If you voted for him, I really need you to hear something right now:
I believe you.
I believe you when you say that you’re not a racist.
I believe you when you say that you’re not a bigot.
I believe you when you say you’re not homophobic.
I believe you when you say you’re not a misogynist.
I believe you when you say you’re not an Islamophobe.
I believe you when you say you’re not an anti-Semite.
I believe you when you say that you don’t condone violence and discrimination and bullying.
But I won’t keep believing you if you remain silent.
I know you had legitimate reasons for voting for him; things that either real or imagined, genuinely moved you to your decision and that you wrestled with these reasons greatly. But I don’t care about those reasons; not because I don’t care about you or value you or want to understand you or because I don’t respect your road, but because those reasons can’t help those who are hurting or threatened right now—only your response can.
You see, regardless of why you voted for him, you did vote for him. Your affirmation of him and your elevation of him to this position, came with what you knew about him:
It came after hearing the horrible, degrading, vile things he said about women.
It came after hearing him encourage his supporters to be violent with protestors.
It came after he advocated for Muslims to be expelled and profiled.
It came after he made fun of a man with physical disability.
It came after he framed the BlackLivesMatter movement as criminal and subversive.
It came after he personally criticized the appearance and weight and sexual activity of women opponents.
It came after he chose a Vice President who believes gay people can pray away their gayness.
It came after the KKK and the neo-Nazis endorsed him.
These were all things you had to weigh to cast your vote, and by whatever method you used, you declared theses things within your morally acceptable parameters. You deemed these part of the “lesser of two evils”. In voting your conscience—these things made the cut.
And so the whys of your vote matter less now than the who of your vote. That person is here, and everything happening now is the reality you and I need to deal with together. Both of our intentions have to yield to the moment we stand in together.
And I need you to speak now. If the acts of violence toward people of color and the harassment of the Muslim community and the anti-Semitic graffiti and the misogynistic assaults on women make you sick; if they are not your heart, if they are not acceptable, if they are not who you are—say so.
And if the appointment of a chief advisor to the President who has shown blatant, explicit, incendiary hatred for people of color and Jewish people and the Muslim community, is not what you consented to with your vote, you need to say that too.
I want to believe that you do value equality and diversity and in the inherent value of every person as much as I do. I want to believe that people are precious to you, no matter their color or gender or faith tradition or sexual orientation. But if you refuse to speak into the events of these days, if you choose to stay silent, whether out of fear or shame or buyer’s remorse or ambivalence—I will have no choice but to believe that you are okay with all of this.
And here’s the thing, friend: If you were to say that you are not okay with all of this, if you were to stand up to the bigots and the racists and the misogynists and the homophobes and the anti-Semites and the xenophobes—you will find that I will stand with you. I will live and work and worship alongside you, and you will find me a willing, available, and caring partner in the crafting of the future of this country. I promise you.
I will not hold your vote against you, because I trust that you arrived at that vote as carefully, prayerfully, and seriously as I did mine.
But make no mistake, I will hold your silence now against you.
I will hold your inaction against you.
I will hold your refusal to see the pain of those your vote has at least in some part, initiated against you.
I will hold your lack of compassion for the marginalized against you.
So yes, I believe you are not the horrible things I am seeing from the hateful, vicious, intolerant few from the fringes, but that belief comes with the expectation that I will hear you now; that you will shout to the fringes that this is not what you meant by making America great.
It comes with the expectation that you will tell the President and your elected officials and your pastors, that these things do not have a place in the country you desire.
It comes with the expectation that you speak now to the marginalized, and that you reiterate their worth, hear their grief, validate their fear, and that you come to their defense in both word and in tangible support.
Friend, you may feel like you are being attacked these days, but you’re not. You’re being challenged to be the person you tell us you are.
If you voted for him I do not believe that automatically makes you the enemy.
Only your silence in the face of this hatred can do that.
Please speak, so I can know you.
Order John’s book, ‘A Bigger Table’ here.