The Day After
I woke up this morning with a queasy, low-lying panic deep in my stomach. The last time I felt this way was four years ago when I was told by my ultrasound tech that I was going to have a girl, not the boy that I had hoped for. Today, it's the same horror, anxiety and sadness melted into a strange emotion that looks a lot like grief; I don't want to talk to anyone. I only want to sink a little deeper into someone's soft lap and close my eyes to the spotlight of hatred that's upon us, relentless as a search light.
Up until the last few weeks, I'd been soothing myself with "at least it's almost over," but then it occurred to me: if Hillary doesn't win, it won't be over. The extreme animosity, racism, misogyny, islamophobia, mocking of disabled people, sexism and rape culture language that was thrown in my face everyday of this campaign will continue. Underneath all of this is hatred: hatred for women, hatred for everyone different but mainly hatred for women. How else do we here in North Carolina explain a Roy Cooper and Donald Trump victory? Blaming a Hillary loss on the media or on "the candidate herself" shifts blame from where it really needs to be. Trump was elected overwhelmingly by white voters (58% to Clinton's 37%), white men (63% to 31%) and non-college educated whites (67% for Trump) specifically. We have a whole lot of racist, sexist white people in this country who couldn't stand seeing a woman elected president. That's what's really going on here.
I got a hint Tuesday when I was out canvassing in South Durham. I talked to an older (60's+) white guy and said my line, "I understand you are a Hillary supporter, is that correct?". He looked at me for a beat and said, "I'm a registered Democrat." and then closed the door in my face. At the time, I chalked it up to voter fatigue and moved on. But in hindsight, he's likely a big part of the reason why we have woke up to a nightmare of massive proportions.
No woman wants to admit there is so much more hatred out there. It's painful enough to know that birth control is on you since you're the one who can get pregnant or that you're paid less than your male counterpart doing the same work or the waste of paying taxes on feminine hygiene products just because you're a woman who menstruates. (And of course the discrimination is much worse for women of color and poor women.) But we get it, right? It's a pain we know and work with daily. But this election? This is so different. Last night and today, we got the triumphant glimpse into the face of so many of our fellow Americans as they celebrate their candidate and know that they chose him in spite of the fact that he is a violent misogynist who bullies, assaults, threatens and mocks people. That's a newer agony which few of us knew was quite so deep among our neighbors and friends.
Hillary continues to blow me away with her grace and compassion but my own manner is morose. I'm still bleeding from last night's repeated blows. The hatred has toppled me. Everywhere I look from the my place on the hard floor are more hurt people. I haven't been on Facebook in over 24 hours. I'm limiting Twitter and have turned off NPR. Don't call me; I won't pick up. All of us non-haters do have work to do, yes, but for me, today, right now, I'm taking care of me. I hope you can do the same.