Can you hear me? I’m sorry.
I’m sorry we laughed at your pain and desperation. I’m sorry we labeled your desire for change “ignorance.” I’m so sorry. I don’t want you to be scared or unrepresented or hurt by arrogant, elitist liberals like me. I never wanted that. I regret making you feel as though putting you down was more important than making everyone feel valued.
Can you hear that?
It is a sincere apology, begging to be accepted. It’s not a cowed message from the conquered. I am not defeated. I’m not bitter. I’m not fearful, though I know many who are and I know what my wounded heart wants to me to be.
Can you hear me? I don’t think you’re racist—
Or sexist. Or homophobic. But the candidate you voted for is and his policies will make things worse for people of any color that isn’t white. White men and women elected Trump. Maybe the percentages of who voted for whom doesn’t make you racist, sexist, and homophobic but they tout your complicity in the systems of oppression and alienation that have and will spring up.
Can you hear that?
That is why we were so sure about Hillary. We believed average Americans are, at heart, goodhearted enough to vote for everyone’s good and not just their own. I assumed you cared about the country’s well-being more than sticking it to smug, entitled, privileged liberals, but you voted for a man’s whose central appeal is a commitment to offending people. I don’t understand that, and I refuse to believe you think ignorance is virtue.
Can you hear the why in our shock? Or does it sound like snobbery still?
It could be mere jargon or leftist PC bullshit I regurgitate because of the lies the liberal media spreads about you and me and the mess of this election cycle. Tell me: am I using the wrong words? Wearing the wrong clothes? When I say “black lives matter,” why does it translate into “yours doesn’t”?
Can you hear me? I’m hurt.
I’m so hurt that you would support a person who talks about me like I don’t deserve to be in the room. Like I am only worth the weight and shape of my breasts, the curve and tightness of my ass. Like it means nothing if someone assaults me because the sanctity of my being has less value than the desires of the person who wants me. How could you? Am I the price you want to pay for the sake of a hypothetical child’s right to live once conceived?
Can you hear us?
We’re mourning for the families broken by war and rejected at our borders. We lash out with sarcasm because we don’t know how else to deal with people wanting to send our family members and friends “back from where they came.” We thought America was a place of opportunity and—for those willing to work hard and coexist with others—welcome. We thought we were on a path to make Muslims and immigrants and the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities just as welcome as the white boy down the street. We thought we belonged with you.
We weep because we were wrong, and we weep because we desperately hope that we’re not.
Will you hear us?
We—Muslims, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, women, minorities, victims of abuse, veterans whose POW status was derided—are watching in horror as messages of nonchalance are plastered onto social media. “God is in control!” my Evangelical friends blithely post, conveniently whitewashing that the same statement applies to Rwanda in the summer of 1994. Calls for reconciliation and tolerance abound and they are good things, but they can also be silencing things. They are songs that can be played loudly enough to drown our voices.
We hear the angry voices just like you did. We know now what it feels like to be cornered, alone, hamstrung by our electoral process. We hear you now, but do you hear us? Do you hear the sorrow that tempers our anger and the weariness that seeks to overcome our activism? Do you glory in that? Do you love us still?
Elaine Schnabel (’11) spent her twenties traveling, blogging, and earning various master’s degrees. Now earning her PhD at the University of North Carolina in organizational communication, Elaine researches and writes at the intersection of religion and communication. You can find her blogging at Religious (Not Crazy).