In the aftermath of a shifting reality that I can no longer make sense of, I have found myself in a strange place of speechlessness while at the same time, needing more than ever, the words to express my deep devastation over the results of last night’s election. I come to you from a place of intense sadness, from a place where I am not only at a loss for words, but from a place where I am simply lost, wandering endlessly across plains of denial, fear and anger. A place where fear and anger seem to be the only emotions worth acting on, where a malicious fury seems to be the only weapon in my arsenal. It would be easy to drop my head, to dig in and lash out, to scream and kick and tantrum until I am blue in the face and my hands are stained by the mudpit I have jumped into. It would be easy to hate. If we can learn anything from Donald Trump’s success, it certainly is that.
I sit here now, writing and re-writing, unable to find the right combination of letters to express my deep apology for how this country has failed you and to deliver a thank you worthy of my gratitude for the hope your campaign instilled within me. Because, even after it all, I cling to that in order to keep my head above the waves. However, I would be a liar to pretend that I was always on your side. And now, the ways in which I originally alienated myself from your ambition are what I am most ashamed of. Though I voted— and that vote was for you— it was not enough to make up for the ways in which I refused to speak up in defense of your character or for the ways in which I failed to change the rhetoric surrounding your campaign. It would be easy to exclude myself from the group of people who fell short. But I can’t because, in reality, I have failed you, too.
What I’m trying to say is, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that in exchange for your vows to protect my rights and the rights of my loved ones (those excluded from the whiteness and maleness of America’s most privileged), I met you with skepticism. I’m sorry that as a proud feminist, I allowed the institutionalized sexism and misogyny of the media to inform my perception of you. I’m sorry for the ignorance of statements such as, “I’m voting for her but—.” What I should’ve said was, “I’m voting for her because there is no choice between a strong, qualified woman and bigoted, misogynistic reality TV star.” I should’ve been unapologetic in my support for you in the same way that you were unapologetic about your rights to step into a male-dominated arena and fight for mine. Though I no longer have the power to make you president, I have the power to carry forth your legacy.
In your concession speech this morning, you urged young women to keep fighting, you encouraged us to believe that we were truly valuable and strong and powerful in our femaleness. That we are a force to be reckoned with. Where I have disappointed you before, I will not disappoint you here. I’m still with you though you should know you are with me too— your grace, your strength, your ambition and your unwavering dedication— I thank you for the inspiration your remarkable campaign has given me. I find that it is time to repay that favor.
Over the next four years, I will refuse to let your legacy go unacknowledged. I will fight for women’s healthcare rights, for the right to choose. I will fight against the mass deportation and demonization of religious and ethnic groups. I will fight for the state of our earth, I will fight for working mothers, for single mothers struggling against poverty. I will fight against police brutality, institutionalized racism, and the ease with which dangerous weapons can be attained in the pursuit of senseless violence. I will be fearless and unbreakable. I will acknowledge that my privilege grants me a platform to utilize my voice but that existing outside of the Boy’s Club doesn’t excuse me of the responsibility to fight alongside those who are still fighting for a platform of their own. I will invoke my voice as a weapon of change, owning and reclaiming rhetoric but never drowning out the voices that have been ignored for centuries of American history. I will not accept that America was ever been great but I will never stop hoping that someday it can be.
Above all, I will not cower at the feet of men with hatred in their hearts and bullets between their teeth. I will not be afraid of men who are under-qualified, over-privileged and deeply underestimated dangers to the sovereignty of those who are most threatened by his bigotry and hatred. I will stand with them, skin and bone and iron and grit. Because, we are stronger together and because no matter what, love will always trump hate. It was essayist Diane Glancy who said, “There are some stories that take you seven days to tell. There are other stories that take you all your life.”
As far as I’m concerned, we’re just getting started.
Featured image here.