Thrive out of Spite

There are so many different threads wrapping around this election that I won’t try to tie them together here, nor all the levels on which I am devastated – over the triumph of hatred, over the loss of a long-awaited female president, over the perpetuation of a system that is built to oppress. All I can bring are my thoughts, although I will do my best to amplify other voices elsewhere. This is as much for myself as it is for anyone out there looking for solidarity. I know I keep refreshing my Twitter feed at work, desperate to stay connected even while life goes on as usual.

After the immediate shock and horror of Tuesday night, I was filled with a sense of defiance. It’s clear, despite any self-preserving arguments to the contrary, that a swath of Americans voted for the dehumanization and oppression of myself and the people I love, of POC, women, disabled people, LGBTQ+ people, immigrants, Muslims…the list goes on. Before election night, I joked with friends about leaving the country. That inclination evaporated as soon as the results became clear.

Because the America that voted for an unqualified racist, misogynistic, and xenophobic demagogue would love it if we all left. That’s the whitewashed vision of America that carried Trump into the White House. But if there’s anything I’ve learned about myself over the years, it’s that when someone tries to intimidate me or tells me what to do, I’m more determined to prove them wrong. Call me a stubborn nasty woman.

This country is the card I was dealt at birth through my parents’ bravery and perseverance, and hell if I’m going to give it up so easily. I’m not going anywhere. If anything, I’m taking up more space than ever before. I’m getting all up in your face with my humanity and strength. Making more art and elevating the voices that others seek to suppress, and no longer supporting institutions that don’t give a shit about the people I love. I won’t lie – this is way outside my comfort zone and I am afraid to hit publish on this post. I’m afraid to make declarations, because I have no faith in absolutes. But I must, because it’s no longer enough to resist quietly. I can’t keep swallowing the rage until some event – a shooting, a verdict, an epithet scrawled across a bathroom stall – brings it roaring back. It can no longer be just about me. Look at everyone who is feeling frustrated and powerless, everyone trying to spread love instead of hate, everyone out there on the streets protesting and fighting to protect our rights.

I’m raring to make noise, in celebration and in defense of the multifaceted America that I am a part of. Even if my voice grows hoarse, we are worth it. My friends and family are worth it. Strangers who suffer in ways I don’t know are worth it. This may all seem overly emotional, but the day to day lives of minorities in this country are and have always been wrought with emotion. You choose not to see it. And we do a good job of living with it. We have been just as competent as our society at normalizing hatred. We’ve swallowed our anger and kept our heads down, absorbed emotional, outrageous circumstances so as not to disturb the waters. Adjusted and adapted to new levels of hate like lobsters in the pot. I like jacuzzis as much as the next person, but I’m done. There is a vibrant community of people out there who reject the reality they were born into. I’m standing with them.

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