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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

We Don’t Know What This Means for Us


Dear EM,
I am afraid. As someone with a disability, this election feels very personal, and I am scared because my identity has been insulted and devalued — just like so many others. We are confused and nervous for the future and we feel like we have to put on a brave face and that is just too hard. What do we do?
—Scared and Apprehensive

Dear Scared and Apprehensive,
You are not alone. You are not alone in your fear and apprehension, you are not alone in your confusion and you are not alone in feeling scared to hold the identities that you do. Over the course of this election people with disabilities have been used as a punchline; humiliated and degraded and for what? What will we get from a president who believes it is okay to openly mock us, who has demeaned veterans with PTSD, who wants to repeal the law that makes it possible for so many of us to access life-saving medical care? What will people with disabilities get from a governing body that doesn’t support Social Security, that clearly has not made us a priority?
We want to tell you that it will all be okay — that things will work themselves out, that our rights and the rights of our LGBTQ brethren, our Muslim friends, our immigrant neighbors, people of color and women will be respected. We want to be sure of all of these things and to say, with confidence, that the rest of America will show us the basic respect and human decency that we deserve, but at this moment, we can’t say this with confidence because the truth is we are just as scared as you are. We are scared for ourselves, we are scared for our friends, for our family, for our classmates and for people we don’t even know. We are scared because this election ended up being about more than a candidate or a set of policies. Ultimately, it was about fear and alienation. We are scared because a nation that is stronger together has just been divided.
If you fall into one or more of the groups of people that was systematically humiliated, degraded and devalued throughout the course of the election, it’s almost impossible not to take this personally. It’s also almost impossible to not let it get to you. When we hear over and over that we don’t matter, that we aren’t important and that we don’t deserve what we have, it becomes easy to start believing it. Now we can’t change the outcome of the election or the damage done by politicians who abuse marginalized communities for their political advantage. What we can do, and what you can do too, is to remind people that everyone has value. That this decision, and all of the hatred and discord that came with it, do not have to define us. And we can start to get down to the hard work of calling our local and state politicians and emphasizing in everyday conversations what policies like the Affordable Care Act have done for people like us — allowed us to stay on our parents healthcare plans, access health insurance regardless of preexisting conditions and keep our cost lows — invaluable measures, really.
We don’t know what to say to all of our friends and classmates other than that they matter — that they have value and that we will stand with them to defend the rights of everyone who has been threatened by the bigotry, racism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia and misogyny that seem to have become commonplace. To all of us who have been told we are less than; we are so much better than the hateful rhetoric makes us out to be. We have value.
We also want to recognize that the outcome of this election has taken a very real physical and mental toll of a great many people and that it is okay to be “not okay.” There is no shame in being afraid or upset and you should never have to hide the fact that this has hurt you on deeply personal level. Please, if you are struggling reach out for help. On Grinnell’s campus you could go to the CRSSJ or SHACS. In the wider world you could call the following numbers:
Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
The Trevor Project (LGBTQ Focused): 1-866-488-7386
Please, don’t feel like you are alone because you are not. Millions of like-minded people around the world just realized that they must come together and build each other up because they simply cannot allow this election to tear us apart. To everyone that this election has claimed; you are loved and you are valued. Please take care of yourselves.

In love, respect and solidarity, EM

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