My first reaction to President Trump was all wrong.
On November 9, the day after the election, I wrote an uplifting post about the hope I felt for our country. Yes, Trump had won, but democracy was awakening. People were changing. We were reaching out to each other. We were engaging politically. We were going to make a difference!
It sounds warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it?
My post reads differently to me today. There is something subtle, something insidious hiding between my lines. In the background of my post, a tiny voice is whispering: “It won’t be that bad. It won’t impact me. I am safe. I am protected.”
Can you hear it?
Less than 24 hours after Trump won the presidency, I was assuring myself that everything would be okay.
Because people were wink-winking “I didn’t vote for him either.” Because someone wore a vaguely political t-shirt in public. Because the coffee shop was playing ironic, pseudo-revolutionary music.
I can’t believe I was serious.
What I was really saying was that I would be okay.
This was my privilege speaking.
Many Trump voters chose him not because of his hateful rhetoric, but in spite of it. They were willing to look past his “flaws” to see the businessman and “strong leader.” (My quotations reference sentiments I’ve picked up from Trump voters. I would use different terms.) I hadn’t been able to understand how people brush off this hatred so easily, but now I see that I was doing it, too.
I wasn’t thinking about refugees when I said, “it won’t be that bad.”
I didn’t consider the rights of the LGBTQ community when I was embarrassed by Trump, but not outraged.
I wasn’t thinking of the assaults on the press and freedom of speech when I felt annoyed, but not angry.
I didn’t consider the environmental degradation we’re leaving for our children when I reassured myself, “it will be a long four years, but we can hold on until the next election.”
I didn’t care about the religious persecution of Muslims when I said, “let’s not talk about it, it is too depressing.”
I’ve been comforted by my privilege for a long, long time. Many of us have. It’s part of the reason why we find ourselves here.
It’s time to step away from that.
Let’s be comforted by each other, as we’re working, calling, and showing up… but let’s not be comfortable, lulled in a sense of personal security that disregards the real pain and oppression experienced by others.
Comfortable is dangerous.
Comfortable is compliant.
And when innocent travelers are detained at airports without access to lawyers for hours, when people are persecuted for their religion, race, and country of origin, when scientists are silenced, when freedom of speech is threatened, comfortable becomes culpable.