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Breaking the Legacy of Silence #22 The Aftermath | Kim Bailey Deal

Kim Bailey Deal

“How the sky holds the night,

how the trees hold the shade,

how your sleep holds your dreams,

‘til they shake you awake,

and how love holds you up,

and then chooses to break

your deep, deep down heart.”

–Mary Chapin Carpenter

“Deep, Deep Down Heart,” The Things That We Are Made Of, Lambent Light Records, 2016

There is a collective cry of mourning across our nation this week, and it echoes around the world. In my lifetime, I have never seen such a negative, foreboding, heart-rending response to a president-elect. It’s staggering.

We have cast our ballots and the winner has emerged. I won’t write the name here. I cannot grace my work with it, not now. But we all know of whom I speak.

Some have been quick to tell me that this isn’t the end of the world. They hold out hope for the future. Their admonishments of our grief are staggering. More astounding, the boastful and gleeful tell us to “suck it up” and “move on” or “get over it.”

After my initial hurt feelings and then outrage at such comments, I have come to realize there are many people out there who have no clue what it’s like to live life on the edges, or completely on the outside, of privilege and comfort.

It’s not their fault. They haven’t had the same experiences of the marginalized, disenfranchised, discriminated minority groups. Their lives have remained uninterrupted by abuse, neglect, bigotry, misogyny, and hate.

If you’ve read any of my work, within the context of this column or on my blog, you know I grew up in an alcoholic environment littered with domestic violence and drugs. You know I have four grown children, two of whom are transgender. You know I was sexually molested at age 11 by a neighbor and I was raped by an ex-boyfriend five years ago. In between, there have been countless occurrences of verbal abuse, disrespect, misogyny, and a domestic violence event that led to my obtaining a restraining order. The latter was the most any of these men have paid for their crimes and atrocities.

I’ve lost everything I’ve ever had. Two of my children won’t speak to me. One of them has a father who did everything in his power to alienate me as our son’s mother and sabotage anything good I could recover from the tumultuous relationship and subsequent divorce, which took over a year in court. He took me to court every year afterward until finally, after I had to have major surgery to remove a rare cyst on my heart, he managed to get a judge and a different attorney to win physical custody of my child. He made visitation a nightmare, interfered in everything I did with our son, and inserted himself into my life so much I felt I couldn’t breathe. With someone’s foot on your neck, it’s kind of hard to breathe—or have a voice.

I found my voice again. In the process, I’ve lost a lot of people who said they loved and supported me—that is, until I spoke or wrote a truth that pricked them and made them bleed.

What we are experiencing this week is another blow to those who have fought long and hard for equality, respect, dignity, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. For their voices to be heard.

For those of you who’ve been there, this isn’t a hard thing to wrap your head around. For those of you who haven’t—better buckle up because this ride just got bumpier.

Yes, we need change in Washington. I never disagreed with that clarion call.

But sometimes, when we seek change, we must be careful.

For instance, sometimes after a break up or a divorce. you go out and immediately start dating. You find a couple of contenders. Everything seems to be going well. You’re hearing things you’ve wanted to hear from your ex for eons and you’re smitten. You finally choose one. Well, that’s usually the rebound relationship.

Our system has no room for carefully dating and evaluating a prospective president. So, we often go by our last “relationship.”  We think, “Hey, I’ll choose someone completely different this time and it will be so much better.”

Two or four years into it we realize they are singing the same old tune as all the other lovers we’ve had. We are attracted to the same kinds of people, only we think we are choosing someone different because we tell ourselves we are, and we are blind to the small and big evidence that they likely don’t—and won’t—respect us like they should. Like we deserve to be respected.

One reason for this is we often have a lack of respect for ourselves. If, and when, we do have or gain such respect, it’s hard to maintain when someone is constantly telling us we don’t deserve it.

Another reason is we have those proverbial rose-colored glasses on in the beginnings of a relationship, even with leaders of our country.

And finally, we have an “Us vs them” mentality. It’s a human tendency to group up with like-minded people and begin an adversarial relationship with another group. I would also contend that in our patriarchal structure, fighting and pushing our way ahead of everyone else feels normalized. Not listening to others and blustering our way through feels powerful. Demeaning the other “team” feels vindicated, because after all, last year they lost the big game to us, right?

No, my choice for president did not win. I am hurt. It’s painful. I was pissed off that the winner was even running for the office because I felt someone like that didn’t deserve to be near it at all.

I still feel that way. Not only were our voices diminished, but half of our country refused to sound theirs. PERIOD. They refrained from voting FOR ANYONE. They nurtured that legacy of silence. It wasn’t their cause, so they kept quiet, sat back, and let those of us who chose to fight lose to the ever-lasting powers that be. In their defense, they say they had no dog in the fight. I say they betrayed not only us, but themselves, because they allowed a pervasive power to take back what they lost in the last eight years when President Obama took office. Worse, that power is corrupt, more than the government they already despised.

I was hoping for a shattered glass ceiling. A lot of my friends and acquaintances are as broken-hearted and disgusted by the outcome as I am.

But this time, it’s not about winning or losing. In all previous presidential races, even with President Obama—a man I was fully supportive of and passionate for the historic relevance of his taking office—I have never felt so emotionally impacted by an election result.

The reason is clear—at least for those who know what it’s like to be victimized and marginalized.

To now have a future leader of our country who has espoused and glibly incited hate, violence, discrimination, xenophobia, homophobia, and misogyny remains a shock to the system. It’s been three days, and there is no resurrection story here. Our dreams were not only stripped from us, they were shoved in our faces with contempt as the patriarchy, with the help of its little women, put its foot right back on our necks.

Well I’ve got news for you. No one will silence and oppress us again.

Many of my brothers and sisters feel the same. Our protests are not hate speech. They are cries for understanding and accountability. Cries that fall on the deaf ears of those who are still living in the status quo. The ones who say working class Americans have had it with government, so they chose someone who was radically different. What they mean is, we don’t want to continue to lose our privilege.

It is only the poorest and the lower class know how hard things truly are out there. The middle class, upper middle class, rich, and one-percenters don’t have a clue. So, when you chastise us from your place of white privilege, you better be sure you can back that game up with some empathy and compassion, or you’ll get a heap of heat for it. Minorities and women have come along way even though we have so much farther to go, and this is the pushback.

What needs to be understood, what needs to be crystal fucking clear, is that those who chose their champion chose someone who had absolutely no idea what it’s like to live paycheck to paycheck. In fact, he’s from the one-percenters. He’s been given everything by his father, learned how to manipulate and control others and the system to keep what he had, and continues to build his legacy on the broken backs and lives of men and women he’s trampled upon.

I fear for the safety and preservation of women, my children, the LGBTQ community, diversity, freedom of speech, other races and cultures here in this mixed salad of a nation. I fear for our ability to be heard because when the vote came down, we weren’t. We were admonished for having a voice, and then we were relegated to “deal with it” afterward when our voice was quashed.

Today, the news was flooded with incidents of hate speech and violence across our land. Children at an Elementary school chanted, “Build the wall!” Muslims, blacks, Mexicans, Latinos, and women were verbally intimidated by random strangers. Graffiti litters walls and buildings and vehicles with the “N” word, messages of hate, telling people to “go back to your country,” and signatures of the KKK and White Power. College students posted pics of themselves with black face in front of Trump signs. Muslim women were accosted by men and women, told to take their hijabs and “hang yourself with it.”

Some Muslim women went to school and work without their hijabs or burkas because they feared for their lives. They went against a sacred part of their culture and religion because of bullies. Bullies who now have a champion in the White House, who is surrounding himself with more bullies. They are planning to hurt us now, to make us pay for speaking against them. Rudy Giuliani promises that when he’s sworn in as the new Attorney General, he may still try to prosecute Hillary Clinton. Bannon of Breitbart News has been named Chief of Staff. Now the PE is making threats to our constitution by, yes, tweeting that the protesters against him are being incited by the media. It’s another twist of democracy, a distortion, to obliterate anyone else’s truth.

A woman and author I know via Facebook said there have been eight suicides connected with a support group she is affiliated with–since Tuesday night. A ninth life is in critical condition.

Still, many of us are not backing down.

Instead of crawling back in my safe place, I now have a higher purpose. Breaking the Legacy of Silence holds a greater call and resides in multiple dimensions now.

In the aftermath of the election, I’m dusting myself off and rising with others like me, ready to fight and press on for what should rightfully be ours, as it should be for every American citizen.

I don’t know if we will prevail. I only know I must try.

img_4953Kim Bailey Deal writes Women’s Fiction, short stories, poetry, non-fiction, and is Social Media Manager for Five 2 One Magazine. She has written two novels and is revising the first for publication. She’s published in several online literary journals and print magazines. Kim lives in her hometown of Chattanooga, TN with her husband. They have two dogs and two cats, six grown children, and five grandchildren. To connect follow at www.kimbaileydeal.net and on Twitter @kimbaileydeal