Those I saw who predicted this election outcome the earliest and most clearly are those who study history and hate. The civil rights movement, the women’s movement, the gay rights movement — there’s always been “conservative” backlash to social progress in the US. A Black president? Same-sex marriage? Americans will once again get to learn from the forgotten history they’re repeating.
People of colour always knew that this is what America looks like. So did Muslims, Jews, women, and others. (White, Christian women apparently decided they were somehow different.) If you’re still not clear, if you’re still shocked, it’s never been laid out for you in more clear primary colours. Charts, graphs, it’s all there.
When those previous movements happened, though, straight, white, Christian men still had their traditional privilege and supremacy. In the workforce, at home, in society. The cracks had started by the 70s, though. And now these demographics are decades older and more scared. They can’t provide the way they once did, they aren’t respected like they once were.
And a world that doesn’t look like them or agree with them or believe in them is leaving them behind. But there are still millions of them, and they have lashed out. You can’t point to or blame one group. This wasn’t solely about race or gender or socioeconomics. Though it was each and all of those things. It took a whole lot of people buying into very scary messages to make this happen.
But millennials and those younger didn’t make this happen. The majority of people of colour didn’t make this happen. And the Baby Boomers are senior citizens now. The backlash is small, comparatively, though it is going to have some ugly consequences well beyond one term in office.
What will come from children who have been terrified that their families could be torn apart and their parents or grandparents deported? What will come from those who are not part of the ever-shrinking white “Christian” minority? What will come from women who don’t accept that any or every man could or should get to act like their creepy uncle? What will come will not be comparatively small.
But it also won’t happen tomorrow. America now has four years to see what damage will be done. Those who clung to blatant lies will learn to their too-sad-for-irony dismay just how big and voluminous the lies were. And that they are not getting their privilege and supremacy back.
Today, 300+ million people get to look their neighbours and co-workers in the eye. And have awful conversations with their children.
So you voted and were active online and that didn’t work this time. For those who aren’t happy about this result, you’re not done. Your family needs you. Your communities need you. Your country needs you, whether it realizes it or not. And it needs you in person. Not just Facebook statuses or tweets or what have you.
It needs money and time and bodies to volunteer. It needs protection and protest and lobbying. If you hate what this presidency stands for, get out and fight it. If you’re not sure how, there are plenty of people already doing the work. Look to them. Women fighting for their reproductive rights. Indigenous people fighting for their land and environmental rights. Black people fighting for their right to live.
It needs friendship and learning and love and abandoning comfort zones.
Be careful how you use your anger, though. Misdirected anger is a good part of how this mess happened in the first place. Loving thy neighbour isn’t always easy. But little about getting through this will be. Because America has shown itself and the lid can’t go back on that box. And you can’t just move to Canada.
Now no one can claim they don’t know it’s broke. Back when Obama and Clinton ran against each other for the Democratic nomination, there was the question, almost bitterly joking, of whether the US was more sexist or more racist. Now you know.
I woke up this morning thinking, “What have you done?”
But it’s done. The question now and tomorrow is: What will you do?