It’s Tuesday night of Election Day 2016. America is voting for its next President. I’m antsy. Do I really think the American people will vote for Donald Trump? I do. In the back of my mind, I think it’s possible. But I push it way down in my subconscious. I try to bury it, but I know it’s there.
I have an application to complete, so I don’t bother to watch the returns, but my nieces are texting back and forth like crazy. So, I turn on the TV. It’s not looking good for Hillary. I talk to a friend on the phone for over an hour before deciding to go to bed. I’ll find out in the morning. Maybe she can do what the Cubs did and bring home a victory in the 11th hour.
I wake up at 5:00 am. I check my phone. Donald Trump is the president-elect. I think to myself, This is not real. I must be asleep. The American citizens did not vote this man in as leader of the free world. It’s a late work day. I don’t have to be there until 11:30. I try to go back to sleep, but sleep evades me. I don’t know what this means. I don’t know what it says about the country I live in.
I call my mother. She doesn’t answer. She lives in the apartment upstairs from me, so I take my keys and left myself in. She is tiptoeing from the kitchen carrying a bowl of cottage cheese and peaches. Pooch, the dog my nephew left behind is by her side.
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“You know Trump won,” I say.
“Yea, I been up all night. I ain’t been to sleep yet.”
“What we gone do?”
“I don’t know,” says the woman who always has an answer. My mother is an elder, and she is one of the wisest women I know. She has lived through some stuff. Surely she can give me some direction and guidance.
She sits on the bed. I sit next to her. Neither of us has answers, but I have my mother, and she has me. We are each others’ comfort in this storm that is raging. The sun is not up and she has already spoken to two of my siblings. Family is where we seek refuge. My brother (who rarely texts) sends a group text about the future of uncertainty. My sister (who rarely texts) sends a Bible scripture to help us make sense of what doesn’t make sense. We are all stunned. But we know we have each other. And we know that though this battle may be hard, it is not impossible.
I take Pooch out. It’s still dark. I stand on the porch. And nothing is changed—on the surface. But it feels like everything has changed. The silence of the early morning leaves me alone with my thoughts. I was never afraid of Trump, but of his supporters. I knew that he could not be a hate monger by himself. That fear is now my reality. There is a strong aversion to “Other” in this country, and in some ways I am that Other. I am a Black woman, and for the first time in my life I am afraid—really scared about what going’s to happen next.
I’m hoping and praying that over time, these feelings subside. But for now I will sit with them and learn from them, but I will not be consumed by them. I have always loved the activism of the 1960s and believed that I grew up in the wrong decade. I wanted to be an activist. Be careful what you wish for; it just might come true. Perhaps the election of Donald Trump is the call to action that so many of us need to truly Make America Great once and for all. But for that to happen, we have work to do. So much work to do. I’m ready to work? Are you?