2020 was supposed to be the year we woke up from the horrible nightmare that began with the 2016 presidential election. It was supposed to be the year that our passionate cries for a return to civility, humanity and what was right about America were answered. It was a year that we were able to finally put away pink pussy hats and marching pumps, having reached our goal of grabbing them at the polls and returning the House, Senate and White House to the people.
I had even started writing my fiery remarks to deliver at the 2020 Women's March to send my sisters — and every progressive-leaning voter they passed along the way — to the polls. It wasn't going to be a blue wave, it was going to be a damn tsunami! But little did we know that our fall down the rabbit hole would be so deep that it would require Amazonian efforts to escape!
We had candidates, so many candidates, but we were able to — despite our differences — come together behind one. And while, like a modern-day Nero, the president tweeted on fanning division, we marched not just for women but for young and old, from all communities for social justice, against racism, bigotry and hatred. Then in November, we did it by mail. Early and at the polls, we did it starting the process to end the orange scourge and begin the healing.
So how do we "Build Back Better"? How do we go beyond slogans to create real change? How do we stay engaged, stay "woke," stay empowered to prevent another 45? But most importantly how do we heal the divisions in our communities with accountability? Life will never be like it was before!
Due to COVID-19 over 300,000 friends, families, co-workers and neighbors have died in this country — Leaders, change-makers, future leaders, keepers of the dream. Just because 45 is gone, the work continues. Remember almost 75 million voted for Donald J. Trump!
So how do we fix this mess?
Let us start by putting the final nail in the coffin of the GOP that has enabled, by action or silence, this wave of conservatism that excludes, discriminates and denies rights. Remember these tRumpsters in 2022 and send them packing. Don't get me wrong, I am not saying "vote blue, no matter who." What I am saying that there need to be viable political choices. We got behind Joe and Kamala for the win but there were some other important ideas brought forth that should not be forgotten. And let's break down the evangelical-political machine. There is a reason for the separation of church and state — IJS! There is a role for churches in the community to feed the hungry, provide refuge/shelter for those in need and promote a message of love. Stay in your lane and out of politics.
Time to ratchet back the anger! I admit I am guilty. If you had too many American Flags on your truck, I made an assumption about your politics and rolled my eyes. If you walked like a "Karen," talked like a "Karen" and looked like a "Karen," I gave you a very cold shoulder. I considered certain areas — counties, suburbs, etc. — as enemy territory. Even now when I see someone without a mask, I bristle.
Now is the time to use our words to speak up for what is truth, to find common ground, say thank you and be generous. It's also time to call out the BS and the perpetrators complicit to the crimes against our humanity not just over the past four years but in the past. Grab them at the polls! The blue tsunami may not have happened but let's keep that slow roll going to 2022!
Black lives STILL matter so don't put your T-shirts and posters away. Lift up Black voices. Keep the difficult conversations on race going in every community and march for our lives. Ending systemic racism isn't a one-election fix and its not all on Black people. White folks, your T-shirt does not absolve you – do the work.
There's so much we need to do to move forward, to build back better. But most importantly we must remember each and every day that over 300,000 people have died from COVID-19.
They died in part because some chose politics over science, because winning and personal gain was placed over human life. They died because many ignored the wise words of Spock — refusing to wear masks, or socially distance even marching on state capitals like Lansing bearing arms protesting infringement on their personal rights — when logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.
2020 was the year we climbed out of the rabbit hole transporting us from the surreal state of the past four years. It threw everything at us including the proverbial kitchen sink. And even though we have yet to hear a concession speech, we won the battle and came out on the other side.
Our numbers are fewer, the challenges remain great, but the possibilities are limitless. We can build back, and forward, better and stronger together.
Michelle E. Brown is a public speaker, activist and author. Her blog radio podcast "Collections By Michelle Brown-Blog Radio" airs every Thursday at 7 p.m. Current and archived episodes can be heard on Blog Talk Radio, iTunes, Stitcher or SoundCloud. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram