To the white women in my life who voted to reelect the President:
I know you well enough now. We have laughed and cried together. We stayed up many late nights when we were young to talk about the meaning of life. I have shared many glasses of wine with you (when I used to be fun). You are my confidantes, and we’ve been sounding boards for each other on our marriages and raising our children.
You were my roommate in college. You stood right beside me when my desk and my door in our dorm room was covered in swastikas. I know your hearts are kind. You are the women I have refused to unfollow or block from my social media accounts despite the algorithms attempts, and the (countless) people telling me to do so. Your children’s faces and your growing families are not something I ever want to miss.
You were never shy or ashamed of your political views. Those who were caught off guard by the numbers just haven’t been listening. I’ve heard the media call you embarrassed of your politics and your beliefs as hidden. They say you are the silent Trump voter. I heard you loud and clear, though. Maybe, they haven’t wanted to hear you.
I understand why you voted as you did. You voted for what was in the best interests of your family. I would expect you to do so. I did the same. I voted for my mother, Mother Earth, and for her children who are in same-sex relationships. I voted for my brothers and sisters, who I believe have been discriminated against for their race or their religious beliefs. This does not make either of us right or wrong, nor better or worse than the other. Rather, it says our view of the world we live in is different.
I know you are not racist, selfish, privileged, or a sycophant. I will not point a finger at you or scold you for not seeing the world the same as me. I will, however, tell you it is hard not to do so. It is easier to call you those names and say your world views are dangerous. I must admit when I saw the election map turning red, I cried and shouted evil names at each one of you. That was easy. Realizing there is more work to do, to bring our ideals closer together, and to better understand each other—that is the hard part.
It was the simple solution to ask the university to relocate the young girl who had painted my dorm room with swastikas. Everyone, especially my family, was worried for my safety. But, in hindsight, I am not sure if ostracizing her was of any benefit—neither for her nor for myself. It may have been better for us to find commonality—learn to meet each other, emotionally. And, maybe her beliefs would have been altered, even slightly.
It may sound radical or unwise, but I wish I could have forgiven her then. I wish I could have shown her how much we are alike.
Nelson Mandela taught us this and I believe, he, more than anyone, knew that change happens slowly. He believed that the hearts and minds of people can shift once they feel heard and understood. And, that above all we must trust that the spirit of another is inherently good.
We live in a time that expects progress to occur overnight. But, we aren’t computers, or mainframes, or algorithms. We are humans and our beliefs and our behaviors don’t change automatically. We can not force people to transform their thinking into ours.
We learn through making mistakes and from being open to new ideas—not from being shunned. We can only embrace what is important to another when the environment encourages us to want to hear, see, and relate to their experiences.
I say then, to all the white women in my life who voted differently than me, I love you just the same. I will not vilify you. I am listening and I always will. I hope you will do the same for me.
I hope we can drown out the powerful voices that tell us to delete each other from our friend’s list, our contacts, and ultimately our lives. I pray our viewpoints will move closer together, and I pray for the patience and the compassion to make this happen.