Almost exactly six years ago, my Women & Literature professor challenged our class to choose a contemporary woman in the public eye, and write about the ways in which she represents the average, modern American woman.
I wrote about Carrie Fisher.
I did not grow up on Star Wars, but for whatever reason, Wishful Drinking grabbed my attention. Before I’d even finished reading it, Carrie Fisher became my hero. Here was a woman who had battled body-image issues, bipolar disorder, and addiction. And she came out the other side laughing. Even as I read about her most difficult times in life, I was awed and inspired by her ability to keep her sense of humor.
I’m not so good at that. When depression strikes, I tend to lose my ability to laugh at all. So you can imagine that I’m not in the mood to laugh right now. But I think she’d want us to.
Because my sense of humor is MIA right now, here’s some of Carrie Fisher’s. I hope it helps you smile even if you feel like crying.
“I have a sense you will be going to outer space very soon, so here’s why you cannot wear your brassiere, per George [Lucas]. So, what happens is you go to space and you become weightless. So far so good, right? But then your body expands??? But your bra doesn’t—so you get strangled by your own bra. Now I think that this would make for a fantastic obit—so I tell my younger friends that no matter how I go, I want it reported that I drowned in moonlight, strangled by my own bra” (Wishful Drinking, 88).
“Drowned in moonlight,” just sounds so poetic and magical, and when you follow up with laughter in the face of overwhelming pain, like “strangled by my own bra,” you get Carrie Fisher.
I wanted to meet her. More than I’ve ever wanted to meet a celebrity. I wanted to see her one-woman show and maybe wait outside afterwards so I could tell her how much her memoir meant to me. So I could tell her to her face that I did not love Carrie Fisher because of Princess Leia, but that I loved Princess Leia because of Carrie Fisher.
Not all Trump voters use vulgar speech to objectify, belittle, or humiliate women. Not all Trump voters are members of the KKK. Not all Trump voters are violent, and many even follow a God whose highest commandment (after loving Him) is to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Let’s remember that we’re in this together – we have to be if we want to rise above the fear that is holding us down as a country.
I understand that you voted the way you did because you felt it was the right decision. But I need you to meet me halfway. I need you to understand something too.
Violence against minorities has skyrocketed. This is not your fault, because you’re not violent or xenophobic or misogynistic. But it is your responsibility to inform your fellow Trump supporters that their violent actions are unacceptable. Because it is every human being’s responsibility to stand up against violence, wherever they see it.
People are afraid. Not just about losing their health insurance or their ability to feed their family. Not just about whether their marriage will be torn apart or their children carted off to foster care because of who their parents love.
Your fellow Americans – your own family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, people you know and love and see every day – are afraid that they will be next. And the way things are going, they might be.
Look around at the people in your life. How many of them are women, Muslim, immigrants, LGBTQ, differently abled, or otherwise marginalized? Now imagine someone attacked them because of this.
Are you willing to protect the people you love?
Do what your president-elect has failed to do: Take a stand against discrimination and hate crimes.
Be an ally. Attend rallies and protests. If you see someone being attacked – physically or verbally – step in. And even before it comes to that, stand with those of us who are in danger, and vow to protect us from the extremists who threaten us and our loved ones. Offer to walk with someone to a safe place. Make conversation with the scared person sitting next to you on the bus. Call or write your legislators and demand action against hate crimes.
Educate yourselves as well as your friends and family. Read books about and written by people of various backgrounds, and teach your kids that differences are to be celebrated not feared. Actively seek out ways to help, rather than waiting for someone to ask you for help – because until they know you, they might be afraid of you.
Here’s the thing. A lot of us “bleeding heart liberals” feel betrayed by you. You may not have voted the way you did because your candidate uses hateful speech and actions against women, Muslims, immigrants, the LGBTQ community, differently abled people, etc. But the hatred he spewed was not enough for you to look at his name on the ballot and say to yourself, “Oh hell no.” You were willing to look the other way when we were threatened.
It’s time to stop looking the other way.
You cannot change your vote, but you can take accountability and start to heal the betrayal that more than half the country is feeling.
I’m not asking you to support same-sex marriage. I’m not asking you to be pro-choice. I’m not asking you to welcome immigrants or provide them a reasonable route to citizenship.
All I’m asking is that you defend human beings’ right to live, and live with dignity.