In 1958, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in his book Stride Toward Freedom, “To accept passively an unjust system is to cooperate with that system; thereby the oppressed become as evil as the oppressor. Noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good.”
These are the words that will give me solace in the coming days. This solace stems from knowing I will not cooperate with my oppressors. So who are those oppressors, you might ask? They are the minuscule majority (as Hillary Rodham Clinton won the popular vote, but lost the electoral vote–shades of 2000 hang like a pall over the United States today) that voted to harden the lines that divide us rather than fight to unite us.
You might say, “Hang on a second. Hillary would have been equally divisive.” And you would be right to a degree. We would have had years of continued obstruction, congressional hearings, and lack of cooperation between the executive and legislative branches. The American people would have continued to hate on each other. But at least the goal of the Chief Executive would have been to serve ALL AMERICANS and not just those that supported her. Her message of #strongertogether shows where the candidate would have carried her optimism into her policies. Stronger together is not the message of the president-elect or his followers.
My oppressors are relishing their victory as they plan to enact their own vision of America despite the rest of us rather than build a united vision in which we can ALL move forward together as AMERICANS. My oppressors are those who littered my social media this morning to call me a “libtard,” or “...liberal whining ass bitch…” who better “…get ready America is about to be free once again no longer will our freedom speech he threatened no longer will the right to bear arms be threatened America will be free again no longer will citizens like me fear for our rights getting taken away by angry liberals that have been voted in to power by the ignorant and blind.”
I’ll try not to let my “elitist liberal” snarkiness comment on the horrific grammar and mechanics of my social media “friends” because I am the “ignorant and blind” one. And I will try to laugh and think that being called an “angry liberal” is like being called an angry elf. Only it’s not.
These are real comments from people who proclaim to be my friends attacking my beliefs and who I am–unprovoked by any comment from me regarding the election. I moved my Provocative Posts of the Day (I started clearly labeling political posts long ago) to a group rather than my home page for the last months of the election.I purposely set out this election cycle to post as little as possible because my posts did little more earn eye rolls and nasty comments from many of my hometown peeps. I grew up in a very conservative state. I moved from said state 20 years ago–partially to find a place where I would not feel like an outsider at every turn. I was lucky enough to land in a beach city suburb of Los Angeles plopping straight into a richly diverse melting pot. I’m lucky enough to teach in a school where over 20 languages are spoken. My view of the world has grown tremendously in my 20 years in L.A. I credit my students with much of that growth.
Today I listened to them. I usually don’t refer to my students by their race or ethnicity or nationality because I view them all equal to me and I don’t define them by the color of skin, but by the content of their character. But today I knew that they felt their demographic information defined them–who they are, what they believe, what they experience in life. So I listened. One Black boy lamented that he always felt fear for his safety when he crossed state lines into red states. One Latina spoke of feeling segregated when she lived in another state. One Japanese girl spoke of visiting her family in a red state only to have them refuse to shake her hand or allow her to hold their baby because of her race. One Black girl spoke of feeling invisible because she is both black and female. Another Black girl related a time when she had to stop and fuel her car in Houston, TX, and feeling fearful because of how the white patrons watched her so closely. One Latino said he fears members of his family being deported and that he might have to go with them even though he is an American citizen. All of these students were born in the United States. All are citizens just as much as any rural white voter. Yet today, they felt bewildered and second class and not part of the America’s future.
So when my friends ask me when I’m moving back to my conservative birth state, my answer is, “I’m not. Remember I’m too angry and elitist and whiny and bitchy for you all.”
I will not acquiesce and say that their toxic and divisive words are okay. Nor will I stand by and do nothing as DJT vows to strip my family members with Type I diabetes and ovarian cancer of their health care on his first day in office. Nor will I stand by when he writes blank checks to wall builders and military generals to misspend our treasure. Nor will I stand by when he starts a trade war with our North American partners by nullifying a standing trade deal on day one.
Don’t get me wrong. I want health care reform. I want immigration reform. I want trade deals to be renegotiated. What I don’t want is a bully who takes away from his people rather than bring forward ideas to help them, ALL of them. I don’t want someone who strikes fear in my students while proclaiming to be their leader when he won’t even acknowledge their perspective without demeaning it.
I know that practicing Dr. King’s recommended nonviolent resistance will not always win the day, but it will organize and educate people and build bridges where there were none before. I understand what conservatives want. I accept that they have the power to make it so. But I will work against rhetoric and action that demeans and strips rights from large swaths of our population and undermines the integrity of the constitution.
And I pray we don’t end up with more unpaid-for trillion dollar wars and the rich raiding tax coffers and cutting regulations at the expense of our working people leading to another recession. Let’s hope there is more to this man than mean-spirited bluster that fuels the deepening divisions in our country. Our country will survive, but it will be altered. For DJT to push forward with a radical overturn of the past 8 years in the first days in office when he lost the popular vote smacks of serving only his supporters and of those who didn’t support him not being worthy of respect or being listened to. I continue to hope he will not govern the way he speaks. Yet I continue to be pessimistic.
So today I mourn. Tomorrow I move on. To advocate. To act. To problem solve. That is my nature, and that is how we as country will survive.
In the wise words of Maya Angelou…
You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? ‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells Pumping in my living room. Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise. Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries? Does my haughtiness offend you? Don’t you take it awful hard ‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines Diggin’ in my own backyard. You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise. Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I’ve got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.
Or the cliched, yet heartfelt message of Katy Perry’s “Rise.”
P.S. DJT and president-elect will not be used together until he chooses to be a president for ALL AMERICANS. Then I might use his name instead of his initials. Then I might afford him the title and respect of the office. Till then, he is like Voldemort and shall not be named. I will not acquiesce. Still I rise.