After November 8th, I became afraid to stop for gas. I drive across the country frequently, so I have to stop for has, often in small towns off the interstate. And I’m afraid because I’m hearing all these stories (from friends and on the internet) of KKK fliers being passed out, women getting assaulted for wearing hijabs, black people being verbally harassed on the road, etc. So I feel justified in being afraid to step out of my car. I even wrote a little song as I was on the road (one of many songs I write when bored 5 hours into a drive):
I’m afraid to stop for gas / Afraid some racist, misogynist ass / Will stop his car by my front end / And call me that name that starts with “N” / He’ll pull a gun and shoot me dead / And I know that this is all in my head / Such a simple, menial task / But I’m afraid to stop for gas.
So I told this to my white relatives – who didn’t necessarily vote for Trump but are on the conservative side of things – and they told me personal stories of their acceptance of America’s diversity, their rejection of hate crimes, their fear with regards to negative experiences they’ve had with black people, and their fear of being attacked and misunderstood by liberals, etc.
I actually began to cry reading what they wrote. I did not cry when Hillary lost. I cried when coming to the realization that, literally, everyone is afraid. I was depressed for a couple weeks because it feels hopeless. Everyone lives in fear. How do we stop it?
Several weeks later, the only thing I can think of is to smile at people and if you see someone struggling with something, help them if you can. I think there’s nothing else that can be done. Because fear is perceived, it does not actually exist. Fear is a thing we feel that will only dissipate as we feel more comfortable in our environments. Each time I stop for gas and encounter nice, respectable people, I feel a little safer. So just smile at people! Boom. I just solved all the world’s problems.