But I want to talk about the election. More saliently, I want to talk about the aftershocks that are still sweeping across the country. I know that up until this point, everything I’ve posted has been of a lighter tone and concept (read: vacuous), and has definitely been apolitical. I, however, am not apolitical, and I think that it does more harm than good in this situation *not* to talk about what’s happening. Also, it’s my blog, and I get to do what I want.
Yesterday, a well-meaning relative of mine sent a series of post-election articles to me and several other family members. Most of these weren’t groundbreaking and several of them I had already read on FaceBook a day or two earlier when I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the news cycle. But one of these articles really nagged at me. I read through it once and almost immediately curdled, though I couldn’t place my finger on why. So I read through it again once or twice more. The article was actually an article-about-an-article -- what I read was a Daily Kos article by Leslie Salzillo about a Washington Post Op-Ed written by Garrison Keillor, both of which I’ve linked.
The article and the op-ed both upset me pretty immediately. If you’re reading through either or both right now, you may be wondering why because they seem innocuous and optimistic in their intent. And that may be true. Nevertheless, I found the gross privilege in both to be a little too much to bear with the wounds of the election still so fresh.
I know that no harm was meant by either of these articles, but reading Keillor talk about how liberals are “in the clear” and can just let the Republicans “deal with him [Drumpf]” for the next four years felt so out of touch. He writes that now, “liberal elitists” can sit back at a distance “raising heirloom tomatoes” or “traveling the country” or “tasting artisan beers”, as though liberals could wash their hands of the whole ordeal and exempt themselves from four years of living under someone ill-equipped at best and a bigoted fascist at worst.
Keillor’s style tends to be quite tongue-in-cheek, I know. And I realize that he is playing on stereotypes of both sides, and evoking a sense of nostalgia that is meant to be comforting. But while Salzillo says that reading Keillor’s words gives her “a gush of hope”, all I can think is that where Keillor addresses “liberal elitists”, I think he must have meant *white* liberal elitists. In all honesty, this glimmering Elysian Field of Jane Austen novels, meditation, and artisan beers may very well be the reality for many elite white liberals for the next four years. And those people are incredibly lucky and privileged (for context: I am biracial and experience the world as a person of color, but half of my family is white, if well-meaning). But humorous and playful or not, this article just screams insensitivity at me.
This picture of nostalgia or of a cushy, detached future is accessible to a limited few, and it seems to forget that within just 72 hours the number of hate crimes, often violent and deadly hate crimes, in the name of the president-elect has been staggering. It seems to forget and exclude the massive amounts of people who have already, and who will continue for the foreseeable future, to have their lives profoundly and violently impacted by the results of the election.
I include myself in this group. Just one day after the election, a pair of white male students from a neighboring college decided to drive around my campus (Hillary’s Alma Mater), flying a Drumpf flag from their truck, shouting slurs at students of color and spitting in one student’s face. My own campus, normally so inclusive, even insulated, was not even immune to the vulgar hatred spurred on by this vile election season: the women and women of color on my campus were degraded for daring to EXIST and to BE VISIBLE in their own space.
And this is just one story. I’ve had friends telling me of similar, and often more violent, incidents on their campuses and in their own cities across the country, beginning mere minutes after the election results were called, up until this very day. The last few days have been a very raw, very traumatic, and very painful time for a lot of people. While I understand the value of levity and optimism, particularly during a dark time, I think that the idea of brushing this election off as though it is as meaningless and harmless as dust, and receding to a life of heirloom tomatoes and artisan beers is very insensitive.
You may think that this is an overreaction, and that is your prerogative. But, when the last 72 hours of my life have left me feeling like someone had died, constantly crying on and off (and I’m talking big heaving sobs crying) as I fear what’s to come, when they have been filled by conversations with all of my friends about the utter shock and grief we’ve been slapped with upon finding out that half of the country either genuinely *hates* us, or just doesn’t fucking care enough about us to deem us human, or about how none of us feel safe or wanted in our own country anymore, then to read about the elite white liberal bubble of heirloom tomatoes is pretty upsetting.
It still may seem overwrought to some of you, or melodramatic. I understand. But, for me and for many of the people surrounding me, our worst fears are currently being realized, and our personal safety is on the line. So, if you read the articles above, and they gave you a “gush of hope”, as they did Salzillo, then I’m glad you’ve found peace and optimism at the end of the world as we know it. I only implore you not to forget that life exists outside of the shimmering white liberal bubble -- it is a troubling and scary world right now, but it is also paramount that you pop the bubble from the inside because that bubble, that echo chamber, is partly what brought us here in the first place.
If you’ve stuck with me long enough to read this sentence, then you get a gold star. As always, I’m happy to have a meaningful dialog with any and all of you, I just ask that if you have nothing constructive to add, please censor yourself -- it’s been a rough week.