I would like to say that there was a noticeable cosmic shift on Wednesday, November 9, 2016. That the day was remarkably different from the eight years that preceded it. But that would be false.
My wife still went to work at the same staunchly conservative company that she’s been working at for the past 12 years with the same “good ol’ boys” in positions of power. My 16-year-old daughter still went to school with the same young white boys who made “jokes” like, “How long does it take a Black woman to take out the trash?” “Nine months.” And I still ran with my running club with white (and white-aspiring) conservatives and liberals who talked of their struggles going through customs after family trips in Europe, driving off in their shiny new cars to take their children to horseback riding lessons and private tutoring.
For the past three elections I would stay up to watch the results come in until the President was announced. This year I decided to turn in early. This year I chose not to be a masochist.
The quick blow to the gut that many liberal white Americans felt on Election Day had been a slow and painful affliction for me. Years of piercing stares, awkward conversations, and uncomfortable circumstances have been piling up in my memory bank. I live in a fairly conservative county in south Florida where pickup trucks on steroids drive through the streets with Confederate and American flags strapped to the back. Of course those are the obvious ones to spot. I’m more likely to work and socialize with people who smile and engage me in conversation, but will spout ignorant racial rhetoric behind their computer screens. I’m certain that I know more Trump voters than I do Hillary voters, though none of the Trump supporters voiced their allegiance.
No matter what goes on outside the walls of our house, we make sure to remind our girls of their power…
The day after the election my best friend called me to see how I was doing. He’s a gay Jamaican man who grew up in south Florida and left the state as soon as we graduated high school together. He’s been trying to get me to move for the past 18 years with his persistence growing in strength since the death of Trayvon Martin.
After our brief conversation about our concern for one another and wondering what we were going to do now, I hung up the phone with renewed and passionate motivation to pick up and move. I reopened the bookmarks I saved on my internet browser that listed the best places for black people and gay people to live outside the United States. There was never a list for the intersection of the two so I was forced to create my own queer black expat algorithm. But I was faced with an inevitable truth that I couldn’t escape. There is no oasis for me and my family. There is no utopia that would allow me and my wife to live out our lives in full acceptance of our intersectionality. Black. Queer. Women.
After coming up short on my “get outta dodge” list, I took a step back: Am I reacting out of haste? Why the hell should I go anywhere? My family (like many other black and brown families) built this country, and when the shit hit the fan, my relatives, both distant and close, stayed and fought. So I decided to follow in their footsteps. I would continue to live my life and not make any changes or adjustments so that others could feel comfortable. My locs will still hang low down my back. I will still wear my wedding ring and correct people when they say “husband.” My wife and I will still attend company events and never make ourselves small or hide the fact that we are a loving married couple and not roommates or close friends. My everyday life is in and of itself a political statement.
As far as my children are concerned my 3-year-old daughter is too young to understand what is going on. Her world still centers around Sesame Street games and all things pink. My 16 year old is still grappling with the fact that her rose-colored glasses have been shattered and her happy bubble has been burst. While my wife and I have had very honest conversations with her over the years about our experiences being Black women in this world, much of her wokeness has come from the people she has considered friends. When one of her “friends” was more upset about Harambe being killed than being concerned about the mother of the young boy who had fallen in the gorilla cage, she was floored. When one of her “friends” said that if a Trump presidency brings another World War that she’s ready for it, she was pissed.
No matter what goes on outside the walls of our house, we make sure to remind our girls of their power and that they are valued despite what others may say. But I think what has given more value and credence to our words is seeing us continue to be ourselves despite any opposition that we face. While the outcome of this presidency is not what I wanted, I will not allow it to deter me from continuing to live.