Right now is full of anger and fear.
I realize being angry without taking action doesn’t do much, and that I am not the target of these recent policies and so must make space for those who are to be heard. But I also — oh, God, I’m so furious, specifically with people I always thought I could trust.
Angry white racists, or even angry PoC whose misogyny/internalized racism/colorism/etc blinds them to what is right in front of their faces, voting for Tr**p saddens me but isn’t very surprising. Even the patriarchally driven, Islamophobic, anti-social welfare wing of the self-titled religious right going pro-Tr**p doesn’t surprise me as much as I wish it did.
What hurts — who I’m furious with — is when the people I grew up around, people in the church that helped raised me and were part of my community life, advocate for an administration that turns away refugees for hateful, xenophobic reasons on the basis that Tr**p has God’s anointing. I’m not putting that phrase in quotes because I don’t want to devalue it; my relationship with faith is often strained (to say the least), but I do still believe the idea of being chosen with love by the Creator of the universe means something. That’s why this hurts so much.
Of course, not everyone in the church is pro-Tr**p, and even the leaders (who did the advocating) weren’t exactly thrilled about him. But they advocated for him anyway, and now. Now —
— we were immigrants once. Not in the “all Americans are immigrants” way; because if you go with that I have some belated grade school history lessons about Native populations and the transatlantic slave trade for you. In Hawaii, though, we non-Native-descended residents know when our ancestors came over, because the answer is always “a few generations ago.” Our overseas origins are never that far from us.
I have a step-great-grandmother who couldn’t read or write, which I know from seeing the immigration card she signed with an X. My grandmother lost a baby brother on the boat journey to Hawaii; he had to be thrown overboard in a shoyu barrel because there was nothing and nowhere else to bury him in. My great-grandfather worked through his days under the blazing sun on a pineapple plantation. When his wife died, their daughter, my grandmother, was only seven, but he still had to work in order to feed them and keep them housed. Imagine having to sacrifice your relationship with your children so they can survive.
Then imagine that one of those children would grow up not only to have a steady income and accommodation, but to own an apartment complex. Imagine being married off at thirteen and being able, one day, to see your children graduate from college. My cousins and I are doctors, lawyers, dentists, and, uh, a Humanities researcher, only two generations removed from a twenty-one-year-old widow with a baby, hiding behind her house’s blacked-out windows during World War II, likely wondering whether the government would take her away like they did so many others who shared her racial background.
And in case we forget, our food is there to remind us. The family and community parties I grew up attending were always food-oriented — like pretty much all gatherings in Hawaii — and that was where the proof of our comingled roots really came out: in the Spam musubi, the Chinese-style noodles with Japanese fishcake, the kim chee, the mochiko fried chicken, the gau gee, the shoyu poke, the gandule rice, the pipikaula, the crab legs, the iso peanuts…we shared them and ate them all together. Each dish spoke of long histories that we couldn’t articulate in words but could invite others into via food. Even now, it’s what brings us together and keeps us going in community.
So how, then, can anyone vote against this? Conceptually we are voting against our own stomachs, which anyone from Hawaii would say was unthinkable. How can anyone advocate for a power structure attacking the love that helped us to thrive and, in many cases, to exist in the first place? What God is this who, you claim, anoints a man striking at the very core of who we are as a people? This is the God you taught me to believe in, the God whose example you said we should follow in increasing our capacity to show love and compassion. What did I, or you, or all of us misunderstand?
There’s a part of me that wants to shout at them, HOW CAN YOU LOOK INSIDE YOUR HEARTS AND SOULS AND STILL SAY THIS IS RIGHT? TELL ME! TELL ME WHY YOU DID THIS!
There’s another part of me that knows it wouldn’t work. The Lord works in mysterious ways, I’d be told, or maybe something about how if I continue to believe I’ll see how it all works out.
In more privately fearful moments, I wonder: what if this is some kind of judgement? The Old Testament tells us how, when the Israelites begged for a king, God sent them Saul, and that did not work out real good, what with the paranoia and continually trying to murder his court musician/son-in-law. But that doesn’t make sense, given who’s being targeted by Tr**p’s chief white supremacist’s policies. I mean Tr**p’s policies. No, wait, I don’t.
At least it would make sense. I desperately want this all to make sense, but it doesn’t. Right now I’m scared to go home. That is, if home even exists anymore.