My grandmother died a month ago today. That day felt like it does today. 24 hours after realizing this whole election was not a joke. Donald Trump is going to be our next president. This is real. This happening. It feels like a death.
All the theories about Trump just being a ploy of the Clinton campaign to get her elected were obviously not true because here we are. She is not our president. Trump won 58 million votes. He won. I can't believe I am typing that.
The exit polls tell us that the white women without degrees are a huge reason Trump won. I am a white woman without a degree. I did not vote for him but I feel as much to blame.
I stayed in my blue bubble. I did not reach out with love and respect to women who live in a different paradigm than I do. I did not engage people who believe differently with empathy and consideration.
I chose my personal comfort and safety over coalition building and radical collaboration. I underestimated white supremacy and misogyny. I was blinded by my own privilege.
I did not do enough. I did not do enough.
I decided today I am going to chew every bite of this bowl of sorrow, intentionally and compassionately but tomorrow I am going to get to work.
In 2010, I wrote a poem called To The Oklahoma Progressives Plotting Mass Exodus. I wrote in this same kind of despair. When I had:
a sick pit in my stomach, a plantation in my front yard.
the static flicker of black and white,
an absurd talking picture where sepia skin
has become villain
I wrote that poem in thirty minutes while crying at my desk. I wrote it to convince myself to stay.
In the last six years, I've received so many emails saying, "Your poem is on my desk, I read it whenever I want to flee." I get apologies from people, "I know you said to stay but I just can't. I have to leave." I know people who have tattooed the words on their skin, "Here is where we need you."
Today in the wake of this horrific election result, I was tagged in numerous posts with people quoting me.
Do not let them drive you away.
Don't leave. Here is where we need you.
Progress is a series of small, bold moves.
I didn't realize how badly I would need to read my own words today. Some people emailed me and asked if I could write an updated version for America. Someone asked if I had anything to say to lift their spirits.
I got nothing, y'all. I'm scared. I'm sad. Just like you. I want to stay and do the work but that's easier for me to say, I am a white cis woman.
Many of you know that my partner, Kai, is trans. He is scared for his life. He is lucky to pass but his birth certificate still says F and he is so scared he will not be able to have access to testosterone and the climate of hate will make it unsafe for him to be here. Not to mention the supreme court cases that will decide on trans rights.
Our children are terrified. Kavi came in the bedroom crying. She showed me a tweet from someone who said, "I want Trump to get elected so we can do whatever we want to women." She recently confessed to me that her number one fear about going to college is being assaulted. I cannot look her in the eye and say that won't happen.
My cousin is a middle school history teacher in Baton Rouge. Today she had her students write whatever questions or concerns they had about the election. This was one of them:
What do we say? How do we move forward?
I posted on Facebook that I think the people in the liberal coastal cities need to move inland. We need help. We need a break. Move out of those expensive cities and move to the red, red heartland. We need to make America purple again. That's not a real solution.
I don't have any answers. What I know is that whoever the hidden voters were, they were dissatisfied with their lives. They are scared for their children.
Now more than ever, we are allowed to hide from each other. We can hide posts. We keep friend circles of only people we agree with. We shape our algorithm to show us only what we want to see. If we want, we can spend an entire day, never communicating with anyone who disagrees with us.
There is no growth in hiding.
If there is anything good from this election, it's that we can see each other now. We can see, in plain sight, that 58 million Americans are terrified of losing white supremacy. 58 million Americans do not trust the government. 58 million Americans think that a narcissistic billionaire with unethical business practices is better for the economy and their personal well being than a woman who has spent her entire adult life preparing for the presidency.
There is something wrong with our messaging. We can see that clearly now. What we can see, we can fix.
“Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart