I have thought very long and very hard about whether or not to address recent events in both the US and UK. I’ve been wrestling with the best way to broach the subject, should I write a blog post or should I do a segment on the podcast? How can I ensure what I say will add to the conversation and not simply be a shout of outrage among many, raising the volume but perhaps saying nothing to help.
I’ve decided that I cannot remain silent on my blog. This is a blog about my experiences as an American, a US citizen in the UK and the past few months since the election have been filled with apprehension, devastation, resignation, and finally determination. It has been omnipresent in my mind and as such, it is very much worth a post.
Since, June and the referendum on the EU, I have felt the change in the world. What I felt that morning when I woke up to the news was disbelief. It wasn’t until that moment that I realised I never thought the vote would go to leave. (And let’s be clear it was a narrow margin.) I felt sadness for my UK and European friends. What I felt for myself was worry. Intense worry. This changed the way I viewed the world and what was possible in the world. Selfishly I suppose, I looked at this vote in the context of my own country’s upcoming election. All bets were off. If this happened here, what could happen in November?
I sent in my absentee ballot. I remember that day vividly. I filled out my ballot, doubled checked all the instructions and headed out to the post office. There were several people in line. When I got up to the counter, the woman behind the plexi-glass asked me if the contents were valuable. She was asking for customs. I said, “Well, it’s my ballot for the US election.” A voice from behind me said, “That’s worth more than gold.” I turned and smiled. All of a sudden the normally reserved British strangers were talking to each other and to me excitedly. They asked if I’d been able to see the election coverage they asked whether it was easy to vote from overseas, they worried about the outcome. I told all of them that day that I had their back. I left feeling uplifted. I was voting for more than myself and my friends and family back home. I was voting for those people in the post office, my colleagues at the uni, my friends around the world.
The morning after the election was my 33rd birthday. I woke and immediately checked on the results. It was like being punched in the stomach. I bawled. For days. I was inconsolable. I went through the stages of mourning. I don’t exaggerate. Here I was, thousands of miles from home and it felt like the world I was living in was unrecognisable. I had to reorder my entire view of what I thought of the world. I was and still am bolstered by the fact that the popular vote went the way it did. You are still more likely to run into someone who did not vote for the current administration than you are someone who did.
In the months since then, I’ve come to realise that that pain I felt and still feel, it’s miniscule compared to the way my black friends, LGBTQ friends, and Muslim friends feel every day. That fear, revulsion, and distrust, it’s a drop in the ocean to what they go through every minute of every day. I felt a bit of the shield of my privilege fail, that was all. Only a bit. Those that deal with these feelings every day are true heroes.
So what do I do? I am thousands of miles from home while home is being deconstructed into an unrecognisable landscape based on fear, hatred, and narcissism. Well, I’ve struggled to answer that question for the past couple weeks. Despite the distance, I can still contact my representatives and of course there is signal boosting. I continue to read books that give me a better understanding of issues that my privilege protects me from. I do what I can to support my friends back home on the front lines who are going to marches and rallies. I will continue to do what I can from here. The other thing I can do, and it doesn’t seem like much or nearly enough, is continue to podcast and to write. Continue to try to bring other perspectives to light. I will continue to work on my PhD and to advocate for activism in museum and heritage sites.
There is good in this world. I have seen it. I have met amazing people all over the world from different faiths, of different colours, from different classes, and it has not made me more afraid. It has bolstered my belief in humanity. It has made me realise that the only response to what is happening is to resist hatred, ignorance, and intolerance.
And so lovely Reader, thank you for being part of this journey and I urge you to get involved and ensure that the world we live in is one that has no walls, no hate, and is filled with love.