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Many are wondering what the holy hell happened Nov. 8. Progressive/liberals/dreamers believed, as a society, we had grown — evolved to be inclusive and more embracing of our nation’s expanding diversity.
After all, we had elected Barack Obama, an African-American, not once but twice as president of the United States.
Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was gone, so LGBTQ Americans could serve with pride in the military and the Supreme Court had secured the right for LGBTQ couples to stand before friends and family declaring their love as legally married spouses. Women, African-Americans, Latinos and other communities of color were heading businesses, colleges and being elected to legislative seats at local and national levels.
We had taken steps to ensure that our neighbors had access to affordable healthcare. Our country had welcomed immigrants from around the world (as many as 42.4 million in 2014) who added diversity and strength to communities across the nation.
Even though some detractors pushed back, we were, despite our differences, recognizing that we could be stronger together.
There were still problems but outwardly it looked like we were evolving even ready at last to break that glass ceiling. Many finally recognized that the glass ceiling wasn’t a single clear pane. It was/is thick and wide, more of a prism than a clear pane and represents not just inequality for women but for black, brown, LGBTQ, disabled, immigrants, poor and everyone for whom opportunities and access have been denied.
It couldn’t have been clearer! So what happened? Why did it happen? And, more importantly, where do we go from here?
First of all, let’s take a deep breath.
I’m going to leave the rehash to the pundits and analysts who are happy to tell you who voted, how they voted and where they voted. They have relentlessly been giving their point of view since things started to go south on election night. The reasons and explanations are many and nuanced but let’s talk about the real.
The real is that this is America 00 a country founded on great principles. Principles we believed transcended time and their literal meaning to represent beliefs, truths that we held to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, endowed with certain unalienable Rights, including Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Believing in this promise, we took “Men: to mean humankind and despite being written in a time when patriarchy was the rule, we credited our “founding fathers” with the wisdom and foresight to use words that were expansive, would evolve to include all who called America home.
But the real is that although the words were expansive the politics/laws that developed, this promise were designed to maintain a system that did not include future Americans.
We tried to fix it but it’s became like a wound on our country’s skin. It started unblemished, then it got that scrape. We put a Band-Aid on it, but it never healed and the injustices/inequities festered under our well intentioned fixes.
We put the 13th amendment bandage on it and abolished slavery and involuntary servitude, but left a little bit of dirt in the wound which left the door for mass incarcerations of African-Americans under Jim Crow and continues to ooze with the inequities of the school-to-prison pipeline on communities of color.
We put the 19th amendment bandage on it giving women the right to vote, but left that little bit of dirt that did not ensure they would receive equal wages for equal labor, or protect their reproductive rights.
And we can’t forget that 12th amendment bandage that established the Electoral College which I’m sure made sense in 1804, but our expanding, mobile, diverse society in 2016 once again is superseding the vote of the people for an archaic formula that no longer has relevancy.
For years we have been slapping one Band-Aid after another on this broke system. The Obama Band-Aid was supposed to move us into a post-racial society but didn’t heal the blood from the wounds that that had seeped out with the murders of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland and far too many murdered for being black.
It didn’t heal the wound that festered from the blood of African-Americans incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites or the scourge of 58 percent African-Americans and Latinos comprising all prisoners even though, in 2008, African-Americans and Latinos made up only approximately one quarter of the U.S. population.
The LGBTQ movement got its Band-Aids too. The Matthew Shepard-James Byrd Law,repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and marriage equality. But left behind bubbling unhealed wounds caused by the damage of the lack of workplace non-discrimination rules; “ex- gay” conversion therapy; LGBT youth homelessness; and widespread anti-trans violence that has seen over 20 deaths in 2016.
The Band-Aids quit sticking. The wound was too deep, too messy. The progressive/liberal/dreamers wanted to ease it off so we could get in there and clean things up. But on Nov. 8 it got ripped off, snatched off. The seepage from our nation’s unhealed wounds didn’t ooze out: it exploded in anger, hate and fear.
This election and the ugly rhetoric building up to Nov. 8 has left many of us in shock.
There’s no escaping it. Now we must deal with the ugly bleeding wound that has always been there underneath our bandages festering in the hearts and minds of faces we thought were friends, family and neighbors while caring for and supporting those most vulnerable who will surely feel the brunt of the tumultuous days ahead.
So now what? We/our country is a bloody, nasty mess. We have to get in there and honestly look at what divides us, what scares us and what will bring us together. We have to clean out/up our broken democracy, find ways to build bridges — even forgive.
It will be hard work. It will probably get worse before it gets better. There will be more blood and ugliness, but with vigilant attention, consistent care/action, fresh air/voices,
gained understanding, and love for all humankind we can heal.
We have to because we can only be stronger together.