Preface: Pardon the incredibly rare and perhaps one-time-only political write-up, but I simply cannot move on with normally scheduled posts without expressing my thoughts on the outcome of the 45th presidential election. As a 29 year old gay male born of a black mother and a French immigrant father writing an eponymous blog living in New York City, this deeply affects me (as it does for half the country right now) and I feel the need to express myself.
I woke up on November 9th this past week, saddened and in disbelief. I thought I had, like many of you, awoken from a bad dream. And it’s funny because I’ve had several consistent bad dreams as of late — borderline nightmares waking up in slight gasps. Happens. Waking up on Tuesday really seemed like it was muddled with the rest of the bad dreams. Did that really happen? Am I OK? Where am I? But it wasn’t. I looked at my phone and saw the early morning CNN push notification stacked below “this is horrible” text messages saying that Trump will be next President of the United States. Like half of the country, I felt empty, scared, and angry; but I needed my 24 hours of solitude because my livid disposition was yielding erratic and incomprehensible thoughts.
I’ve had this notion for quite some time and — kindly brace yourself, as some of you may disagree — but if there was one “good” thing Trump has already accomplished, it was exposing the reality about this country; that amongst us truly exists a high percentage of racism, misogyny, prejudice, and firm -phobic convictions against the very people that make up this country. I’m sure you’ve seen that kind of racism amongst us in the past and I’m pretty sure you know that such prejudices still exist, but we were stunned by its magnitude and power resulting in Tuesday’s election. It’s ironic that it took a reality star to shed light on a reality we’ve been so slow to actually grant a reality show to.
I have to constantly remind myself that we are a country only 240 years young. Slavery was abolished in 1865 — 151 years ago — which means that there are many middle-aged Americans living amongst us right now whose grandparents and great grandparents were slaves and slave owners. Women’s suffrage was only passed in 1920 — 96 years ago — which means that some of our mothers, parents’ mothers and grandmothers experienced first-hand the hardship for equal women’s rights. Racial segregation was only abolished in 1964 — 52 years ago — which is something our generation’s parents may have experienced. And only recently, marriage equality was passed in 2015. I’m clearly missing many milestones both big and small in civil rights, but the fact here is that racism lingers because these times and their ties to the people that were part of these eras are still so “fresh.” While it seems like we’ve made great progress on the surface, a level of hate still remains in the soil of our country carried and passed on through the bloodlines of families from these extremely harsh times. But we have to remember that hate is not the physical person, but a shell in the form of generational thought that needs to be cracked (please see my dear friend and psychotherapist Matthew Dempsey’s quick video about this).
I believe that in order to eradicate that shell of hatred, it needs to surface — it needs light, which it got from the Trump campaign, so that we can understand its essence and how it thrives. And by eradication, I’m not alluding to violence, but to the creative power of love, genuine compassion, focused understanding, and firm conviction for what’s right by utilizing the rights we have as Americans for the betterment of humanity. You’ll remember those sayings, “look evil in the eye” or “bite the bullet.” Well, those sayings apply now more than ever. Evil in the form of hate needs to be exposed and confronted in its complete monster before it can be fully suppressed. Otherwise, that kind of hate will continue to spread and grow in the very soil beneath us as it has been for 240 years.
Hillary Clinton may have not won the election, but she did win the popular vote. And to me, that makes her the true 45th President of the United States. If you ask me, she fought her biggest battle yet through months of campaigning to be the next president: she fought against a billionaire bully whose very essence as we know it was built off of hate with complete poise, dignity, grit, and respect as a woman in front of the entire world… and she won the popular vote. So in a traditional sense, it may not seem like Clinton finished off her political career in the best light, but she won as our popular president-elect and I’d like to think she completed her term well before she could even be sworn into office. The Clinton campaign may be no longer, but that doesn’t mean we have to let go of its ideals. It left us with core values for how to fight:
Love trumps hate.
When they go low, we go high.
We’ve done a lot and I look up to my peers who’ve done and continue to do all that they could as humaniarians and activists — it’s beyond inspiring. But now, more than ever, more people — myself included — need to be part of the “stronger together” movement as engaging and active humanitarians as well. While I’m proud to say that I’ve donated to Hillary’s campaign, voted for her, shared my thoughts on social media, had open conversations with many about the election, and more, it wasn’t enough. What organizations can I join? What digital art can I make that will transcend? What can I start doing now for the next election? I’m making that vow today. Yes, it’s a late vow, but we’re all in this together and experiencing the same disheartening result that we have to accept and properly deal with for the next four years. It’s the very least we can do to continue the legacy of everything Clinton has fought for and, quite frankly, we owe it to her. Rest up Madame President — you deserve it more than anyone — and thank you for all that you’ve done. It’s on us now.
Lose grudges. Build hearts. #ImStillWithHer