That feeling you've got right now, the one that you've had since about 9:30pm EST last night? The bewilderment and desperation, the shock and the flailing questions about how could this happen and what has become of your country and what kind of world are you building for your children?
You're maybe feeling it for the first time, and it is deeply disturbing, leaving you feeling hopeless, angry, and unmoored.
The thing is, there is a whole segment of the country that has been feeling that feeling for decades—people who, because of the color of their skin, or because of their gender, or because of where they or their parents or their grandparents were born, or because of their religion have lived their lives knowing that the country they call home does not consider them full citizens.
So maybe now, instead of thinking about how you're going to shut off the news, or about who's to blame that the other side won, maybe now it is time to listen to what the people who know this feeling—who have lived this experience for years and decades—are saying, what they have been saying.
And then maybe you figure out what you're going to do with that.
This is not an I-told-you-so or a snide/faux-savvy suggestion that you ought not to have been surprised by any of this, and while it's written in the second person, it's a conversation I have been having with myself all day long and half the night before.
Marco Rogers has a really good thread on Twitter starting with this tweet:
Sharing this again. This is the right thought today. This isn't a fluke. This is who we are. Once we accept it, maybe we can start the work. https://t.co/LoueYqNr4C— Marco Rogers (@polotek) November 9, 2016
His thesis is that white liberals may have done a good job of separating ourselves from our racist compatriots, but in doing so, we have failed to address the underlying problem of white racism in this country. We have moved out of the red states, we block and unfriend our racist friends and family on Facebook, we refuse to talk politics with them when we go home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. That all may make us feel better about ourselves, but it doesn’t really do anything about the fact that there still exists a longstanding and widespread racist reality in large swathes of the country.
It is hard to read, but I tend to think Rogers is onto something.
The fact of it is, voting for Hillary Clinton, or any Democrat or progressive, or even just not for Trump may be necessary, but it is not sufficient to make this country a better place. Yesterday's results and the forces that drove them are only a surprise to those of us who have not had our faces rubbed daily in the fundamental inequalities and violence of the country in which we live. The question each of us needs to ask now is, what are willing to do about it? What are we willing to set aside in our lives to actually make things better for our fellow citizens?