by Jessica McCloud
You are NOT moving to Canada.
Trust me, I get it.
I've thrown up a few times now.
The first was when the election was called at 1:30 am CTS. I was shaking uncontrollably and I just dropped to my knees and wept and then threw up. I cleaned it up and went back to crying and living in this shocking new reality that Donald billionaire reality TV star (disgusting pos imo) business man Trump is America's new president. The second time was a few hours later after breakfast with my young children, when I got a report of afriend's daughter being told "Trump is president, you're going back to where you belong," after which herhijab was tugged on by some stupid high school boys. My friend's are US citizens who are Muslim. They're daughter was born in Michigan. Also, it's not really necessary to add, but just in case you're wondering, the boys were white.
After that second throw up, in my still-no-sleep-on-stage-two-of-the-grief-process stupor, I decided to take my children swimming up at the swim school (which helped by the way but was probably the first time I've been to a kid-centered place that felt like attending a wake). Everyone who was there–and I do mean every single person who works and was attending the family swim–was visibly tired, broken, sad, and scared, but we all floated our way to a midday place of mild happiness and our babies had fun. I was able to just "be" for a moment and not so much think about things.
Until I was driving home from the pool and a much needed French fries and milk shakes adventure. I threw on my good ole WBEZ (I miss my old workplace now more than ever btw) and listened to the news sound bytes from the day. I started to think about my friend’s daughter and got weepy for her. Her new reality is that she is now scared to go to school. In AMERICA.IN 2016. She is a smart and wonderful human being that is SCARED TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL. This is not okay. And I was not okay as I was driving us home with both my young children now asleep in the back. Then I hear a news piece coming up and an interview with the President-elect. It's him speaking about his first one-hundred days in office and the "removal of gun safety zones" came up. And he began talking about "of course schools, especially schools."
I started to shake again and I could feel what little French fries and shake I had been able to get down start to move around in my stomach. And the water started falling out of my eyes. And my babies were asleep soundly in the back. So I pulled over at the shell gas station on McCormick and I threw up on their lovely little grassy knoll with seasonal mums. I hacked up all those tasty Edzo Loaded French Fries and spicy chocolate shake. And I cried and cried. And snot dribbled out of my nose. And my babies slept soundly in the car. And I started to dry heave. I admit I sounded like I was having a hard time breathing. A few seconds later an older gentlemen drove over near me, but not too near, and rolled down his window to ask if I was okay. I looked up at him and through a snot bubble that settled over my mouth I said "no, no I'm not. This is all not okay right now." His eyes started to get a little watery and he got out of his car and came to hug me. It didn't seem weird at all that I was hugging this complete stranger who was a good foot taller than me. I needed a fucking hug by that point.
After I got myself somewhat composed and grabbed a napkin to hand the gentleman so he could clean my snot and tears off of his coat, I took a deep breath and said "thank you." The man replied "it's going to be okay, we will get through this." I felt myself wanting to cry and snot heave again but this time I took a deep breath and I said "we have a lot of work to do." The man agreed and told me to take care of myself and "take care of those babies in there, they are our future," and left. We never exchanged names. We were just two people in a moment both choosing compassion.
I'm happy to report that I've gotten some sleep finally and I'm now on stage six of the grieving process: action. From this point forward, for my children and yours, I am doing everything I can to combat racism, bigotry, and sexism, and to make sure our most vulnerable, marginalized, and scared Americans feel supported. I'm going to volunteer more than I have been. I'm going to keep posting stuff on my social media sites and not censor my content and not apologize for it. I'm going to listen to those who need to be listened to right now and in the days-weeks-months-years ahead. I'm going to keep raising my children the way I already have been, with empathy-compassion-patience-kindness-and above all, the truth. I'm going to be an online and in-person support for kids and families that are experiencing bullying. I will march where and when I can so long as it's safe for my small children. When I can't march I will donate funds or time and energy elsewhere. Iwill help mobilize as best I can for those that need mobilizing or convincing. I will confront those who are harassing others. I will stand up for others who cannot. I will sit and listen to those who voted differently from me and come from a place of love. I will bear witness to what is happening in my little corner of the world and beyond.
I'm not going to operate from my ego and base emotions when it comes to talking and working with others who have a differing opinion than me. I am going to make myself visible in the public as a supporter and agent of change because I am fortunate to have that choice. Yes, I'm a woman. But I am a white woman and I AM afforded certain luxuries when it comes to existing in public spheres. Acknowledging this is not making this a "race thing," it's being fucking honest with myself and others.
I am not going to move my family to Canada, though I know Vancouver is lovely this time of year (wink wink). So please people Stop. Stop saying you're moving to Canada. You are not going to move to Canada. You are needed here, on American soil. You need to push up the proverbial shirt sleeves and Get. To.Work. The election is over. Only half of our entire country voted altogether. Then that half was split right down the center (if by center we mean that over 400,000 people voted for Clinton). Our country is divided, that is obvious, but that is not all we are. We are not just this one election. The disgusting behaviors I’ve seen emerge during and in the wake of this latest election are not who WE ARE. We are not just fear and anger and ignorance. We are not bigotry, anti-LGBTQA, anti-immigrant, anti-religious, anti-veteran, sexism, and rape culture, and celebrity worship. We are a good, strong, caring, passionate people.
Don't read me wrong here, I am not ignorant to what is and has been happening for years and years and years and years. I am the daughter of a severely mentally ill mother who grew up on Welfare and had a terrible father experience. I have been on my own since I was 19 and have been making my own way and my own life ever since. I grew up in small town Indiana, then big town Los Angeles, then back to small town Illinois, back out to small town California, finally settling for a bit here in Chicago proper since ‘99. I've volunteered, marched, been arrested, been beaten, donated time, donated money, stood up to injustice, stood up to bigots and hatred. I've tried to lead a good and decent life and I'm now trying to raise good and decent children.
Part of that good raising will be taking a stand during this time in our country's history and being witness, chronicler, and active participant in the reshaping of our country. So you see, you cannot just run away and move to Canada. You are needed here with me, with us, to get this work done.
If you are looking for ways you can help or trying to figure out what you can do, here are some good places to start. If you have any suggestions for other organizations, please leave them in the comments below.
American Civil Liberties Union
Boys & Girls Club of America
Center for Reproductive Rights
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund
Indian Country Grassroots Support
Naral Pro-Choice America
NAACP Legal Defense Fund
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
National Immigration Forum
National Organization for Women
National Women's Law Center
Native American Rights Fund
NextGen Climate Action
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
Refugee One (my personal and local org that I donate time and money)
Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press
Reproductive Health Access Project
Southern Poverty Law Center
Young Center for Immigrant Children's Rights (also a good local chapter here in Chicago)