I was at the grocery store on Sunday, and I just so happened to be wearing a “Stand Against Trump” shirt. As I walked through the store, I noticed the different looks I was getting. Some were judgey, aggravated stares. Some people didn’t notice me at all. But the one that changed my day was an older man wearing ripped up black jeans, steel toe boots, a Garth Brooks concert t-shirt, and a hat that said ‘Vietnam Veteran’.
When I saw this man eye my shirt, I got nervous. He looked right at me, took a deep breath, and raised his fist. I prepared myself for the public, verbal assault he was about to give me. Why? I don’t know, I just assumed that’s what was coming based on how outwardly vocal our country’s political divide has become. What happened next surprised the heck out of me; The man raised his fist, gave me a great set of duck lips and said, ‘Rock on, girl. We should all feel this way. And actually, make sure you kneel at the National Anthem.’
After that I, of course, started talking to him and his wife. I find myself doing that a lot these days – talking to people I don’t know about what’s going on in our country as I look for answers as to how we got here as a nation and what to do next. This man told me about his experience as a combat veteran and about how now he and his wife fear for the lives of current service members and their families. They told me that a president should be smarter than his constituents and not constantly putting their lives and their country at risk. Finally I asked the million dollar question of the week. Wait. Before you read any further, if you haven’t realized it yet, I am against our current president. Actually ‘against’ really isn’t the right way to put it. I think our current president is a piece of shit asshole who does not give one single fuck about any citizens in this country. Yeah. That’s more what I meant. I also think he is arrogant, self-centered, and hateful. Yet the biggest concern I have heard from some citizens of our country this week is that kneeling during the anthem is insanely disrespectful to our country, our flag, and our troops.
Disrespectful to our troops? Kneeling during the anthem is disrespectful to our troops? Do most people who served in the military feel this way? I asked this man what his opinion was in regards to respect for the troops during the national anthem. His response was amazing, succinct and powerful. He said, ‘I fought for the constitution. Not this dimwitted president we have right now. And the constitution guarantees rights, INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO ASSEMBLE PEACEFULLY, for ALL Americans. Right now, all Americans are not afforded rights and there is an imbalance of power. These men are using their voice to stand up for those people. And I am damn proud of it. Because I fought and almost lost my life to give them that freedom.’
I was shocked. See, as a mom in this current political climate, I worry every day that my sons will grow up in a world full of hate. A world in which bigotry and racism and sexism run rampant. A world like we live in today. And as a mother, it terrifies me. But experiences like I had in the grocery store on Sunday fill me with hope and love and the passion I need to keep on fighting. To keep fighting systemic racism that slaughters black men and women. To keep fighting against a system that places women as merely sexual objects and as less important than men. To keep fighting the alt-right, the neo-nazis, and all the motherfucking Trump supporters that want to keep their privilege and throw everyone else in the basement. Ya know, the ones that are more offended by peaceful protesting that could possibly offend someone in the military, but seem completely unconcerned by police violence against people of color or a president that defends Nazis.
I keep fighting. I keep fighting for my future, and for the future my children and grandchildren will live in. I keep fighting because our black men and women deserve the same treatment as white men and women. They deserve to not be killed for the crime of being black. So I keep fighting.
By the way, my children have a black father who is also a veteran. And let me tell you, the fact that Trump has essentially made it OK to be racist and has basically declared war on North Korea is lot more fucking offensive to him than the fact that a bunch of NFL players took a knee during the anthem. Just saying.
Listen, if you voted for Trump and you feel pretty good about this decision, feel free to stop reading this. There is nothing left here for you. If you voted for Trump and you feel sorry, I can give you a hug and forgive you. It’s not too late to admit you were wrong and stand up for what is right. Now is the time to come together. If you voted for Hillary, I will fist bump you, but if you’re still talking about it, I will have to smack you in the head. Read her book. Love her. Know that she was robbed. But we have to move on. We have to focus on developing and electing strong, women leaders of all races and ethnicities. We have to be the change.
I often think about the future my children will experience. My bi-racial, intelligent, silly, and beautiful baby boys. I also think about my friends’ children – especially the friends with black sons – I think about how they must worry more and more each day knowing they are sending these children into the world to be treated so unfairly for the crime of being born black. And it’s thoughts like this that keep me up at night wondering how anyone in this country can look around at what’s going on and NOT worry.
That man who stood in solidarity with me in a grocery store, reminded me that those of us that see what’s wrong – those of us that worry – we are on the right side of history. That hate will not win—not then, not now, and not ever. That we hold the power to make a change and to truly make America great (ahem, after Trump). We have to be loud and fierce and we can never, never, never normalize hateful behavior. We need to remember that our service members continue to fight for the rights of all Americans: past, present, and future. And we need to remember that our fellow Americans who are taking a stand by taking a knee, have every right to take that stand thanks to our constitution. Because make no mistake, it is time for us all to take the stand my shirt suggests and stand up for America by standing against Trump.