Even through the Electoral College vote in December, there was a piece of me that thought maybe… maybe she can still be our president… this simply cannot be the end. After that, it hit me while I was on the phone with my mom and it was the first time I allowed myself to truly acknowledge the fact that Hillary will not be our president. Even now, months later, it still brings tears to my eyes.
My mom is a woman who doesn’t get enough credit for the shit she’s been through and done. I was 18 when I learned that there was a point in her adult life where she could not get her own credit card or insurance policy. These are things that even I, as a feminist, and an activist, had somehow expected a very old woman to recount to me. I tried to imagine myself, right there, as a woman going off to college as someone who was refused the basic tools of independent living.
My mom got her master’s degree when she was pregnant. My grandma, herself also a post-graduate degree holder, had told my mom to bust her ass and get it before my brother came, because time would be short after. So that’s what my mom did: busted her ass to get her masters, while working full time, and pregnant. Even after my brother was born, my mom worked full time, as well as my dad, who was then working in another city.
My mom was able to travel to Paris with her class for the first time at 16 because her own mother had sacrificed and made it work for her to do so. Those experiences are life changing and formative, and yet it is a privilege to be able to have them, moreso in 1965. Because of that trip, my mama became a traveler, and also sacrificed and made it work for me to be able to go on exchanges and language programs and study abroads.
So I watched Hillary accept the Democratic nomination with my mom. We bantered and raved about the campaign, and shared many “oh my god, did you HEAR what he said?!” moments. On the night of the election, our texts back and forth are pretty entertaining. They’re also stunned, and angry, and hurt. “I’m afraid we are doomed,” she wrote me.
I was on the phone with her a few days after the Electoral College vote, when I just started crying. I was pulling into my garage, and I don’t even know what we had been talking about prior, or what triggered it, but all of a sudden I was in tears. “What’s wrong?” my mama asked, concerned on the other end of the phone.
“Mom, she’ll never be our president,” was all I could choke out.
It took me a while to even realize the grieving process I was going through. I was stuck in denial for a while. My anger fueled me through the first six weeks of Trump’s presidency in the form of activism, and some ill advised rants. I may still be stuck in the anger stage – there’s a lot to be angry about – though I have my bouts with the depression stage. My bargaining looks a lot like a toddler taking her first steps: if we can just make these phone calls and stop this bill; if we can attend this town hall and just put the fear of 2018 in this Congressman; if I donate a few dollars to the Georgia 6th race, we can start to chip away at this event. Then I fall down again, into anger or sadness.
Here’s the thing though: I don’t think I will ever accept this. At least, not until November 3rd, 2020. Then maybe I can wrangle with accepting that this thing happened, and move past it after it’s over. But while we’re still in the throes of FBI investigations into ties to Russia, devastating policy choices, women having their hijabs torn off them at the grocery store, Nazis marching in the street, Hispanic friends being told to “go home”, and others deported, there will be no acceptance.
There will be no acceptance of what I was told on November 8, 2016; what my friends were told; what people of color were told; what undocumented immigrants were told; what disabled people were told. To accept these things would be to aid in my own dehumanization, and I refuse to make that any easier for those who would see only a womb or a pussy to grab.