Since the election, a lot of optimistic people have been trying to reassure everyone: It’s going to be OK.
Depends on your definition of OK.
President-elect Trump is quite a predicament for people, like myself, who are optimistic and want to lift up those around us. We want to spread joy and humor, as well as offer our reassurance — that things will be OK. Unfortunately, white men, like me, don’t get to tell everyone: It’s going to be OK.
Trump never threatened us.
To be sure, his presidency threatens white men as part of the threat he poses for all of society — such as to the environment, the fragile geopolitical fabric, the sickest among us and the middle- and lower-socioeconomic classes.
But white men aren’t who Trump has specifically attacked and insulted.
We white men are not in a position to come out after this election and tell women, minorities, immigrants, LGBTQs, disabled — even our children — that: “It will be OK.” Not even if we believe it. We did not spend the last year under attack by a white man running for president.
America needs time. We all need to give hugs and be hugged. For everyone in my life — men, women, minority, Jewish, young and old — everyone just needed to talk. I needed to talk as well.
But those conversations cannot end with the conclusion that we’ll be OK.
Will we? I don’t know. Nobody knows.
What I do know is that it’s not any more OK to sexually assault a woman today than it was last month. It’s not OK to tell women that they don’t control their bodies, or cannot make private health decisions with their physicians. It’s not OK to treat blacks like our white-dominated society has done for hundreds of years (and still does). It’s not OK to turn away families fleeing a war zone. It’s not OK to mock the disabled.
If Gov. Matt Bevin, Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell roll back Obamacare and kick millions of Americans off their health insurance — including 440,000 Kentuckians off of Medicaid — they will not be OK. If they ignite a war with Iran; If they don’t support the Paris Agreement along with 192 other countries; If they tell the LGBTQ community who to marry or which public restrooms to use — it will not be OK.
It’s not OK for Trump, or Mike Pence, or McConnell, or Paul Ryan, or Newt Gingrich or Rudy Guliani to scare our children to tears, turn them against each other in classrooms and on playgrounds or allow them to think that the girls are not equals, are not worthy or any less-qualified to be president.
None of it is OK, or forgivable.
The other thing that is not OK is for us to get complacent, think we’re wrong and accept hatred, racism and bigotry. It is not OK for women to be treated any less than equal — in the workplace, in the home, on the street or in conversation. It’s up to us to not forget this emotive loss, and be ready to fight every instance of people trying to rollback the progress we’ve made.
It is our responsibility to respond to Trump — who incited his followers, and whose his election reaffirmed their delusional entitlement to harass, assault and otherwise abuse others.
Like the man in Crestwood who pulled into a gas station behind a black woman, and yelled at her to get out of the way because, he said, America’s white again.
Like the racist pastor from Bullitt County who thought it was funny to depict President Obama as an ape, and then was elected to the state House.
Like when Bevin tells us, “We’re going to return to the true Judeo-Christian principles that this nation was founded on. We’re not going to be apologetic for the values that made this state and this nation great,” or “people are going to [have] incentive to be, you know, traditional families with a mother and a father raising their children.”
It’s OK to be sad, angry and upset. And it’s OK to protest. But it’s not OK to forget these emotions in two years, and two years after that. It is not OK for us to accept anything less.
I think we realize that now, and, for that, I am optimistic.