It is not my job to make bigots feel comfortable.

I have spent the last 24 hours thinking a lot about words.

In a moment of exhaustion and despair last night, I wrote this on my Facebook page: “If you voted for Trump, unfriend me now. And fuck you.”

I regretted posting that – it was the wrong thing to say – and changed it after a couple friends spoke reason to me. I also had a few Trump-supporting friends express shock and outrage that I would say such a thing.

People who voted for Donald Trump were offended.

Really.

 

I am tired, and I am mad.

I’ve spent so much time in the last year having the quiet, calm, reasonable conversations with people. Sending links to articles and videos, citing sources, finding neutral fact-check sources, explaining the realities of refugee intake, Planned Parenthood funding, abortion, immigration, economic analyses, gun laws, climate change, and then that Rick Astley music video just to lighten the mood.

I had so many of these conversations I eventually captured the facts most Trump supporters tried to argue about on a two-page document – even citing the nonpartisan resources – and would give it to people.

None of it mattered. No matter how renowned the source, it was biased. If it was Trump’s own words, he didn’t mean it. Documented facts weren’t to be trusted. Around and around, always landing in the same place: some variation on the response, “I know what I know.”

It was September, I think, when I stopped trying so hard. Because by then I’d learned it wouldn’t make a difference.

And by then it was obvious that NONE of those things were what the Trump movement was about.

 

Trumpism is based in bigotry. Plain and simple.

We were all so frustrated. After every debate, saying to each other: “Why can’t this election be about the issues?” Listening to Trump supporters dial into NPR, thinking: “Why is this what we’re talking about?”

What we didn’t understand was that Trump and his supporters were talking about the issues – their issues. Their issues and our issues, it turns out, are not the same.

We kind of knew, right? Last December Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown on Muslims entering the United States” (a policy proposal that remained, in that same form, on his website until this afternoon). It was his first widely-publicized foray from dog whistling into overt racism. But we thought it was just a preoccupation.

It’s not.

It’s the whole show. We know that now.

 

There is a difference between enthusiastic Trump supporters, and reluctant Trump voters.

But the reluctant Trump voters had 18 months to read the fine print. This is what they bought.

There is no “Get Out of Jail Free” card here. A Trump voter who says they don’t see it… if they are genuine… has a bigotry blind spot a mile wide.

If I’m on the highway, and only check one mirror before I change lanes, and cause a collision because a car was in my blind spot… it’s my fault.

Same deal here.

 

When you accept what Trumpism is, the inexplicable hypocrisy is not so inexplicable.

“You want someone who will eliminate debt… but Trump’s economic plan will add $5 trillion to it?”

“You want a candidate who’ll take care of the middle class… but Trump’s tax plan heavily favors the very wealthy?”

And on and on and on.

None of these things are the issues of Trumpism. That’s why the contradictions never sink in, no matter how dumbfounding. These are just the words people use to avoid harder conversations, like saying the Civil War was fought over “state’s rights” or Vegemite is delicious “if you spread it right.”

The real issues of the Trump movement are the Muslim ban, searching mosques, and a Muslim surveillance program. Rolling back gay marriage (and if we add in contributions from Gov. Pence, exempting LGBTQIA persons from anti-discrimination laws and using taxpayer money to fund gay conversion therapy). Mexicans as criminals and people of Mexican heritage unable to do their jobs. All of Black America living in a monolithic inner-city hellscape. Overt attacks on a Somali community. Mocking disabilities. The endorsement of White nationalist groups. Birtherism. Women as convenient carrying cases for pussies to be grabbed.

These are the only issues on which Trump has not flip-flopped. They’re his most consistent calls to action. They’re the themes that invariably emerged in his rallies.

 

The sun rose today on a country graffitied in swastikas and racial epithets, and where the KKK gathered on a bridge in North Carolina to celebrate their victory.

I personally know people whose children of color were racially bullied and even physically assaulted in school today. A friend of a friend shared on social media how a Latina child wrote her teacher a good-bye letter in school today, just in case.

The transgender suicide hotline, Trans Lifeline, is so swamped with calls today they can only answer 1/3 of them.

When I was helping organize a counter rally when Trump came to my city – something I did quietly, explicitly trying to hide my name – I was flooded with death threats. One guy told me he knew where I lived and was going to slaughter me and my children. Another told me he hoped I liked having my name on the list “for the ovens.”

This is Trumpism. This is what it’s about. It’s why all the polls were wrong, all the projections missed it.

Because those of us who aren’t part of it had no idea these were issues. We thought we’d had these conversations already. NONE of our methodologies accounted for racial resentment as a unifier. When bigotry emerged, we batted it away, didn’t take it seriously enough.

We thought it was just a few loonies.

We thought the majority was with us already.

We thought everyone else was in on the joke, too.

 

A lot of Trump supporters don’t like to use the frank language.

They are very careful with their words. Despite the fact that one of the biggest reasons they love their guy is because “he says it as it is,” and they’re “tired of everything being so PC,” they don’t put it out there plain.

Instead, they say, “Make America Great Again,” with the emphasis on “again.” They say, “certain people.” They say, “take our country back.”

We all know what they mean, and they know we know. But they’ll never say the words. In this way they get to indulge their hate, actively disenfranchise and oppress people… and then deny their bigotry and avoid having to answer for it.

 

People telling us to calm down don’t understand why we’re worked up.

We’ve lost before. I mean, damn, who doesn’t remember “hanging chads” and the debacle that brought us George W. Bush?

Yes, we’re afraid of Trump’s policies. They’re genuinely horrible.

But the reason we’re worked up is because we woke up in a country that openly endorsed bigotry. Lots of our fellow citizens are soon going to be less free. In the United States. In 2016.

This is not prognostication. This is what the President-Elect has promised.

 

Words matter.

Our words are important right now because they’re our most powerful weapon to fight this evil – and it is evil – that’s threatening our democracy.

If we are White and straight and cis and Christian and able-bodied (or can pass as such) our words matter even more because, for us, they’re an option. We get to choose whether to fight this battle. And even if we do choose to fight it, we get to pack up our words when we’re done and go home and carry on in peace.

Our neighbors who are not White or straight or cis or Christian or able-bodied don’t have the choice. There’s no packing it away for them. They live it every day.

Talk about tired.

For their sakes, and for the future of our communities, we have to take up this work. It is beyond important. It’s not enough for us to see a mother’s worry and say we’re sorry or that we’re praying for her. Our good intentions will not get on the bus in the morning with her Black son, or walk him home at night, or save him from being murdered for wearing a hoodie.

 

The way we deliver our words matters, too.

I messed my words up last night. They were wrong because they sent away the very people I need to reach. That was my error.

We need conversations, not simultaneous broadcasts.

 

But let’s be clear – it is not my job to make bigots feel comfortable.

I am done having the gentle conversations.

We all like to be liked. In the past I’ve had the gentle conversations because I wanted the other person to like me at the end, to respect me. Which meant allowing them to walk away feeling good about it.

But this is a copout.

The fallout of this election isn’t landing on the people who voted for Trump, or on me. It’s landing on marginalized communities. Pretty much no matter how bad this deal gets, Trumpland – and anyone who looks like they could live there – comes out okay, even if everything else burns to the ground.

There is no reason for Trump supporters to care. Unless we make their ignorance uncomfortable.

Unless we force the conversation.

Unless we push them outside their comfort zones, call on them to answer for a belief system they’ve so far been able to hold without being accountable.

Everyone likes to remember Rosa Parks as a sweet old lady who out of the blue one day refused to move to the back of the bus. In reality, Rosa Parks was a badass. She’d been an activist, making people uncomfortable, for years before the day her activism landed in the right way, triggered the Montgomery Bus Boycott… and changed everything.

Controlling bigotry in our society isn’t a part-time gig. It’s hard core. It’s urgent. And it isn’t gentle.

 

I guarantee I will make mistakes in trying to do this.

When I do, I will own it. If I don’t, call me on it. Accountability works both ways.

I promise to give others the space, too, to back up, recalibrate, and adjust.

We’ll grow together.

 

Love still trumps hate.

If love hasn’t won – if equality isn’t in place – then it just means our work isn’t done.

When I used the wrong words, it wasn’t the people who snarked back at me who made me see my error.

It was the people who spoke to me in love.

They humbled me and helped me reconnect with what was important.

I am choosing to make this the most important lesson I’ve learned from this election. I commit to pay it forward.

Love trumps hate, always.

 

Update Nov. 11, 2016: Click here to see what steps I’m taking today to help support a massive resistance to the racist and damaging policies of Donald Trump.

24 Responses to “It is not my job to make bigots feel comfortable.”

  1. Daniel J. Andrews

    Hey: Do not apologize for your first gut reaction. I feel exactly the same way. You have expressed the same opinions that many of us feel and, God willing, you will light a spark in so many of us to become active and responsive over the coming years. I am a 75 year old white, college (and law school educated) man who expected a sea change in the American political system with the election of the first woman President in history with whom I share many common goals. I was so pleased to see the election & re-election of the first black President in our history during my lifetime. And the shame is that the opposition idiots spent so much time and effort to denigrate his accomplishments that they forgot that they were supposed to working for all Americans, and not just for themselves. As for the issue of bigotry, there is no question that bigotry has never disappeared from our nation, and Donald Trump has tapped into that reserve. Sociologists all suggest that people always need other people to look down upon. And the results of this election confirm that the uneducated, the poor “white trash”, and other disadvantaged groups have always “dumped” upon the black and Hispanic “welfare queens” and similar descriptions to make themselves feel better than them. And now they have free rein to do so. What a pathetic state of affairs. P.T. Barnum said it best when he noted: “You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time”. I’m not sure he was correct when he said that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. I can only hope that Abraham Lincoln was right when he observed in his 1st Inaugural Address: “While the people retain their virtue and vigilance, no administration, by any extreme of wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years”. God willing, he was correct.
    Daniel J. Andrews, Esq. (Ret.)

    • Jaimie

      Thank you, Daniel, for sharing this. I hope along with you that Lincoln’s wisdom will hold true for us… and that we can all model his bravery and strength of character no matter what may come.

    • Ramswrsw

      “they forgot that they were supposed to working for all Americans”
      While I think well of your analysis overall, I think that, on this point you, and many Americans, are in denial. They did not “forget.” It has not been the intention of the political right in the U.S. to work for all Americans since the introduction of the New Deal. Their intention has been to do what they have now succeeded in doing: using their stranglehold on all three branches of the Federal government to establish an oligarchy that could not be removed from power. African Americans and other minorities have been used throughout U.S. history to divert the attention of White citizens away from the real threat to their freedom and well-being, and the lowest-common-denominator interpretation of “freedom” has been instrumental in sustaining an anti-intellectualism necessary to sell that scam to a plurality of white voters.
      Right-wing politicians in America have forgotten nothing. They never had any interest in working for all Americans, only for the ones that enrich them.

  2. jason

    Many of my friends are telling me that my stance on this how this election is an example of extreme white racism is wrong. They tell me that they reject the guilt-by-association, that they don’t agree that it’s “all white people,” that what I am saying is an act of self-loathing.
    This isn’t self-loathing, it’s situational awareness. We, my White friends and family, live under the protection of white privilege -it’s there. Mine is the face of the oppressor, like it or not, as is theirs, and their families and their parents and children and nieces and nephews. You may disagree, you may not like it, but it is the truth. The only way this changes is if we make it change, rather than perpetuate the fear and loathing of people who look like us by electing a sniveling, cowardly racist whore of a man like Trump. The first step is to acknowledge the collective WE have been the problem, and begin the conversation from that point. We are the problem, and we have to acknowledge this before was can even begin to be a part of the conversation. I know that “not all…” But I also know we HAVE to do better. WE – we straight white men – we need to recognize the harm WE, as a collective, have caused, the fear we sow and we need to work to rectify that. In order to be, as an individual, a part of the solution, then we MUST acknowledge that we, as a collective, are the major part of the problem. Trump, racist, sexist, religonist, rapey Trump was voted in predominantly by straight white men, with white women coming in a close second. PoC didn’t unleash this wave of neo-fascist fear upon themselves, “we” did it to them.
    My friends don’t agree. They give me the slippery slope argument, saying that we can’t say “all white people” just like we can’t say “all Muslims are terrorist” or all BLM members are cop killers.” They disagree with me vehemently
    But they don’t need to agree. I understand how hard it is to actually accept how we are viewed by the non-white communities. But it is an honest, realistic stance, and quite frankly, more productive than saying “this is not a group that does damage.” They are 100% correct in saying that all Muslims are not terrorists when less than 0.1% of Muslims are extremists. Same goes for BLM. But when a MAJORITY of a particular population acts in a certain manner, you can start to see that those actions may be a problem. More than 60% of white men who voted voted for Trump – that’s not insignificant. That’s a majority. More than 50% of white women did as well… again, a significant percentage.
    This is a pure, 100% racist vote, and racism won the election, racism perpetrated by white voters either through action by voting for Trump or inaction by not voting at all. The Muslim/BLM slippery slope argument doesn’t hold up in this case because we’ve already slid down the slope. To put in another light – albeit an extreme one, and one that’s used overly much: 7% of Germans were Nazis when Hitler first came on the scene, and only about 10% ever became Nazis even at the height of power. He got into office – while not president, but chancellor – with only 37% of the vote. Trump received a much larger percentage of the white vote. PoC, women and LGBTQ are genuinely frightened of us, and with good fucking reason – most of us (and by “us” I mean “white folk,” especially “straight white folk”) just voted in the most vitriolic, hateful, sexist racist white man in mainstream US political history. In the last two days, hate crimes have shot up, harassment of individuals in these groups has been crazy, and an even greater political disenfranchisement in the near future. My friends don’t need to agree, but it’s the awful truth. A White American majority set this in motion – not a fringe group, a majority. If they don’t see that as a problem yet, then… I don’t know. I know my friends personally, their kindness, and heart, and I know that they, individually are generally not racist
    But I think that they may be naive when it comes to the extreme racial inequality in the US. This is not about the individual. This is about the group as a whole. Again I say: I have seen the enemy and he is us.

  3. Daniel J. Andrews

    While I may not agree with the rather “blanket” indictment you have laid out, I do agree with much of it, at least so far as “The Donald” is concerned. I am reminded of the “Farewell to Manzanar” being a first-hand account of the forced relocation and internment of Japanese-Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor, one of the most shameful episodes in American history which took more than a generation to rectify. I can envision the same kind of thing occurring under Trump and a Republican dominated Congress in relation to all Arab-Americans (since none of those idiots can distinguish between and among Muslims, Christians, etc. since he brands them all as terrorists); and also in relation to all Hispanic-Americans who he considers to be criminals, rapists and drug dealers, even though, again, he cannot distinguish between and among Mexicans, Guatemalans, Castilians, Cubans, Puerto Ricans et al. I suppose, according to Trump, Sen. Marco Rubio is also suspect!!
    In 1936, Sinclair Lewis wrote a book entitled: “It Can’t Happen Here”. I fear it has happened here!! And Lord save us from ourselves.

  4. Skyler Lovelace

    Your article has resounded among those of us living in a blue state. 96 likes and 28 shares from my share alone.

    I’ve also shared your follow-on post for its excellent strategies on where to go from here. Last night in Wichita, over 400 people gathered in Old Town square to rally for those marginalized by the negative attitudes personified by the president-elect.

    Thank you so much for providing excellent words and a road map to a better place.

    • Skyler Lovelace

      AH, The first line should be *living blue in a RED state.”

      • Jaimie

        Skyler, thank you for sharing! I’m so glad it’s resonating. Way to go, Wichita! Tomorrow we are gathering in Buffalo, NY in our own expression of love and solidarity for the people President-Elect Trump promises to oppress. Our momentum is powerful!

  5. Chris

    > I eventually captured the facts most Trump supporters tried to argue about on a two-page document – even citing the nonpartisan resources

    Do you have a copy I could read please and thank you?

  6. robert mcclenning

    I’m living through a Brexit nightmare but it’s nothing compared to what you guys are having to face up to.

    • Jaimie

      Oh, and Robert, I have to admit, I was so smug about Brexit! “Those Brits, what have they done?!” (I said it with a horrible accent.) And now look at us. The world lost its mind in 2016.

  7. Izabela Trzebuniak

    I didn’t read much of your post past the words, “I’ve spent so much time in the last year having the quiet, calm, reasonable conversations with people”. Simply because we DIDN’T have these conversations. We hardly had ANY conversations over the last few years, much less political ones. So, your quick judgement of my choice for president in our free country, along with your highly offensive language cannot be justified with this explanation or any other you may offer, short of an apology. As a naturalized US citizen I am extremely proud to finally have a constitutional right to vote freely and without repercussions, and would NEVER expect any reasonable, FREE human being to try to shame or somehow punish me for my choice. Glad I got the chance to tell you how I felt about your rash judgement here. You recent statements, especially in light of what is happening on a national level, felt threatening, so I must admit I am glad I do not live locally. I stand by my choice now more than ever; if I had any doubts, your statement brought me back to my senses. Too bad your temper tantrum clouded your appreciation for our beautiful free elections. Let’s see how you will respect freedom of speech in your decision to post this or not. I have no intentions of engaging in any sort of debates or negotiations; I simply felt the need to respond to this since I seem to be one of the people you were addressing.

    • Jaimie

      I doubt you will read this, Izabela, but I am glad you had the opportunity to express what are clearly your strongly-held feelings about this election, my position, and the way I conducted myself. I said the wrong thing, which I 100% acknowledge. This post on my blog is not about you or to you, and I am certainly not describing you when I talk about the many, many political conversations I have had with people over the past 12-18 months of actual relationships and activism. I do not defend what I said poorly and crassly. However: You candidate has said far, far more offensive things, far many times, and it was not only inoffensive to you, but inoffensive to a degree that you find him qualified for the highest office in the country. So while I apologize for where I misstepped, I will call out this hypocrisy where it stands. Donald Trump is an open racist and misogynist whose rhetoric and policies will cause direct and immediate harm to actual people. Use of the “f” word seems to pale in comparison.

  8. CC

    If someone pearl-clutches about profanity but writes off Trump’s disgusting drivel as “locker room talk,” they’re beyond hope, and I will not waste my time on them.

  9. JoAn GODFREY

    when i think of MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, i think of keeping and promoting jobs IN AMERICA, not sending them to mexico or overseas. treaties have done that.
    getting our credit rating back. obama policies did that.
    REAL AFFORDABLE health care… not 25% increases in premiums and doubling deductions every year.
    enforcing our immigration laws already on the books and eliminating safe cities. it would save MILLIONS every year just in handouts, then add in the decrease in crime, accidents, murders, rapes…………… i know not all illegals are criminals, don’t go there.
    vetting the immigrants coming to this country….. HEALTH PHYSICALS!!! communicable diseases are UP. they are bringing TB some drug resistant, measles, AIDS………………………
    a ban on sharia law nation wide. it totally contradicts OUR CONSTITUTION.
    I want REAL education back in our schools that aim at all kids not just the gifted. we need basic trade introduction, music, art……… back in schools with real history classes., writing……… not movies substituting for instruction!
    i want to feel SAFE again!!!!! IF THAT IS BIGOTED THEN I AM PROUD TO BE

      • JoAn GODFREY

        Full Definition of bigot. : a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance.

        same can be said of the political parties.

        • Jaimie

          Your post is full of racially-charged ignorance. You fully and completely fit the definition you just posted. You are proud of that. Go with God. It is not my intent to open your mind or convert you. You’ll come to see it, or you won’t. In the meantime, the rest of us will make progress without you.

  10. Tania Herbert

    Thank you!
    Thank you for expressing the way how I and many others feel after this elections. Love will Trump Hate because our great country is better than this.
    We will stand together and next to each other and for each other.

  11. Judy

    Thank you for this. It is soooo what I’ve been thinking and feeling! There is something about Trump voters that we can not comprehend and will never be able to reason with. We’re just going to have to accept that and move on. We were so close to actual progress but now we’re right back to fighting with these troglodytes. And yes, I will name call ’til the cows come home because they, like their president, hate it when it’s directed at them. I will throw their bigotry and hypocrisy right in their faces. I think I will lose some friends, but I can no longer pretend to be friends with bigots. Who needs ’em! They aren’t the majority. We won the popular vote. So there’s that.

  12. Hazel Donaldson

    They are a minority. It seems to be a Republican thing to win by minority. I am sick that my friends, family and neighbors could have so much hate in their hearts to vote for a vulgar, narcissistic, egotist with the values of a rattlesnake. They have given this dictator more power than any mortal has ever had, i.e., the Supreme Court, Congress and the military. He is sponsored by KKK, NRA, Russia and an illegal act by FBI. I will never understand. How could they??

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