For the past 4 years I have been angry. Raising a child who is disabled has forced me to confront a lot of the traumas I faced growing up while disabled, and then if that wasn’t enough, the 2016 elections happened, which were triggering for me on a whole different level. I was bullied in elementary school, and some people who worked in the schools told my parents it was the worse case of school bullying they had ever seen. Because of this, I never thought of Trump as a joke, I found him triggering and terrifying. And that anyone could vote for him, let alone millions, has brought a lot of trauma to the surface. Basically the message everyone who voted for him sent was that it was okay for him to bully and degrade people, and that so many people in the United States believe that and that I walk among those people has been disillusioning. For the past 4 years I have been angrier than I have ever been, and I’ve had good reasons to be angry. But it is not a natural or a normal state for me, and it’s not how I like to live.
They say write from a scar rather than a wound. And I’ve been writing from wounds until the point where I couldn’t anymore, especially as I don’t think I am terribly effective when writing from a wound, and also because doing so is so painful. Still, time goes on, scars form. I’m still attending protests, voting, and calling my representatives, doing what I can to fight the most dangerous administration I have seen rise to power in my life time. But the anger I feel is no longer as strong. It’s faded to a grim resolve. On the one hand I am horrified that I am no longer furious, because it means that something atrocious has become normalized. On the other hand, anger was consuming me.
I’m a long way from wanting to build bridges, especially as harmful people are in power, people who only care about the rights of rich, white, evangelical men. When people in power want to take away the rights of people who don’t have it, bridge building isn’t going to happen. There are still a lot of fights coming up. I am marching next week against gun violence. I will be voting for leaders who reign in a dangerous despot rather than enable him. And I’m at the point where I can write from a scar.
Back in college I worked as a cashier at a grocery store. This was an extremely stressful job for me. While I could deal with the people who were pleasant, the fact of the matter is that there is a percentage of people who go to the grocery store and vent their frustrations on the cashiers. And as someone who was bullied growing up, this was triggering and mentally draining for me and made my life a living hell.
So Christopher Keelty posted an essay disparaging safety pins. To be fair he makes a few good points, however, it came off as extremely condescending and he showed a lack of understanding about the people behind the safety pin movement and their reasons for getting involved. He also completely seemed to forget that this was also a loss for white women that he disparaged in his article.
At a high school near me, someone drew in chalk on the sidewalk a picture of a wall with the message underneath “build that wall.” A Muslim student’s hijab was ripped from her head. The n slur is flying fast and loose and white kids are telling black kids that soon they will be back to picking cotton. There are similar reports from across the country of hateful episodes, and it worries me to no end that the election of a bullying racist misogynist has just legitimized this.
I got mine yesterday and feel better wearing one now. Granted, the only place I went to today was a remote park so I could spend some quiet, healing time in nature with my kiddos, but I did run into a few people, all of them POC who looked devastated and like they were there for the same reasons I was. I have no idea if they knew the symbolism of what I was wearing, but I hope they did and I hope it makes it easier.
The second part of this? Bystander intervention. Please read to link for information on what to do if you witness harassment. The steps are,
1. Address the person being harassed, do not address the attacker.
2. Offer to sit with the person, walk with them, engage in harmless conversation until the attacker leaves.
3. Once the attacker leaves, offer to escort them to a safe place, but be understanding if they just need you to leave so they can process what just happened.
I have a bad feeling that things are going to get very ugly. These are simple things we can do to fight back against the ugliness.