I spent the last week after the elections, and while awaiting the outcomes, in deep reflection.
The recent U.S. elections, including for President, left me holding a multitude of complex responses and emotions.
Triumph and tragedy…
Thoughts about identity and humanity…
Reflections on surface appearances and what lies beneath…
Election day made some things incredibly clear to me, we have much to be concerned about. The vast number of votes for a candidate who has been boldly self-centered and “other hating” fell squarely in the category of “disappointed but not surprised” for me.
I’ve been in this “destination” many times before (documented above in 2017), and multiple times in this year of 2020 alone!
As we’ve watched the needless suffering and deaths of so many Americans (rapidly approaching 240,000 and tragically still increasing as of November 9, 2020) from COVID-19 due to a lack of discipline, severe leadership deficit, and a lack of shared commitment to prioritize the collective over the individual.
I’ve also arrived at the unwanted “surprised but not disappointed” destination in my area of work in higher education. Countless individuals pledged to “do better” in the summer as they participated in #ShutDownAcademia #ShutDownSTEM in June 2010. In most cases, we still await substantial and visible outcomes, as well as committed paths to long-term change, associated with those pledges.
So in the past days as it became clear that so many Americans—approaching 71 million at the time of writing this post—made their way or sent their ballot to the polls in support of all that the outgoing President represented (indeed represents about the state of relations in the U.S.), I was literally stopped in my tracks momentarily and confronted with continuing truths about this country.
Because I can hold and process multitudes, I refused to go on without stopping to acknowledge and to appropriately celebrate that slightly more Americans voted for the Biden/Harris ticket and, thus, it appears that we will resume some “normalcy” to our U.S. politics. However, I also fully held, and continue to hold, the simultaneous truth that “normalcy” isn’t all it should, can, or in my hopeful days, will be for some of us—too many of us who have been marginalized, minoritized, and traumatized, even before these last 4 years.
So as I discussed in a recent talk for #BlackInMicro Week, for many who are marginalized in this country, we too frequently meet triumph and tragedy simultaneously. For me most recently this has meant celebrating my son’s graduation from high school in the large shadow of the murder of George Floyd, officially starting a new professional role nearly simultaneously with the tragedy of injustice related to Breonna Taylor’s murder, and now welcoming the news of a change in the presidential office, together with the historic nature of Kamala Harris’s vice presidency, in the face of the reality of that ~71 million votes.
That VAST numbers of supporters for the lunacy, traumatization, and so much worse that so many have faced for the past four years was something that I processed quietly, yet deeply. Indeed, the impact has been profound and ongoing.
I understand that so much of it is the realization of how we have so harmfully prioritized individual over collective time and again. How the fact that 71 million individuals could vote for a desire to continue under the U.S.’s current leadership represents the numerous ways in which identity is prioritized over humanity—again the individual over the shared/collective.
I understand how and why so many have felt a need to publicly celebrate the election outcomes. It is indeed celebration worthy; yet, I am deeply troubled and impacted daily—even from hour to hour, and minute to minute—not only by what the surface celebrations represent in terms of people rightly feeling relief, and maybe some feeling hope. I am even more deeply impacted by what lies beneath…what that 71 million represents about what lies beneath.
There is so much that we need to confront, address, and root out.
But I’ll leave those thoughts for another day, another time…there is reason to celebrate, but there’s also reason (in fact more than 71 million reasons) for me to continue to stand as firmly as ever rooted as a truth teller and to prepare to continue working boldly for change and much needed transformation.
I will undoubtedly do so, but I must first continue to prioritize processing.
I need to further reflect and recover, and to continue to strategize and prepare…even as the celebrations prevail. The worthy recognition of this historic moment for women and the marginalized who see themselves represented for the first time as VP deserve due attention and celebration, as we continue to hope for (and boldly work towards) better days ahead.