one another.
Trump's win is an affront to everything I've been trying to teach. It tells us divisive, rude, sexist, Islamophobic, and racist behavior will not keep a person from winning the top office in this country. That so many in this country do not hold him to anything near the standards that I have asked of my students.
Many people want to argue in abstract terms, many request not to be lumped in with white nationalists, racists, misogynists, Islamophobes, homophobes. I don't have the energy to provide that kind of reassurance right now. There is fear and dread, there are echoes of horrific histories, and there is an enormous grief.
There is a part of me that still does not believe that Trump's administration will actually take power in January. And I know that I have to fight against that disbelief because what we need now is to strategize against that event.