It’s hard to deny that the world changed last night. And I don’t say that in a “boo hoo, I didn’t get by way” sense. I mean we elected a man whose statements and values align closer to foreign dictators our country has fought against than the principles of freedom and respect so many have fought for. We had a dream of a country in which the rights of women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ individuals, and people of various faiths would continue to advance. And it seems that in one unexpected swoop, that vision has been swept aside in favor of an America that is fear-based, hate-filled, and overwhelmingly white.
We have no choice but to accept that this is the man who will lead us for the next four years. We don’t have to like it or support it, but we must accept it. It is the reality we will live in. And as we grieve, we face inevitable decisions about how to move forward.
So how do we build a nation of hope and love and equality under the leadership of a man who values none of those things?
For me, the answer is simple.
Mr. President, we will do it without you.
You don’t want to welcome Muslim people into our country? Fine. We will create spaces where Muslim people feel like welcomed and valued parts of our communities. People of other faiths will attend services at mosques and get to know our Muslim neighbors. We will celebrate them and the beautiful diversity they bring to our country.
You want to deny rights to LGBTQIA+ people? Fine. We will celebrate the members of that community and march through the streets with rainbow flags held high, so that you never forget that they and their allies are citizens of this country, too. We will fight in our own institutions, like our workplaces, to decrease discrimination and increase visibility and social justice. We will raise our children to know that they live their lives however they see fit and love whomever they wish, and we will protect them from the kind of bigotry you espouse.
You want to denigrate the lives of people of color and endorse a system in which people are shot for their skin color? Fine. We will gather around our brothers and sisters of color and speak out against such atrocities every time they happen. We will document with video when we can, and take to the street every time another black or brown person dies so that you never forget that we believe their lives matter.
You want to repeal women’s rights, objectify our bodies, and openly treat us with disrespect? Fine. We will stand stronger in our truth and celebrate our feminine strength. We will run for office on the state, local, and national levels until you are so surrounded by strong, forward-thinking women that you have no room to hide behind your cries of “locker room talk” and misogynistic dismissals.
You want to bully people who don’t agree with you? Fine. We will be so extraordinarily kind to each other, your angry words will sound like nothing at all. You will fade into the background, looking like a relic from a darker, less-enlightened, more hate-filled era of our history.
One thing is certain: We cannot give in to defeat. We cannot back down from the extraordinary fight that lays before us. We cannot let fear overcome the love we have for one another and the basic belief that all lives deserve dignity, compassion, and respect.
In this time of darkness, sadness, and confusion, we must turn toward each other. We must remember the things that bring us together and recognize the beauty and fire in each others’ hearts. We must unite our voices and our actions to create the future we’ve dreamed of all along.
Remember what she said.
We are stronger together, my friends.