Southern Virginia is the country. Cotton fields, pork and chicken processing plants, wide open spaces with grazing cows and horses and one-lane dirt roads make up most of the scenery. This is where I spent a lot of my time growing up. This is where I spent my weekend, driving through Smithfield and Waverly on dirt paths lined with dead leaves, dead cotton and Trump-Pence campaign posters. It was honestly one of the most terrifying experiences of my life.
Immediately all of the worst-case scenarios started running through my mind as my old Kia trudged its way through the rural communities. What if my car broke down, forcing me to seek help at the nearest Trump supporter’s house who likely wouldn’t take kindly to my brown face at their front door? What if I got pulled over and harassed by a cop for not signaling or simply not belonging in that neighborhood? What if one of the many fatigue sporting, gun toting, trigger happy hunters I repeatedly spotted through the trees “mistook” me for their next kill knowing they could probably get away with it?
My imagination was running away with me but not that far. Unless you’ve been in a coma for the last year and a half, you’ve watch Republican nominee Donald Trump repeatedly prove that he is a racist, xenophobic, sexist bigot whose campaign has incited violence against racial minorities, women, Muslims and immigrants. I’d be a fool not to assume all of his supporters hold the same sentiments which means someone like me, a Black woman, probably isn’t safe in their community.
Angry, violent and prejudice people have always existed in this country but Trump and his campaign have given them a sense of community and a sense of power and the thought of having a world leader who models and encourages their bigotry is deeply unsettling. There are a lot of issues on the country’s ballots and one person will not fix all of our nation’s problems but there is one person who should absolutely not be given the chance to make our problems worse.
I don’t know what’s going to happen after today but no matter what, America has already been scarred. Because once half of the country declares allegiance to a fascist bully like Trump, how can you just go back to business as usual? After today, the Trump-Pence lawn signs will be pulled up but I’ll still remember the places and people I saw supporting him and I’ll always remember how scared it made me feel. My only hope is that we all do what we need to do today and in future elections to make sure that Trump and people like him don’t have government support.
Today, I am #UnapologeticallyVoting AGAINST Trump and against anything that will make America scarier than it already is. Vote wisely and unapologetically today.