The last 48 hours have been a whirlwind of emotions for many people in the country. Shock. Horror. Anger. Depression. Shame. You know, just your standard stages of mourning…
(It’s a terrible sign when a bunch of teachers are crying after an election, by the way…)
Now, Trump supporters will roll their eyes and say, “Oh you’re just being dramatic. It won’t be that bad. Now is the time to come together as a country and put this vicious campaign behind us,” Don’t get me wrong, I understand that sentiment. I really do. The American political tradition is built on this sense of reconciliation. After a long hard fought political battle, this gesture is what makes us unique and strong. You can see this feeling manifest in the statements made today by President-Elect Donald Trump. He went to the White House and described how “honored” he was to be meeting President Obama. His victory speech, the previous day, was humble and soft-spoken as he stated his intentions to help ALL Americans. His two minions, Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani, even stated that they would graciously reconsider bringing criminal charges to Hillary Clinton! So once again, I understand the need and desire to put all of this bad blood behind us in order to mend our wounds and “Make America Great Again”.
Here’s the problem. All of these “genuine” gestures of reconciliation are BULLSHIT. To “let bygones be bygones” is to try to throw back into the closet all of the 2-week old, festering, dirty laundry that came out in this election. This is something I will not do. I have too much integrity to reconcile.
Here is what I WILL do:
As a teacher to a population of African-American and Muslim students, I will explain to my students how Trump won. I will explain to them that most people who voted for him were concerned about losing their jobs and that he was the only one promising to make it better. I will explain to them that only a fraction of the electorate voted for him solely out of a racist agenda. I will talk them down from the cliff as they contemplate all of the ways in which Trump is going to take away their rights. I will urge them to educate themselves and others; to organize their communities and friends; to take political action and peacefully protest for their rights; and to vote. I will do everything in my power to keep them hopeful in the future of our country.
But I will NOT forget everything you said and did, Donald Trump.
I will not forget how you championed a political agenda based on racist, xenophobic rhetoric. I will not forget how you called Mexicans “rapists”. I will not forget how you called on the country to ban Muslims. I will not forget how you spent five years accusing our President of being born in Kenya in order to discredit him. I will not forget how you used these horrible, hate-filled, divisive statements to help get you elected. I do believe that you are not racist, but your white privilege makes you ignorant, nonetheless. The fact that you would knowingly use this type of rhetoric to push your cause forward makes you worse than a racist. At least someone who is racist has principles, as fucked up as they are. I will never forget that you are less principled than a bigot.
I will not forget how you banned several media outlets from covering you because they critiqued and criticized the divisive comments you make. I will never forget how you claimed you would challenge the First Amendment in order to punish our free press if you were elected. I will not forget how you loved to deliver insults but couldn’t handle any in return. I will not forget how you ranted and railed against comedians, politicians, and pundits who made fun of your or challenged you. I will not forget how you often did this on Twitter…. at 3 AM.
I will never forget the misogyny. I will never forget “grab her by the pussy” or the appalling first 30 minutes of the second debate where you shamelessly threw the different accusers of Bill Clinton into Hillary’s face just so you could deflect from your transgressions.
There are too many other things you did to list here, but here’s just a few more things I will not forget:
I will not forget how everyone – media, analysts, and people from your own party/campaign – predicted you would lose because your campaign simply could not, would not, and should not be taken seriously.
I will not forget that my wife, my mother, my sisters, my nieces, and my other female friends and family did not get to see the first woman president become elected because they lost to you.
I will not forget how angry and scared my students have been due to the constant tensions with police. I remember telling them that they needed to vote because they didn’t have a right to complain if they chose not to use their right. On Monday, I reminded them, able to vote for the first time in their lives, to vote on Tuesday.
I will never forget the looks on their faces on Wednesday. The shock. The horror. The dejectedness. This was their first time voting, and the outcome made them question every positive value they had heard about it.
I WILL NEVER FORGET HOW YOU SCARED MY KIDS. I will never forgive you for this.
So as we move into the next four years, I will be a good citizen. I have spent my adult years worshipping Ben Franklin and trying to create a fresh look at America’s founding through a “Progressively Patriotic” lens. I will respect that you are President through America’s Electoral College, even though you lost the popular vote. I will respect the Office of the President and give you a chance to solve the many problems in the country. But I will not forget everything that you did to make me lose my faith in America’s values.
I will never forget. I cannot forget.