I woke up out of my dead sleep an hour ago. I knew Trump won before I went to bed. I just thought I might have a full nights sleep first
I'm the only one awake at my place so woke up lonely and deeply sad.
So I came here. Looking for something. Sometimes it just feels too big, too overwhelming. The deep hatred and anger in America had always been there. But sometimes Sometimes you know a relationship has been over for years, but hearing the words "I don't love you" still cuts deeply
That is where I am .
I know America hates me. I know it is full of bigotry and ignorance. I have no illusions It still hurts to hear This feeling I feel now is one I haven't felt in years. Not since arguing kids out of jail.
I had a girl on probation... She'd done everything we'd asked of her. The hard work, the soul searching, brought up her grades, stayed out of trouble. She had done so well she'd been selected to represent our program in Albany. But the case that had brought her to us a year earlier although minor, was a probation violation. But nobody had bothered to violate her. So here we are with our model child, excited to advocate for juvenile justice. And the police come to arrest her I had never been an expert witness before, but I tried my best to present her case.
"She is EXACTLY what you want from us!" I spoke of her achievements, her grades, her progress, her mentorship of others, her empathy, her dedication She turned to me after I stepped off the stand and said "Thank you, Mister for fighting for me. Its not going to matter"
My heart broke "They're gonna to see all you've done"
"No, Mister. They won't"
"Its ok." I knew she was right, but I a 20 something idealist wouldn't accept the truth this 14 year old kid didn't even question . The system didn't care about her. Didn't respect her. Didn't care if she rehabilitated or not.
I thought reason might prevail
As I watched the light go out of her eyes as she was led away something in me broke
I left the courthouse and wandered the street in tears How could it be THIS fucked?
How was I so powerless to lose a child who should have been a model case?
How could the system be so dense? I've never been caught off guard by the system and its hatred again.
I wasn't tonight either
But the FEELING is back - What did happen was this
I studied that case. I pored over it. Every bit of evidence, every word of testimony, every trick prosecution used . I fucking armed myself with knowledge and vengeance.
I couldn't do anything more for this girl, but I could do more for others . On that stand, I'd been unprepared for the dirty tricks. I would never be again. I never was again . I squared off with that prosecutor five more times and sent him packing each time.
There is nothing we can do to change the outcome of this election.
But we are not. This is one if those times. Where we must break. To take in the overwhelming reality and face it head on with all the pain it brings. Don't put on a happy mask and pretend it's normal. There's nothing normal here.
Its ok to break.
We can't pretend anymore. Its time for our illusions to come down.
That we are in a post racial society
That the crowd will do the right thing
That facts matter
We need to come out from behind our comfort zones and bubbles and look at our country without the lenses of exceptionalism .
Now we know.
We are not more empathetic than Germany
More savvy than Brexiters
We are not more serious about our democracy
We're just a fallible country full of regular fucking humans like everywhere else.
We. Are. Not. Immune.
Take a deep breath. When you exhale, realize that we are still in this together. And we have a chance. If we choose to take it, to drop our facades . I am thankful for you. All of you. For your support, for your love, for your passion.
Let this be a day of clarity. Let today remind you to connect with others. Share in your pain. Marvel and grieve. Trump's presidency is a result of us not really seeing each other or our country for who we are and what it is.
We can fix that. We can fix it especially if the elevation of Trump wakes us up to the truth of bigotry.
I see a lot of surprised white people this morning. Im talking to you now surprised white people.
I wanna bring you in for an empathy moment. This feeling you have right now. Amazement that the country could be so short-sighted, that it could embrace hate so tightly?
This despair and dread you feel. The indignation, the bewilderment, the hurt, powerlessness, the fear for family and livelihood?
That knot in your stomach, that feeling of heartache? That uncertainty about your safety? The deep sense of fundamental injustice?
For many marginalized people, this spike in distress you feel this morning is what we feel EVERY morning. That feeling of "How could they possibly...?" is precisely what we feel with every incidence of excused violence, disenfranchisement, denial . I do not say this to diminish what you feel today. What you feel is real and valid.
I'm giving you an opportunity to truly empathize. For it is the lack of that empathy that allowed America to shrug as the marginalized shouted warnings. Today the imaginary wall that divides your experience from ours has come down.
You have the chance to commune with the rest of us. This needs to be a moment where you realize that you are not alone in your pain.
That there are those of us who know it intimately. Let this be the last time you are surprised by the prevalence of virulent hatred in this country.
Let it be a moment that opens your eyes . This is a time that you can move on from the childish insistence that America is #1, grow up and recognize it as gravely ill. This can be a time for you to stop side-eying those who insist that something is and has always been something deeply wrong. Skip the hand wringing about how you didn't see this coming and move to the part where you get on board to come down into the trenches. I see people talking about how Trump is #NotMyPresident.
Yes he damn well is.
It's really important that you get this cause its key. Compartmentalizing this problem solves exactly nothing.
Refusing culpability for America's actions is how we GOT Trump. Trump is an opportunistic infection that America let fester and grow in an immunocompromised environment. America's neglect of its own health comes directly from its stubborn insistence that nothing is as bad as it looks . When we minimized the outrage about rape, about racism, about fascism and ignorance, about marginalization we created a space ripe for Trump. Trump is our President because we and the people who voted for him are still in the same boat as much as we'd like to deny it. Another country didn't elect Trump. This one did. Your neighbors and relatives and co-workers and friends did. We are inextricably bound. We cannot wish this half of America away.
But we can sure as hell challenge it.