By Geila Rajaee
I’ve spent the better part of this day, this week with tightness in my chest and fear in my heart. I’m not sure what is happening in our country but I know that every day the level of fear I wake up with is increasing until one day I’m certain my heart will shatter.
I cannot not talk about the election. I cannot ignore the fact that there is a chance of a president who has not hidden his feelings of hatred and disgust of people of color. I cannot pretend that rhetoric that shames and minimizes the effects (or, at its worst is permissive and in support) of assault and harassment against women hasn’t affected me. I cannot close my ears, eyes, and heart enough for me pretend that systemic issues of privilege and power hurt not only the “least of these,” the widows and the orphans, or other vulnerable populations but hurts everyone.
I cannot pretend that it is going to be okay.
Some of you may have the privilege of living beyond this election cycle and having nothing change. You are not going to worry about your fate, the fate of your family, your community, and those with whom you ally yourself. You may have the privilege to live your life just the way you did before. And that, my sisters and brothers, is a right that you did not earn but inherited through systems that have placed more value on some people’s lives than others.
But some of us – well, we are going to spend a lot more time thinking about ways to keep ourselves safe physically, emotionally, and mentally.
There are minorities and vulnerable groups in our country that every single day in America are required – required – to think about issues of safety. My gut feeling is that they, like me, are bracing themselves for what could happen on November 8th. We already fear racial profiling, the threat of violence, and imprisonment or death.
Those are realities. Not dreams, not anxieties – reality.
I am terrified.
How else do you share that feeling? How do I explain to people that the pressure in my chest is about preparing myself for the acceleration of threats of violence and preparing for new ones? How do I say that because of my gender, ethnic background and physical appearance, I wonder just what people are responding to when they talk to me?
This isn’t about politics… it’s about mutual respect and common decency. Two things that, honestly, our country profoundly lacks.
My fear is not just for me and my person but extends to my sisters and brothers within all communities of color, especially the black community, Muslims, LGBTQA persons, and anyone who might find themselves on the wrong side of a stereotype or a gun.
Hatred has been brewed. It’s been stirred and mixed into the story of our history. It’s not the first time and likely not the last. But you can be assured that our cowardice in the face of critique, in the reality of knowing our sisters’ and brothers’ oppression and yet actively supporting it or doing nothing, is not something that I think that God will look kindly upon.
“Ah, you who join house to house, who add field to field,
until there is room for no one but you, and you are left to live alone in the midst of the land!
The Lord of hosts has sworn in my hearing:
Surely many houses shall be desolate, large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant. […]
Ah, you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Ah, you who are wise in your own eyes, and shrewd in your own sight! […] who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of their rights!”
“Therefore the anger of the Lord was kindled against his people, and he stretched out his hand against them and struck them; the mountains quaked, and their corpses were like refuse in the streets. For all this his anger has not turned away, and his hand is stretched out still.”
Isaiah 8:8-9, 20-21, 23, 25