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The weight of four years of fear

Elephant in my room



The day after the election, I woke up with new eyes.

Apologetic to the decades of marches, protests and movements my great grandmothers and fathers retold in church houses so that their future generations wouldn't have to see such waste of human intellect and appetite.

Like many that covered their voting record with hashtags and selfies with oval stickers posted on social media, I exercised my right to vote at an age my mother's father could only dream of, asking in return for a constitution that delivers to me the safety promised to all "equal" people.

Four days later, I'm still finding the broken pieces of myself and my community scattered through filters and lenses of both rage and disdain.

Reverberating across Facebook posts tied to a country of those experiencing signals of post-traumatic stress disorder for the very first time.

This sudden fear is unfamiliar, unfitting and without permission holds its weight in the corner of my bedroom. And suddenly, I no longer felt compelled to pray.

I no longer feel safe in this skin, in this body, when hidden agendas and a sheer contempt for those that are called a nuisance to society take priority. To live in a country where the "others" must cower before a presidential administration that trickles down into the hearts of those we walk past every day; people who hate our existence.

I feel useless in this new lens. It extends far beyond Charlotte, the residents of which decidedly made good on promises of voting in favor of affordable housing, transit, and against a governor who vehemently used his leadership and taxpayer resources to defend a discriminatory law that drove away both business and citizen trust.

The small wins and the silver linings, however, have not helped to move this weight from my bedroom and back into the crevices of hope I reach for.

Many of us are uncomfortable in this new lens. We see our white peers differently based on their voting record.

Arguing the same talking points between media analysts judging the dichotomy of data, income, race and place — as though understanding the plight of those overlooked and left out negates our very real understanding of how dangerous it is to be black and brown on this day and moving forward through the next four years.

I am angry at America for doing its best to help me forget that this bubble of freedom, tolerance and understanding I live in is not guaranteed to extend itself to those I associate with professionally or in my social media feeds.

I am angry that my naiveté got the best of me to the point where I not only let my guard down but tossed it away.

This weight, this oppression has existed before, but it feels heavier now that I'm adopting this body in its entirety: Female. Black. Educated. Raised by a single parent. Fatherless. Middle Class. Capable. And yet, despite all this, I am still inadequate enough to be discounted in the election of someone rich. Someone white. Someone male. Someone privileged. Someone so clearly filled with hate.

What are the exponents of hatred and at which level must we arrive before these outcries are comprehended with empathy and course correction?

Perhaps we'll go back to praying one day, taking pride in our integrated churches once again, enjoying trivia night with our friends whom we hadn't questioned in our minds about their political choices before now.

Perhaps we'll feel safe again showing up as ourselves, in these bodies, with these identities, wearing ourselves in our workplaces and grocery stores with agency.

Maybe these words won't need to make their way across storylines and obscure media outlets to be read and considered for audiences that have been left out of nuanced histories and observations on how the other side lives.

My words are weary. My resolve a mess. So I'll rest in this bedroom with this weight sitting in the corner. And I won't apologize for it.

Many of us are weeping with just cause. The lives of our children and spouses and neighbors are at risk.

I know that dream my grandfather envisioned never included a time like this.

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