When she was twelve years old, my aunt escaped from the concentration camp where her mother and siblings were interned. She swam through the sewers, found food, and returned. My grandmother collected snails and cooked them out of sight of the Japanese guards. Around them, people were tortured and killed on a daily basis.
On paper, the Allies won the war. For my family, it continued to rage.
To this day, trauma has rippled from generation to generation. That simple act of ripping my aunts from their lives mid-education has led to cycles of poverty and misery that continue to this day. Some of my family, like my father, were able to break the cycle. Some were not. The recent history of my family runs the gamut from stability to crime and heroin addiction. At every end of the spectrum, a culture of anxiety — you’ve got to be safe; get an education because they can’t take that away from you — underpinned every choice.
Joe Biden has won the Presidency. The cruelest policies of the Trump administration will likely come to an end; we will need to be vigilant and apply pressure so that the long tail of cruelty is replaced by a dogma of inclusion and care.
For some families, the effects of the Trump administration will be felt not just for years, but for generations. Family separation, willful mismanagement of the pandemic, and sanctioned police brutality have created centers of trauma that are difficult to escape from. These are Trump’s victims. For them, regardless of the result of this election, Trump won.
They will need help to escape the cycle. We owe it to them because we did this to them. Regardless of their nationality or context, they are our responsibility.
The real work begins now. It starts by setting things right. And then we start to build the society we actually want.
Originally published at https://werd.io on November 6, 2020.