This morning as I was rushing out the door to teach a yoga class, a telemarketer called asking for Ms. Martinez.
The somber tone of the gentleman’s voice took me by surprise. He sounded as if he had not slept in days. He sounded as if he was holding it together because he had a family depending on him.
He offered me a cable upgrade. I declined and asked him to remove me from the call list.
Within this short interaction, I knew he was black and I am sure he could tell that despite my last name, I was a white girl from the Midwest.
I will remove you from the list, he said.
Thank you, I said.
There was a pause. A silence and then as if age or compassion has done something to my ability to hold back, I spoke:
My dear, you are not alone.
The silence thickened and I imagined this unknown man putting his face into his palms—to rest his worries for a moment, to grieve.
The silence and these words had a vibration that went beyond our exchange. Perhaps this is the one thing I came away with after November 8th, 2016.
You are not alone.
You are not alone if you were the one person who voted for Trump in your social circle and now you feel ostracized when all your feminist friends want to talk about Clinton; you still don’t agree she would do a better job.
You are not alone if the reason you voted for Clinton (despite Benghazi and despite Clinton’s private server) was her devotion to politics her entire life. And because, dammit, you wanted a woman in office!
You are not alone if you want to dismantle unions or if you work for a union and yet, either way, you voted for Trump.
You are not alone if you are or if you have a son or daughter who is homosexual, bisexual or transgender and by God your vote was from the heart. Your vote was out of mere protection.
You are not alone if you have cried.
You are not alone if you live in a red state and voted blue or in a blue state and voted red. You are not alone in feeling alone and isolated.
You are not alone if you employ legal immigrants and yet you know family members of these legal immigrants are not legal. You are not alone in worrying how the emotional complications will affect work performance, selfish as that may be.
You are not alone if you must get married now, and fast, before you are deported.
You are not alone if you are a compassionate conservative and didn’t vote. Or if you just didn’t vote.
You are not alone if your household is divided and there is a newfound tension when you go to sleep at night.
You are not alone if you have an Arabic last name and think now may be the time to go to the courthouse to make that one change that will allow you to blend in. Somewhat.
You are not alone if you stumbled into work after sleepless nights, waking to uneasy children and carrying around a heavy heart. When what really kept you awake was how you were going to explain to your children of color how these next four years will affect their lives.
And you are not alone in your silence.
Author: Ashley Martinez
Image: Cheryl Holt/Pixabay
Volunteer Editor: Josie Myers; Editor: Catherine Monkman