…now that you have it, what are you going to do with it?
My parents, some of questionable sanity, instilled a sense of obligation in me at a young age. Confronted at the age of four with anti-Semitism by the family up the street, my father (the sane one), showed me how to manage bigotry in one sentence and a door slam. Both my father and my stepfather taught me that it is my moral obligation as a Jew to ensure all minorities, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or any other category, are safe from harm.
Throughout my life, I have seen and experienced prejudice, discrimination and overt racism directly and indirectly: at school, at work, during my leisure time, while participating in the most mundane activities or the most critical. It is not dramatic when someone says these experiences can be traumatic and terrifying. When your concept of safe spaces are corrupted, life does become unbearable.
When I speak up, when I interrupt, I fear people hear the words and the voice of a crazed individual ranting on a street corner. Yet, if I don’t, I wonder “who will?” So I do. I do me. As I was raised. As I was inspired by my father, my hero, one of my best friends. And I know I am not alone. I am so fucking blessed to count amazing, brave and bold people as my friends. Men and women who stick their necks out every day to stop injustice and make this hellscape a better place for the benefit of others and not themselves.
As I watch the election returns trickle in, I sit in awe. Of all we have been taught, of all we have learned, the path we are, as a nation, choosing to go down is one of hate and fear. One of intolerance and exclusion. One of complete and total lack of regard for our fellow human beings. As a society, we have committed to dismissing the pain of others. As a society, we have dedicated ourselves to perpetuating stereotypes, false information and lies. And for whose benefit and what cause? To satisfy fear and ignorance. For it is much easier to hide behind the cloak of intolerance than it is to confront our bias, own our weaknesses and grow as people.
Every single man, woman and child in this country, citizen or non, deserves better than what is unfolding right now. This is not the “change we need.” This isn’t the punishment we deserve for our bad behavior, either. This is, simply put, bullshit.
To the deplorables, the leaders and the followers, this is yours now. The responsibility. The accountability. The time for bluster has passed. The time for action has arrived. You must now prove to every single person you are not the bigot you claim you aren’t. You must now prove to every person that you are, indeed, human. You must now earn our respect.
Your margin of victory is small so don’t think of this as a referendum or a free pass. Our black lives still matter. Our safety in public toilets still matters. Our freedom to follow whatever religion (or none at all) is still ours, per The Constitution. The Supreme Court has ruled our same sex couples can get married. You don’t have to like or approve of these basic principles but you will still have to accept them. Just as we have been living with your intolerance all of these years.
Show us you can lead by building the bridge to healing. Show us you can lead by being humble and decent. Show us you are anything but the horribly behaved example you demonstrated throughout the election. The ball is in your court. The burden has become yours.