18 November 2016

I'm Not Scared of You

This election has had an impact on me that I would have never predicted. I'm sad, I'm scared, and I'm disappointed. Not just that my candidate didn't win but that a large portion of this nation voted and said that racism is okay, sexism and sexual assault is okay, fraud is okay. People seem to believe that it's now okay to be openly racist.

The racism bothers me the most. I worked for the YWCA for seven years. It is in the actual mission statement to eliminate racism. I admit that that portion made me skeptical. Erasing racism is impossible. But, we can do our part to make sure it lessens. It became a core belief for me.

Now I'm in Vegas. I'm away from my predominantly white state. I don't normally notice much a person's color but now I am painfully aware.  Now I feel protective. I feel compelled, as a middle-aged white woman, to say "I'm not one of them!"

I meant to grab a safety pin to wear but I forgot. Also, that movement has been met with such derision that it gave me a sense of futility. But it's an easy way to say I'm Not One Of Them.

While we were checking into the hotel the other day, I asked the  clerk a question that she misunderstood. She thought I asked her if she'd experienced any abuse since the election. She said no but that she's nervous now. She has to think about it now.

One of our favorite baristas at home is mixed race and she's scared.  She's already had a friend who was verbally attacked. She attends a liberal university in a liberal city in a county that is conservative. She says she no longer feels safe and now feels like she has to be vigilant.

This morning I went downstairs to get a coffee. As I was waiting for the elevator, a man also walked up to wait. I glanced up and he was a gorgeous black man, also by himself. I saw him internally flinch. I felt like sh#t knowing he's probably thinking this tiny little white girl is scared of him.

I looked at him again and he was studiously examining the back of his chip bag. Now I am having a debate in my head as to what to do. I stood there feeling dumb.

Finally the elevator arrived. He stepped on first because he was closer. I stepped on and smiled. I said "Good morning." And he visibly relaxed. Then four college guys got in and off we went.

When the elevator stopped he let me out first. I told him thank you and to have a good day. I can only hope that everyone meets him with the same respect and gentleness.

I effing hate that this is a thing. Some might say that it's always been a thing but it wasn't in my world. While I try to remember that people are mostly good, I can't help but feel compelled to compensate for the ones who aren't.

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