My dad is not a citizen of the United States. I like to tell people that he’s an Alien (a Legal Alien). He has lived in the United States, run a business in the United States and paid taxes in the United States for nearly 60 years, since he married my mom and moved here in the 60’s, but he cannot vote. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have an opinion, he does, but it does mean, that even though my mom votes, we never got too caught up in politics. I grew up loving where I live and appreciating other countries and cultures.
I was in college when I could have voted for the first time but didn’t. I was busy with school, basketball and a boyfriend when George H W Bush was elected. I didn’t vote at the next presidential election either, I had recently been in a terrible car accident where I was injured and lost my fiancé. I didn’t care about the election. Nothing really mattered to me when Bill Clinton took over the White House. It was later, when I had kids, that I started to care about politics and voting and changes that might happen in my community and in our world.
Raising kids gave me a reason to care more about the future. As a young girl I had been in the midst of great change in women’s rights; I played sports all through school and even went to college on a basketball scholarship thanks to Title IV. And though I never thought much about it when I was young, I knew what it was like to be discriminated against. After college, when I would go to play basketball at open gyms, many of the guys would try to cut me out of games and I would have to battle to get on the court and as a head high school basketball coach, parents questioned my ability and my character, even though I came with twenty years of coaching experience and was building a strong program. I felt some of this was because I am a woman. Over the years I’ve seen discrimination against others because of the color of their skin, sexual orientation and their religion.
Once, modeling for a runway show at the South Center Mall, I entered a back stage entrance before the mall opened and as I was about to find the rest of the crew I looked back to see another model, and friend, coming to the entrance. She wasn’t allowed in. “She’s modeling in the show with me,” I explained to the security woman. Nothing. “You let me in, why can’t she come in?” Nothing. My friend was black and wasn’t allowed in for no other reason than the color of her skin. I was appalled. My friend was gracious, this wasn’t her first rodeo. I was pissed. We waited together, outside the mall, until the producer came to get us.
A great deal of my friends are Lesbian or Gay. Many are married and with beautiful families. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in conversations with people who ridicule a gay “lifestyle”. I’m quick to give them my opinion. I make people uncomfortable at times, but I hope that in some cases I might open minds as well. Even in this world that has been creeping toward equality, life is not perfect. And I know it will never be perfect, but as a country I was hopeful.
Then the election happened, and I can only say boy did the result hurt. Not because I wanted a woman president (I just want a good one), not because I wanted a Democratic President (I just want a good one), but because I am sad to know that such a huge portion of this country would get behind someone who treats women as if they are less, who is disrespectful to other races, who has used bankruptcy (and our countries money) to build his wealth and leave others high and dry, who believes that global warming doesn’t exist, who makes impulsive childish tweets (including dogging one of my favorite singers of all time Bette Midler), and who doesn’t encourage growth and compassion and love.
As I’ve gotten older, I vote. Though sometimes I feel like it doesn’t make a difference, I do it anyway. My daughter, who recently turned 19, voted in her first presidential election this year. She too was disheartened last Tuesday. Fearful, as I am, of what might become of this country and her rights. Before 1920 women couldn’t vote, in 1963 the Equal Pay Act abolishing wage disparity based on sex arrived, in 1973 women were given the right to choose, and though things are not perfect and prejudices still exist, things were getting better.
However, when the president-elect refers to women as bitches, openly brags about f*cking them, refers to them as fat pigs, slobs, animals and pieces of ass, it doesn’t’ give one hope that things will move in the right direction, but we have to have faith in our country and do what we can to help keep a positive focus in the next four years. We need to talk to our kids (Powerful words by Macklemore on this), volunteer in our communities, and find ways to keep this world moving in the right direction. If we continue to spread love, we will find a way to bring the people who live in this country (U.S. citizen or not) together.
WRITING PROMPT: Write about what the result of the election meant to you.