You’re NOT American!

This election has been rough for everyone–believers, our Muslim friends, immigrants, the LGBTQ+ community, women, African-Americans/Blacks and any other minorities.

It’s been rough.

To see it all over and done with is an exhale underwater.

Unfortunately, I had to experience a moment of verbal explosion to make room for the air flow.

I teach at an international school. Most of the teachers are from different countries; there are only three of us Americans in total. You can imagine our camaraderie during the results–all three of us huddled at our own “little America” during lunch, discussing (thankfully, peacefully) our thoughts and feelings about the elections.

A black woman, a daughter of immigrants, and a white male watching the fate of OUR country together.

Between classes my co-workers cheered for a certain politician I was/am against. Frustration boiled in my bones.

“Please, can you stop? I don’t want to talk about this.”
“Why? You don’t like [insert politician]”
“No. I don’t.”
“Why not?”
[goes on angry rant]
“Oh.” [walks away]

My first interaction went okay, I think, but as the day progressed on there was no more room under the rug to sweep these kinds of conversations under.

Everywhere I went people were giving me a loud reminder of the elections as if they didn’t see my cellphone glued to my hands. I was watching. I was watching so closely that for a second the 12 hour difference blurred. Time zones ceased to exist.

For my older students I allowed discussion, but for my younger pupils I sternly warned them that if there was any blue or red talk that spilled from their lips they would get a view of the lesson from outside my door.

This election has been rough and I didn’t need anymore silly discussion about it.

Towards the end of the day the last comment that sent my politeness out of the door– rug, broom, and all– came my way.

[insert politician’s name]!
“Can you not?”
[repeats politician’s name, this time with more spunk and vibrato]
“I asked you to stop. You are being rude. This is a really sensitive issue. IT’S NOT YOUR COUNTRY. YOU’RE NOT AMERICAN. I AM.*”
Silence.

Yeah… it’s definitely not my proudest moment, but after that explosion I didn’t have to look too deep to forgive myself. This election has been rough for all of us. I think that was me finally exhaling, for too long I had held my breath.

It may feel like an exhale underwater, but it’s an exhale. I’ll take it.

P.S. Still a proud American. My mother came here and worked too hard for me not to be.

*It’s not the fact that my co-workers and students are not American–how ethnocentric and rude would that be–it’s that it seemed to be all a joke to them. My word vomit came out the wrong way, as all word vomits do, what my heart really meant was please, let’s talk about this seriously.

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