I am white. I am a woman, but I grew up in a liberal and affluent suburb. I am pursuing a higher education. I hold liberal ideals and I try to educate myself on social issues that my experience does not allow me to understand.
I understand intellectually how homophobia and racism affect our country. I understand how deep their roots are and how toxic and nuanced these forces are. I have been exposed to antisemitism and affected by misogyny. But the truth is, I’ve never been held back from pursing my dreams and interests for either of these parts of my identity. I’ve never been assaulted physically or sexually. As much as I can understand the affect of these forces of bigotry, it is rare that I have to live their harsh consequences myself. This is another fact of which I am always aware. But until today I don’t like I ever realized the pure math of what it means to be minority. That it means not only withstanding these toxic presences but to be outnumbered against them.
Hillary Clinton lost last night because she didn’t have the support of the uneducated white class. I usually like to believe that everyone’s vote has validity, but it is my belief that the “working class whites” have chosen wrong. As white people we cannot ever have first hand understanding of the threads of hatred that undermine this country. We learn these things from listening to others. From studying history and art and the history of art and we open our eyes to what has really been happening in this country since its birth. It has been easy for me to surround myself with educated metropolitan people. It has been easy for me to find meaningful and lasting friendships with people of color, people who aren’t straight, people who come from other countries. It’s been easy for me to find supportive Jewish communities and other vibrant young women who are angry and awake. It’s been easy for me to find people who care about subverting the hateful forces at play in our society, people who care about representation and history. It was easy for me to believe these desires were universal and obvious. It was easy for me to forget why these communities have been disenfranchised for so long.
The fact is that Hillary Clinton was one of the best presidential candidates we have ever had. She was always looking out for others, upon graduating from law school, instead of taking the usual route of pursuing money and power she worked for the Children’s Defense Fund. If you look through her leaked emails you will find a plethora where she asks her staff about young women sold into sex slavery asking, “Is there any way we can help her? Can we get her to the US for counseling and education?” She worked her ass off. She played by the rules. Because she was a woman people went out of their way to tear her down. James Comey went on a damaging witch hunt even within the final weeks of the campaign to instill doubt in the country’s heart based on no evidence, based on a wrongdoing that wasn’t wrong for the myriad of people who used private email servers before her. Her image, her integrity, and her hard work were slandered by misogynists everywhere. People shut out the voices of their loved ones about why we truly need this woman in favor of buzzwords like “distrust” and “sleazy” without ever having to do any of the examining of the history of our society that has led them to their beliefs. Those people are now emboldened by a victory. Everyone who has ever bullied or bullshitted their way to the top, who has turned a blind eye to the truth in order to get what they want, anyone who has diminished others out of spite is suddenly the victor. I always knew the people who diminished Hillary Clinton were privileged because such people wouldn’t have to face the consequences of a trump presidency firsthand, but the truth is we will all face the consequences of the next four years. The widespread disdain for Hillary Clinton was and still is a privileged view because the only way it can continue to exist is in the hearts of people who never have had to consider the experience of anyone else, people who are in the majority and will never need to truly listen to the needs of their dissenters
There are more men than women. There are more white people than brown or black or Asian people. There are more older white people without college educations who have never been asked or expected to understand hatred or politics or climate change. Even though it seemed so obvious that Trump was the wrong choice, obvious firsthand, obvious historically, this is what disenfranchisement is. The majority votes for themselves even if it means holding everyone else down. I can’t even believe I’m actually surprised that this resilient, competent woman who was a bright light in the dark for so many of us lost. I’m surprised at myself for being surprised that ignorance as an excuse for bigotry is what’s won out It’s almost like I forgot that this is America.