An Open Letter to My Friends Who Voted for Trump

For any of you who have read my fiction, you know I don’t like telling linear stories.

I’ve struggled with this while writing this blog, as I’ve felt compelled to break my travel narratives up into blog-sized bites. To make storylines that make sense. An arc across India and Asia.

But my timeline has been disrupted by events beyond my control. And besides, time never moves in a straight line anyway, and neither do my stories. There is always some piece of the past that makes itself known, some dream of the future.

I am writing this in a tea house in Myanmar. I will go to Vietnam soon.

I still have so many stories to tell you—from India, Korea, Nepal. Those will come, I promise.

But just not now.

Trump’s election and the ensuing fear and grief I (and my community) felt have derailed me. I’ve spent hours on social media, sharing together, raging together, trying to understand, to educate, to advocate while still loving all humanity. Still trying to bridge the divides among us.

I don’t always know how to do so while still speaking out against the violent oppression that is happening. I don’t know how to explain to you how the leaders Trump has drawn together to aid in his transition and potentially lead his administration scare me just as much—if not more—than Trump himself.You may say he’s told those doing violence in his name to “Stop it.” And yet, he seems poised to do more systemic violence himself by appointing a white supremacist and ringleader of the alt-right as his Chief Strategist and a man refused a position as a federal judge in the 1980s because he was deemed too racist. Multiple of his leaders, including the Vice President-Elect, have histories of verbally and legislatively attacking the LGBTQ community. Trump has released a “New Deal” plan for “the Blacks” that includes increased policing—which will likely only increase the violence done to that community. He has promised to deport millions of immigrants, breaking up families and communities instead of dedicating himself to creating a path to citizenship for these folks who have come to our country because of the greatness it promises. His top advisors have described Japanese internment camps as a precedent for his plan for registering Muslims

You tell me to give him a chance. And as he started backtracking on some of his campaign promises last week, I let myself entertain a glimmer of hope.

But in light of his transition team and proposed Cabinet appointments and his various plans, make no mistake: Donald Trump is dangerous. Dangerous to many, but especially to all the groups he’s ever insulted. Dangerous to me.

You may be a white person who voted for Trump. A person of color, even. A Christian. You wanted a shakeup. You wanted him to fix the economy. To make your life better.

And he may. Or he may not.

But give a thought to those you’ve chosen to leave behind. (Even if you didn’t think of us, that erasure is its own choice.)

If you are, indeed, not racist, sexist, homophobic, etc., you have helped elect someone who is (or, for those of you who are deniers, at the least, Trump won using racist and sexist rhetoric and bringing with him an anti-LGBTQ VP).

And in doing so, you have caused me harm.

This doesn’t mean I hate you. I won’t unfriend you.

But as his team’s policies roll in that harm me and those I love—based solely on our race, sexual orientation, gender identity, ethnicity, faith—believe me, I will call on your not-racist, not-sexist, not-homophobic voices. I will ask you to hold your candidate accountable.

And if you don’t, I’ll know where you stand.

And because of that, I’ll know where I stand.

So, if you want to make America great again, let’s make it great. Let’s make it a place where our diverse voices are recognized and celebrated, where our right to assemble and to free speech are lauded, where our free press is upheld. Where all are created and treated equally, and where hate will not be tolerated. Where immigrants are welcomed into the arms of a nation largely made up of immigrants. Where we own up to our history of genocide and oppression. Where we work together for economic justice. For racial justice. For safety that includes all Americans—from gay Latinx men dancing at a nightclub to a black child playing with a toy in a park to a woman newscaster who’s afraid of a sexually predatory boss to elementary school kids simply going to school to learn.

And if your version of Trump’s slogan, indeed, doesn’t really mean “Make America White Again,” I hope you will join me in turning this vision into a reality. Because, as your fellow American, I will personally do everything in my power to make America great. I will raise my voice. I will make calls and I will protest. I will speak out until I lose my voice. I will not relent.

It’s my duty as an American.

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