A little over 24 hours prior to this post, I got up to help make history at the polls as soon as they opened. As I stood in line for about a half hour, I remembered the excitement of voting for the first black President the last two times I stood in that same line. And for all of Hillary Clinton’s flaws, I was excited to vote for the first woman President. But to be honest, I was even more excited to see the epic shutdown of one of the biggest, most unwarranted egos I’ve ever seen.
It’s just plain true: I wanted Trump to lose more than I wanted Hillary to win. Not solely because I was against his policies, but also because I was exhausted from 2 years of his antics, his attitude, his very name. I knew the silent majority was a real thing (or he wouldn’t have made it as far as he had), but I trusted that the majority of the American people were at the very least in possession of enough intelligence and self-pride to not elect someone with so little tact, diplomacy, common sense, regard for others, and plain humanity. Yes; as much as I knew about what America is and what America has been, I thought I knew enough about where America was headed to count on America ultimately, collectively saying: “Okay, this whole thing has been a lot of laughs, but the jig is up now.”
So I left the polls with my head high, confident that I’d done my little part to fight the storm of hate. Even then, I knew what my vote meant, and what it did not. I knew that my vote was mostly a symbolic gesture in the ever-Democratic non-state of DC, for all paltry 3 of the electoral votes that would be worth. I knew that I’d contributed to a staged, outdated two-party system, giving not a thought to the Green or Independent candidates who I’m sure could have brought much to the table. I knew that Hillary’s hands weren’t clean and that even if she won she would probably face a Republican Congress who would greet her with the same icy deadlock that her predecessor dealt with. I knew that Obama hadn’t been the savior many had hoped for; the one who I wrote starry-eyed poetry for 8 years ago in the name of the Martin, the Rosa, and the Holy Malcolm. I knew that every hashtagged name that I shouted out in my #SoGoneChallenge this year was a black life taken by police and that most of them were killed on the watch of my beloved Black Superman; my swagnificent Commander-In-Chief who balled so hard and spoke so well. I knew that the American political process was such a corrupted, troubled, long-furrowed knot that no election could disentangle it. I knew that local elections would likely affect my life more than the presidential. And I knew that regardless of who held what office big or small, I was still responsible for my life and those I affected, and for how I carried my own interactions thereof in pursuit of my dreams.
So I went about my day tweeting jokes about both candidates to pass the time, coincidentally bumping a mixtape I made at the top of 2001, just a couple of months after the infamous Night Of The Hanging Chad. I had a great workout and an even better breakfast. I attended a workshop for a teaching artistry grant then headed to my job. Basically, I lived my life with the election but a side note in the back of my mind. Before the results started coming in, I attributed to the heralded Emmy-winning #ElectionNight merely the mild excitement I would lend to an impending sport contest between two teams, neither of which was “my team,” but one of which I really hoped dogged the other simply because I was ambivalent about the former but straight up couldn’t stand the latter.
When I got off work, Trump had won the great state of Texas, giving him a sizable bump. I raised an eyebrow, but I was still confident. So I tweeted playful comparisons of Trump to Emperor Palpatine of Star Wars and stuck around to joke about the suspense with my coworkers. When CNN peppered us with their groundless projections and laughable “KEY ELECTION ALERTS” which usually just listed several states as being “still too close to call,” I joked about the difference between your parents announcing that dinner was ready and announcing that they would soon announce that they were ready to start thinking about asking you to set the table. And my coworkers laughed, because there was yet space to laugh. And I felt good about breaking the tension, because it was still thin enough to break.
So I went home with several crucial undeclared states still hanging in the balance. I watched on my phone with growing concern as counts climbed and county after county, state after state, electoral vote after vote, went red. I got home and fought sleep as C-SPAN courted callers. Dems calling just to say they were shocked into speechlessness but still hopeful. Republicans gloating from the safety of their anonymity. Independents admitting with shame (?) that they’d voted for Trump because they just plain didn’t like or trust Hillary. I went to sleep with the race still “too close to call” (that infamous phrase which still probably haunts Al Gore).
And I woke up to a Red Senate, a Red House Of Representatives, and yes, my fear of all fears, a Red White House.
I just looked outside. Even the leaves are red. And they waved at me, as if to say: “Welcome to a Brave New World. Welcome to Donald Trump’s America.”
If you’re looking for me to give you The Answers, searching for The Next Steps, stop here. Any delusions of sageness that I may have held have been dropped in the same pile as my faith in the overall sense and sensibilities of “We The People” and my groundless belief that the saidsame would ultimately make this election a landslide in the other direction. As everyone who has ever had a parent or a kindergarten teacher has heard at some point: “Common sense is not so common.”
So what now?
When I think about my #ElectionDay, I think about the fact that it started and ended with election business. But most of the day was the middle. How did I spend the middle?
I worked on my body and my spirit. I worked on my resources and my goals. And I worked to shed light in the face of darkness, whether through joking, tweeting, or planning a teaching artistry residency. I enjoyed my music. I communicated with my friends. I planned for the future. I lived life.
Much of what I say is easy for me to say as a non-immigrant cis heterosexual man. I am not personally facing the possibility of myself and/or family members being deported. I am not a gay spouse anticipating the negation of my union. I am not a woman contemplating the implications for Roe v. Wade. And I am not of the transgender community, already dealing with heaven-knows-how-much trauma, in an openly unfriendly country now empowered by an unfeeling bigot in its highest office.
I know how a lot of you are feeling right now. Stunned, saddened, and angry. Disenfranchised, dejected, and angry. And let’s not forget the angry who were always angry. The ones who can’t believe our disbelief. The revolutionaries of righteous rage who will rest their Resting Rage Faces today to smile sardonically and say: “I told you so.” The ones whose hatred for AmeriKKKa is matched only by their disdain for your belief, however faint, in a better America. The ones who have been practicing their sarcastic barbs for the 8 years that your non-white and/or female and/or LGBTQQ and/or otherwise liberal asses have lowered your guard under the “Token Totem” of a black President. One of those barbs may today may poke you right in your tear-reddened eyes or in what’s left of your battle-weary pride, provoking you to fight.
I ask one thing: don’t fight each other. That’s exactly what the enemy wants.
If you are angry, use your anger. The Silent Majority did, and it worked for them. Strategize, organize, mobilize, and execute. But not just politically. Personally. As Marvin Gaye said: “Vote for you.” Work toward positive outcomes in your own life. Hold your family and friends close. Learn their needs and speak to those. Provide encouragement to the people who need it throughout these days.
I am empowered by the testimonies of parents, teachers, and principals who spent last night rough drafting what they would say to their students and children today. They were already thinking in recovery mode, as leaders must. There will be many tasks to take up in the coming times. Let us take them up, using them as opportunities to develop our own gifts and use them for good. This was the point of this whole life the whole time anyway. We are now simply reminded.
To all of my fellow artists? It is officially SHOWTIME. People need inspiration now more than ever. Singers, dancers, visual artists, filmmakers . . swallow all the emotions of this moment, digest them, and unleash the fury of all that “shit” as your frantic magic from studios to stages. Comics, use your creativity to conjure humor out of all this hubris. And if you call yourself a writer, you’d better be damned sure I’ll be looking for you to document, process, and editorialize all the nasty-but-necessariness of these days of destroy and rebuild.
I don’t believe in telling other people how to feel. Everyone will respond to these events and their ramifications for the future as their spirits see fit. But I for one refuse to give up on working toward a better world. I refuse to allow depression to debilitate my destiny. Much pain has been exposed. The people need healing. And I’ve always seen myself as a healer.
So I’m ready to work.
By now, you’ve probably all seen the viral video of that little iguana who, against all odds, managed to escape all those snakes. Due to its strength. Due to its speed. Due to its craftiness, tenacity, and outright stubborn will to LIVE.
Well, my friends, the truth is this: we be that iguana. We’ve BEEN being that iguana. Running fast. Running hard. Running scared. But more than anything, running on the fossil fuel of those who came before us; on their, and our, outright stubborn will, against all odds, to LIVE.
And, in the words of my friend Will Da Real 1, “So I run . . ”
#KeepRunning #AtLeastNowWeCanSeeTheSnakes #VoteForYou #MotivationalFreaker #DINE #DopeIsNeverEnough #BiggerThanTheGovernment #iWork