In Writing

I thought I’d cry, but I am numb. Scared to my bones. I went to sleep close to 3:00 local (4:00 am Eastern), with a list of results to check in the morning. Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Minnesota. Maybe she could still pull it off. Right before I turned off the TV, I saw that she had called him to concede. I couldn’t watch his victory speech.

I slept fitfully, and had nightmares. In one an old man chased me and then became a skeleton that but the skin of my ankles and held on by its teeth as I tried to run away. (Although it felt like a terrifying existential threat, true to form, even in my dream, I remember thinking, “I wonder if this will make a good plot and if I’ll remember it in the morning”).

It’s now six am local and I’m up again, sleep elusive. I feel a terrible, sinking doom. Last night the automatic triggers stopped the stock futures because markets were tumbling precipitously. Enemies felt crowded in a little closer. I felt like I wanted to hug everyone who felt as scared as I was, but I am so far from home.

And I wonder: what do we tell children? About preparation and compassion? What do we tell undocumented teens afraid of where they’ll be come January? What do we tell our allies who are concerned about our stability?

I understand this is an older, whiter electorate pumping the brakes on too much change. Eight years of a black man followed by a woman would have been too much for them. I get it. There was always a part of me that wished they’d get their “savior” so that they could see how badly they’d been deceived. But this takes us all off the cliff with them, so I won’t rejoice at their eventual failure.

I am hopeful so much I fear won’t come to pass. The retaliation against political opponents. The emboldening of our enemies. The abuse of power. I feel our history books are stained with the name of this dishonorable man, but we’re stronger than any one person. We’ll persevere.

And I do know this will galvanize those of us who care about equality and justice and women’s rights like nothing else can. This has been a big wake-up call that not all the work is done. That some people in this country are still okay with electing a misogynist that normalizes racism and hate speech. We’d lulled ourselves into thinking that the battles for justice were done, but this is a big reminder that they’re not, not by a long shot.

So we get up, and we fight. We speak up more. We do more. We teach more kids about what matters. And we prevail. Because justice always does, in the end.

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