This Time, It’s Personal.

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Everyone knows what my politics are — I’ve never been shy about them. But during this election politics have become increasingly personal, and I want to tell you how it feels for me, personally, when I hear that someone I know and care about plans to vote for Donald Trump.

For me, as a woman, every vote for Trump feels like a declaration that the voter doesn’t care about my safety or my rights. That the voter, frankly, doesn’t give a shit about me. About me as a woman, as a Jew, about my black friends and family, my gay friends and family, my disabled friends and family. It feels like a middle finger, like you are tossing us to the side. And it hurts.

I’m not the only one who feels this way. You have other friends and family members who are watching and listening, and doing the silent calculus of whether or not they can trust you, whether or not you are a person that makes them feel safe. They may not tell you this, now or ever. But they’re thinking it too, and re-evaluating their relationship with you, feeling out what it can and will look like after you declare your support for someone who belittles them and wishes them harm.

Donald Trump is on record bragging about sexually assaulting women. Donald Trump is set to be tried for child rape. Donald Trump has belittled immigrants, people with disabilities, and almost any other marginalized group you can think of. I’m not going to make blanket declarations that I’ll be unfriending people or cutting them out of my life. But you cannot be on Donald Trump’s side and also be on mine.

A Letter To My Neighborhood Businesses

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You are probably aware that a Washington group called “Just Want Privacy” has launched a campaign to place on the November ballot Initiative 1515, which would repeal gender identity protections already in place and allow business to limit access to restrooms, changing rooms, etc. on the basis of visitors’ genitals or DNA, rather than on their actual gender. The law purports to protect the public from assault, indecent exposure, and voyeurism — but there is no evidence that these acts are perpetrated by trans* or even pretending-to-be-trans* people, only that Just Want Privacy would like to make people believe as much in order to perpetrate their bigotry.

The truth is that it is not the predominantly cisgender public, but our transgender friends who need support and protection. According to a recent survey, one-fifth of transgender Americans report having experienced homelessness, with a current homelessness rate of twice that of the general population and an extreme poverty rate almost four times higher than the population at large. 90% report harassment at work and 53% in places such as restaurants, airports, and hotels. And an astounding 41% of transgender people attempt suicide at some point in their lifetime.

Coming out publicly against I-1515 will show your friends, neighbors, and customers that you welcome people of all identities into your business and that their money will support those who have no tolerance for bigotry or institutionalized discrimination. The organization Washington Won’t Discriminate has put together a coalition of businesses who are eager to send just that message, and has made it easy for you to add your name. As a neighbor and customer myself I would be overjoyed to see a “This Business Won’t Discriminate” sign in your window, and would be proud to walk through your doors and spend my money.

Please visit http://www.washingtonwontdiscriminate.org/business-coalition/ for more about the Washington Won’t Discriminate Business Coalition and to sign up. Thank you for your commitment to the true spirit of community.

Sincerely,
Brittney Bollay

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In 2011 my husband and I took a trip to France. We spent a few weeks traveling around Brittany, concluding in Normandy with a tour of several World War II historical sites. We visited overgrown bunkers and abandoned machines, and collected sand from the beach my grandfather had landed on almost 70 years earlier. But by far the most arresting and memorable part of our trip occurred at the Mémorial de Caen.

In this museum we took in an exhibit describing the political climate in Europe between the First and Second World Wars. As I made my way through the rooms, I was first startled and then terrified by the parallels I saw between pre-World War II Europe and America in 2011. The economic depression, the increasing polarization of society, the prevalence of scapegoating and xenophobia, and eventually the rise of a fascist, authoritarian government.

I wish I had yelled more about it then. I wish I had come back and told everyone I know. Because frankly guys, we’re in big fucking trouble.

From The Washington Post, this morning:

The Republican electorate is in a sour mood as its members prepare to begin the process of picking a presidential nominee. Almost 9 in 10 say the country is seriously off on the wrong track, and more than 8 in 10 are dissatisfied with the way the federal government works, including nearly 4 in 10 who say they’re angry about it.
Two-thirds worry about maintaining their current living standard, more than 6 in 10 say people with similar values are losing influence in American life, and about half say the nation’s best days are behind it. Half also say immigrants mainly weaken American society.

The current Republican frontrunner, of course, is Donald Trump, who the article goes on to state is considered by over 40% of Republicans to be the best choice to handle immigration.

Donald Trump, who condoned the “roughing up” of a black protester at a rally in Alabama.

Donald Trump, who has had a woman in a hijab and a man in a turban ejected from his events.

Donald Trump, who called Mexican immigrants “Criminals, drug dealers, rapists.”

Donald Trump, who wants to ban all Muslims from traveling to the U.S. and who not only supports the idea of requiring a register of U.S. Muslims but also refuses to even attempt to explain how this idea differs from policies of Nazi Germany.

I don’t even know what to do anymore, guys, except to yell and yell and yell some more. To try to maintain the energy to condemn and counter this fascism at every turn, to lift up my voice as high and loud as I can and say, “This is not okay.”

This is not okay.

We have time. The election hasn’t even technically begun. But those of us who know that fear must not rule us and that hatred is not okay — and I have to believe that’s most of us — have to find a way to push and push and push through, to maintain our hope and energy for a long and grueling journey.

And on the mornings like today, where it’s all I can do not to sink down into the couch with my coffee cup and my despair, I need to know that there’s someone else out there standing up straight, carrying the banner, forging ahead. Stay loud and stay strong. I’ll be there tomorrow. I’ll catch up to you.

 

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I dreamt of him last night, and woke up grieving.

In the dream he was alive again, young and healthy, leaping, bounding to greet me. His tongue hung goofily out of the side of his mouth as it always did in his happiest moments.

It’s a child’s wish — “Bring him back to life.” But we love our dogs with child hearts. There’s no reason in it, no rationality, only open, unguarded love, and that is why they bring us the greatest of joys and such deep, tender grief. He’s been gone almost a year, and there’s a bruise in my heart still. I feel it every day.