By ANTONIA WILLIAMS-GARY
So, we have a new President of the United States of America.
Congratulations to the winner. Congratulations to a new America. Divided we stand. For how long? Long.
I wish I could be more enthusiastic, but after being sullied by the long, bitter, insult- throwing fight to get here, to me it matters less who won, but with the aftermath; I want to take a long shower. What was won?
Congress is still a mess. The Supreme Court will remain hamstrung for a while. Internal squabbles in our major governing institutions are ripe for implosion (the Department of Justice is just one). International bullies are threatening a real fight.
And, American citizens have lost their identity! We’re in the grip of a collective paranoia; general madness has settled over the entire nation. A bunker mentality has gripped the country- since before Obama was elected- and is so entrenched, that civil discourse is threatened by promises violence and retaliation after this election.
Imagine, some people are even mad that Beyoncé appeared at the Country Music Awards- even though she was signing with the Dixie Chicks! The scene on Wednesday morning is much like confronting the mess left over from a very bad family dinner, where no one left sated- although there was plenty of food on the table- much of it remained untouched-and the leftovers have been spoiled by vitriol.
The debris that has spread across the country from this Presidential election frightens me.
So, on this morning after, I’m appalled by how the shape of the country has been drawn by color codes. It was so telling when, during the last week of the campaign, a self-described liberal redneck was praying for Georgia, his home state, to turn blue; to prove to himself that there were more folks like him.
Did he get an answer to his prayers? Where do you live? In a red or blue state?
The notion of a united states is just a myth: the United States of America has never been united except in those few times when we faced a national threat
(World War 11, and after 911), but not during Viet Nam or during our aggressions in the Middle East.
After the 2016 campaign of snarl and scorn, my feelings of uncertainty, which began to emerge over the past eight years, have been sharpened to the constant pain of anxiety. I know I’m not alone.
Now that this election is over, we all have to deal with that meddlesome middle- you know, that vast area of land where so many disaffected people live. Too many of them are loaded with unresolved hatred. Too many carry guns.
I fear my fellow countrymen. For instance, I am not sure how I will be treated if I took a cross country drive.
For a drive from Dallas (blue) to southern Florida (blue), I just might need an up-to-date version of The Negro Motorist Green Book (for travelers) to help me navigate through hostile territories I’d have to cross in East Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, a little piece of Alabama, and north Florida to get safely down, and over, to the gold coast (Palm Beach to Miami-Dade- are always blue).
Or, if I wanted to travel west to Los Angeles, California (blue), large parts of that trip would be treacherous. The vastness of the terrain would take me across nearly 1500 miles of red and rural, except for New Mexico where I could stop to eat and use the bathroom in relative comfort.
But what about Nevada? Better off flying.
And, I need to just cancel any thought of driving from Dallas to Chicago (blue to blue). No matter which route I take, that trip would route me through centers of stress and strum- straight into the heart of where the angry white working classes remain strung along highways peppered with abandoned industrial complexes and impending poverty.
Help! Where can I feel safe? Much of my Country has become a hostile territory. To me. Again.
The Pacific Northwest is looking really good. It’s all blue. Its way up there with clean air, liberals, and the rivers and cities are inviting. Yes, it may break off into the ocean after a really big earth quake, but, I think it’ll survive the next four years.
The question is, can we continue to survive in a divided box of crayons, with only two shades of blue and red? I yearn for us to become a new color: purple, so that we are all able to, with conviction, sing out loud: “My country tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing…..from every mountain side, let freedom ring.”