What I Wish My White Friends & Family Understood About Our Election Grief

What I Wish My White Friends & Family Understood About Our Election Grief November 10, 2016
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It’s day 2, and I’m still grieving and feeling physically sick over the election– especially as I read story after story of how the Trump win has already emboldened racist bullying, threats, intimidation, and sexual assaults— in just the first day.

As I process, I’m realizing there’s a lot of things I wish my white friends and family knew and understood about our post-election grieving.

I wish they understood that this isn’t an issue of Republican or Democrat, but that this is an issue of life and death.

I wish they understood that we’re not grieving because we didn’t get our own way, but are grieving because the nation instantly became less safe for so many– particularly for our kids.

I wish they knew what it was like to send my daughter to school after the election, wanting to vomit with fear over what hateful things might be said to her.

I wish they knew what she sounds like when she cries because kids at school told her that she doesn’t belong in this country and should go back to wherever she came from.

I wish they knew how tightly she clings to me over and over, asking “Daddy, are you sure Trump can’t send me back? How do you really know for sure?”

I wish they knew the agony of knowing that for at least the next four years, the world is a far more dangerous place for her, simply because she’s not white.

I wish they knew the twisted joy I experienced over realizing that her language disabilities might be an asset to her for these next few years, because maybe, just maybe, she won’t understand some of the words that people will say to her.

I wish they knew the panic of realizing she’ll be dating soon, and that this era of her life will exist under a president who has normalized sexual assault, and where Christian leaders she should be able to trust for guidance, dismissed and explained away this behavior in order to grasp political power.

I wish they knew the burn in my stomach that feels like I swallowed battery acid when I read white supremacists and KKK leaders say the election of Trump was the “greatest night of their life,” because that means the election of Trump was one of the worst nights of hers.

I wish they knew what it felt like to read the many horrific testimonies coming out of America in the past 24 hours. I wish they knew the feeling I get as I read each story of people of color being harassed and threatened while pumping gas, while walking down the street, or just minding their own business, and realize that these people– now emboldened by Trump– will now feel far more permission to harm my child.

 I wish they knew the stress and torment of knowing that I can only protect her so much, that my white privilege doesn’t extend to her, and that there will come a day when I’m not going to be there to protect her from the racism and xenophobia that was normalized and endorsed with a Trump vote. I’m just praying that when it does happen to her again, it will be with words and not physical violence.

I know that day is a matter of when, not if, and I wish they knew what it feels like to preemptively beg God to have mercy.

 I wish they knew the devastation of realizing that the very nation I sacrificed for and gave a decade of my life to, is not the nation I thought it was.

I wish they knew the disappointment, heartbreak, and feeling like you gave so much in order to make the country better, only to experience the betrayal of living in a country that’s not safe for my own child to live in.

I wish they knew the dilemma of having your child ask you which family members support Trump, because she wants to know exactly who is betraying her– because she wants to know which family members stood up for her, and which ones did not.

I wish they knew what it felt like to play dumb in that moment so she’d never know for sure.

And most of all, I wish they knew that if my daughter were white, my list of fears would be infinitely less– because the election of Donald Trump didn’t make the world a more dangerous place for white kids.

We have post-election grief, because the election of Donald Trump made our worlds less safe in a way that you will never understand or experience.

We are in the days of Trump’s America, and my white family and friends will probably never get it.

 I probably never would have gotten it either. But as I sit here and look at the world around me through the eyes of my wonderful child, I do.

 And I’m grieved in the deepest parts of my spirit that this has come to pass, and that so many around me contributed to it.

unafraid 300Dr. Benjamin L. Corey is a public theologian and cultural anthropologist who is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with graduate degrees in the fields of Theology and International Culture, and holds a doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also the author of the new book, Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, which is available wherever good books are sold. www.Unafraid-book.com.

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