I force myself to read the accounts. The articles about sexual assault, violence against people of color and native people, the election. I force myself to read status after status update – from people outraged at the thought of one president to people outraged at the thought of another. I watch the hate spew. I want to turn it off. But I don’t. Because my radical act in response to oppression is to be present. To be here now. When I think of what might happen in our country over the next 24 hours, I am nauseous. I do not recall ever being AFRAID in an election. Afraid for my friends of color. Afraid for my Native brothers and sisters. Afraid for the LGBT Community, for women, for my transgender partner. Afraid for my children, especially my daughter, who has not yet had her pussy grabbed or her innocence stolen. I pray she never will. I see a friend post that she is fearful in her home, fearful in her neighborhood, fearful in her town: because she is a person of color. And I let her words roll over me, filling me. I read account after account of women coming forward to their spouses, their therapists, their family members, triggered violently by this election. I deal with the triggers myself. I have had nightmares for weeks now, my body remembering trauma long past while I process the stories of others and the feelings of being unsafe. I know that dozens of transgender people have been murdered this year in the US, not even taking into account the ones who were beaten, raped and threatened. Simply for being who they are. I am fearful of my loved ones being on that list. Last night, I drove home in the dark, and saw two joggers out still exercising. It is very dark and I’m concerned for their safety. They both wore hoodies. Then I see that they were both white. I breathe a sigh of relief thankful that these strangers are likely not in danger of being shot tonight, imagining that my gaze holds them safe. Imagining that my prayer holds safe those I can’t see in front of me, who were not born with the privilege of pale skin. Breathing a prayer for people of color who are out tonight. Daily I see around me people of color walking around eyes alert. Our neighborhood block party held last week had no people of color at it. None. I want to ask why, but I think deep down I know: It is the same reason there were no LGBT people there. We are afraid. We are all afraid, and we retreat to our safe spaces. Then our safe spaces are burned. Or shot up. Or shut down. Or surrounded by police.
I attended a 2-day event around social justice the week before last. At the event, Dr. Heather Hackman invites us to meditate and breathe deeply. She invites us to ground ourselves. And she says:
“The present moment is the only moment we have the power to act and so it is vital that we ‘be here’ in order to engage in [social] justice work… it speaks truth to our connection and it is a radical act to be embodied in the face of oppression.”
So I am here. Now. I bear witness. I wait and I breathe in and out. I ground myself. And I hold onto hope. Because hope is that thing that sustains me.