Walk Loudly and Carry a Big Ass Safety Pin

The title is flippant, but my message is not.

… if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices …

I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes we must interfere. When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant. Wherever men or women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must – at that moment – become the center of the universe.  ­–Elie Wiesel

I have been trying to figure out what to say about this election since about 7 p.m. PST on Tuesday. WTF came to mind first, then OMG, and NFW, and JFC and srsly? I didn’t have the bandwidth for anything else. I shut down. I pulled the covers over my head on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. and fell into a Advil PM with a Scotch chaser coma, vaguely optimistic that this mess would sort itself out and by morning all would be right in the world.

I jerked awake five hours later. (I’d planned to say my mother’s intuition awakened me, but I have to be honest: every morning I wake up between 1 and 3 a.m. with a hot flash—Wednesday morning was no different). I reached for my phone to check on the election results and found a string of texts from my 26-year-old daughter.

Just the day before she asked me what time she should start watching the election results and what channel would be best. I assured her that she wouldn’t be able to NOT find the election results on tv starting at about 3 p.m. I loved that she asked me—and for a while I had this warm fuzzy feeling that we shared a common interest in this election. We both wanted Hillary. It was a mother-daughter feminist solidarity moment.

Except it wasn’t. I knew it wasn’t, but I so wanted it to be.

I flicked my thumb over the text notification and found these:

“I’m so scared.”
“A lot of news outlets have called the election.”
“I don’t know if I can go to work tomorrow.”
“My country hates me.”
“He’s going to try to take everything from us.”

I looked at the time stamp. 12:24.

I squinted at the clock next to my bed. 1:22

“I know” I texted. “I just woke up in a panic.”
“No words,” I added.

In the days and hours since then, life as I knew it has changed irrevocably. That instant will now forever be my “where were you when . . . ?” moment, taking its place on the tragedy timeline along with the space shuttle Challenger explosion, Oklahoma City, and 9/11.

I cannot find my equilibrium—I am disoriented and numb and I am afraid, deeply afraid. I am afraid for my daughters (they are Women of Color, just in case you didn’t know—and I’m white, fyi). I am afraid for myself (I’m a lesbian). I keep thinking I should feel better this far from Tuesday, but I don’t. I can’t will myself to that place of acceptance that I keep hearing about.

Have you seen what is going on out there? The stakes are high. I knew that this election was not about my daughters and me bonding over feminism and a woman president. This election was about their lives, their safety. Their lives depended upon her winning. As a lesbian, I too face an uncertain future under a T________ regime, but if Hillary had won I could celebrate a feminist victory, a milestone knowing that I could choose to be more or less visible. My girls, my daughters, they cannot hide the color of their skin. I have always known this, and now I know it on a much deeper level. My fear has ratcheted up more in the last two years than in all of the last 20, right along with my consciousness.

I have to be honest. On Tuesday, I wanted to party. I wanted to celebrate a woman president. It didn’t occur to me in that moment that a Hillary victory would assure my daughters’ safety (well, take it back to baseline, which even in the best of times is not great). I just tried to not think about what a victory for the other side would mean (that, my friends, is an excellent example of White Privilege). I did not want to face what I knew to be true. I just closed my eyes and hoped. Really hard. But even though we all wished and wished, she lost anyway.

Folks, I don’t think safety pins and #GoHigh are going to be enough.

Honest to god. Fucking safety pins. Subtlety isn’t working people. We need to be STEPPING IN, INTERVENING, MARCHING. DEMANDING. USING OUR WHITE PRIVILEGE. We cannot roll over and give that asshat a chance. He doesn’t deserve a chance. We don’t live in a country where criminals are president. Oh. Wait. We don’t generally find it acceptable for known criminals and suspected rapists to run for office. Oh. Wait. Cuz, see, we kinda do live in that country. You see where I’m going with this? Are you following me? We let him run for president! Why? We all just hoped he’d go away.

I love Hillary. I do. I really, really, really wanted her to win. I wanted to see that goddamned glass ceiling shatter once and for all. I wanted women to win. I wanted my ideals to win: justice for all, healthcare for all, decency, diversity, inclusion (and I hoped a tiny bit that she might forgive student loans cuz for sure Bernie would have). And I didn’t think for a minute that Hillary could deliver anything close to what she said she would, but I knew that she would try.

We needed her to win because while Michelle Obama’s speech was totally motivating when she delivered it, it’s lost a bit of its luster in the interim. They’ve gone so low that I don’t think going high is going to be good enough. Obama has gone out of his way to reach across the aisle. I love him, too, but he’s been too conciliatory. He needed to go low more often. But, I get why he didn’t. I understand. These people on the other side are fucking scary.

Here, check them out. You be the judge. Am I right?

Kids:              I can’t pick. Scroll through here to see for yourself:


Women:        https://twitter.com/ajplus/status/797265227649691648

Men:              https://twitter.com/ShaunKing/status/795396842833985541

We would all do well to heed Elie Wiesel’s words posted at the beginning of this blog:  words of warning. We can’t just wish and hope our way out of this mess. We have to chose sides.

I have chosen my side. Will you join me here?

3 thoughts on “Walk Loudly and Carry a Big Ass Safety Pin

  1. The courts are our only hope to slow this. Join the ACLU. They have vowed to take on the fight. Moving, angry, provocative. Vintage Helberg . I dream it’s all somehow Not So! Wake and remember why I didn’t want to wake.

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Thank you, Pam, for your honesty and your wisdom. I don’t know if what I have to say will help you or just prove that I don’t get it. To be clear, I also wanted Hillary to win. This country elected Obama president, twice, so a large segment of this country does not hate your daughters. Is that any comfort at all? This article was helpful to me on not accepting the president-elect but moving on to do the work that needs to be done. It has a comedic slant, especially at the beginning, which might try your patience. http://www.vox.com/first-person/2016/11/10/13580582/leslie-knope-donald-trump

  3. Thank you for busting through your fear, hanging out your heart, posting this, Pam. I’m still too numb, too lacking in equilibrium to understand more than this: We must be the the peace, each of us alone and collectively, and peace looks like something more than wearing a safety pin (which seems kinda prickly, anyway).

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