In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)
As I stood in Dallas Fort Worth International Airport this afternoon, posting a video to my Instagram story of the protest against Trump’s Muslim ban, a sense of dread overcame me. I should have felt empowered, being surrounded by activists and champions of social justice– hearing their promising chants of hope, but in scrolling through my Instagram feed, I was transfixed by the endless stream of every day outfit posts, food pictures, and selfies. The juxtaposition was maddening.
I feel caught between two separate worlds, and it’s becoming unbearable to cope with both. And I know that it is, in part, my own doing. For more than a year, I worked in the influencer marketing industry living and breathing fashion, beauty, and the selling of things. Even when current events or acts of injustice moved me, I kept my opinions carefully guarded, because I was afraid to ruffle feathers in a conservative environment.
Until the night that I learned of the election results. I felt physically ill and heartbroken. The next morning, I took a sick day and spent it in bed fighting nausea, sobbing uncontrollably, and screaming into a pillow. When I returned the following day, it was business as usual. Except that I knew, deep down, nothing would ever be the same. I couldn’t remain silent anymore.
Eventually, I did what I could— gave my notice of resignation and joined the non-profit world in the hope of giving back to the community and making a difference. Fortunately, I have a close group of friends that share my values in whom I can confide. We’ve started finding ways to resist, speak out, and support progress. It’s been rejuvenating and restorative. But I realized today there are inescapable traces of that former life on social media.
This afternoon at the airport, I stood in that crowd searching frantically through today’s Instagram feed for anything related to Trump’s latest travesty. I saw posts about which bikinis were hot for the summer, spring fashion ideas, brunch, Valentine’s Day dresses, but not one came even remotely close to making a real statement.
I know that I have blogger friends who are outraged by what is happening in our country this weekend. And I do understand the concern about alienating readership by revealing your political leanings, because I was like that to some extent myself until recently. But this is beyond politics. There is more at stake than losing a couple followers and sales commissions.
Looking at my Instagram feed, you would think today was any ordinary day. But it was not a normal day. These are not normal executive orders. This is not a normal presidency.
THIS IS NOT NORMAL.
It is inconceivable to me that we could be doomed to repeat tragic history after coming so far. My heart is breaking at the thought that people wanting America to be great again merely means unraveling years of progress in civil rights and social justice. Flashes of terror overcome me as I remember the first time I learned about the Chinese Exclusion Act or the horrors of Japanese internment.
As an immigrant adoptee, I’ve begun to worry that I need to carry a copy of my naturalization papers with me at all times. I’m afraid that if Trump someday decides China or North Korea is a threat, all Asian Americans will be subject to the same discrimination and cruelty. I wonder if it happens to me next, whether friends will continue to post their sale alerts and breakfast snapshots instead of coming to my aid.
I feel sickened not just by the silence, but the pretense of an ordinary world when people’s lives and families are being torn apart. If there are any bloggers that feel in any way that what is happening is not right, I implore you to say something. We are part of an incredible industry with immeasurable influence. Use it for good. Dedicate one post to making a difference instead of money.
Even if you think my beliefs are ridiculous, and you have a completely opposite stance— take it. Constructive dialogue leads to progress. My bleeding heart is figuratively sprawled across this blog for you to do with it what you will. I want to hear your voice. Say something. If telling the truth or standing up for what’s right is detrimental to blogging, then I don’t think I have a place here anymore. I can’t remain quiet.