Like most people I know, I went to bed last night and woke up this morning sick and frightened. There have been many political candidates I disagreed with and even believed destructive over the years, but this is not that. I woke up to discover that I’d been crying in my sleep, something that has happened only a few times in my life and not for many years.
I don’t know what I’m supposed to do next, or how I’m supposed to interact with the people around me. My concern isn’t just the chaos and violence that is surely right around the corner, but also this horrible thing I have learned about the people I encounter in daily life.
But, I am a white professional. If I choose to, I can simply shut up and I will be safe and accepted among the people who voted to microchip you, deport you, bar you from an entire country based on the color of your skin or where you were born or the religion you practice.
I know my fear and uncertainty can’t possibly scratch the surface of yours.
I also know I can’t eliminate your fear and uncertainty. It’s well-founded. It may keep you alive. But, I do want to say two things that I hope you will hear and believe in.
The first is that you are not alone. For every person standing behind you in the grocery line who believes that Donald Trump said what we were all thinking, there is at least one who clearly sees that you’re a valuable human being who, in the most fundamental ways, is just like us. There are millions of people of all races and religions and ages and educational levels and shoe sizes who are prepared to fight for you.
The second is please, please don’t lash out. I understand the inclination, if you’re experiencing it. I think I might want to smash some things myself, if I didn’t feel so completely depleted. You will undoubtedly be provoked in a thousand ways in the days to come. But, those who provoke you know exactly what they’re doing. They want you arrested. They want viral videos that are edited to cut out the provocation and show only your angry response. They know there are millions of people in the neutral zone right now who can be turned against you.
Don’t let them frame the discussion. Don’t let them manipulate you into becoming the poster child for their campaign to amp up the hate, to mischaracterize everyone whose skin color matches yours or who wears the same type of clothing you do.
Watch your back, but do it with your head held high, and never forget that no matter how it looks right now, there are more of us than there are of them.