Today I am low. Like mushy and gray and quiet at my very cold, shiny black core. The only way I can describe it is that I feel like someone has died. I put black clothing on; at the last second, I changed to a gray sweater. I felt ashen and dull. I still do.
Last night the people of this country voted to elect Hillary Clinton in a popular vote. But the Electoral College voted for Donald Trump. So the latter is our President Elect. If it were simply a matter of Democrats/Republicans or liberals/conservatives, it wouldn't have so much power over me. But the hate-filled campaign, the dog-whistle rhetoric encouraged some Americans to feel comfortable saying directly to my face:
"I'm so TIRED of minorities asking for special treatment."
"If only the gay lifestyle weren't being FORCED DOWN OUR THROATS."
"Look at your parents! They worked hard and are successful, why can't people just shut up and follow the rules?"
My gut reaction to the outcome of the election--even though I was born in the town where I currently work today--was a fear for my child having to grow up without a mother because I'd be deported for being brown. That's not founded in any facts, yet the fear is gripping. It stuns me each time I allow it to surface.
This past month I went to try and get a short-term, tourist visa for my United States Citizen mother to return to the motherland and attend the wedding of the youngest child of her youngest sibling, essentially the last of the original family. She was told if she cannot produce her Indian passport from 1977--the one made invalid when she took an oath to be a United States citizen (to prove she had a valid work visa to come here), she couldn't go back. Or maybe she could go but then not return...the threat wasn't clear, but it was ominous.
People are scared to wear hijab; they're telling each other that Allah will understand. They hesitate to hold the hand of a same-sex partner in public. Parents are sobbing, sleepless, fearing for the safety of their children.
For many, MANY people, these fears of mine are unfounded, imaginary, made up. An overreaction to not getting my way. Hate crimes don't really happen. Groups of white men on a Friday night in a town you're born in don't surround your car, look menacingly at you in 2016 and say "well they don't know how to drive." No that must not happen. BECAUSE IT DOESN'T HAPPEN TO THEM.
I know there are myriad reasons why people voted that way. I myself watched my livelihood disintegrate, my life savings circle the drain and was forced to start again at nothing because of technological advances in society. That's a valid thing to be bitter about. But to excuse the free pass on all the hate? Unacceptable.
Something HAS died. My sense of safety in the only world I have ever known. All I can pray for is that the people in this country put their actions where they say their hearts are and stand up for those of us who are being made to cower once again. It's been about twenty years since someone told me to go back to my own country. I suspect I will hear it again fairly soon.
The sun may shine tomorrow, but things won't look very bright.