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How to Move From Fear to Action

I woke up this morning and for a few blessed moments, almost an entire minute, did not remember how the world had changed. It was nice today--the sun was up, it looked to be a beautiful day, crisp and fresh--and as I looked out our second-story window and caught a glimpse of the Washington Monument a couple miles away...reality came rushing back.

I marvel at how different things feel today. Yesterday, Wednesday morning, I woke up after getting to bed at midnight, still not knowing how the election had turned out, but fearing the worst. It took no more than two minutes to switch on the television and find out that, indeed, Trump had won, but by then I was consumed by fear.

The fear held, for awhile. I couldn't imagine going outside into the streets of my town, Arlington, Virginia. I envisioned armed men (those visions were always of men, angry white men, actually) roaming the streets, emboldened by the success of their candidate, waving guns and feeling justified in carrying out any number of the threats they and their candidate have heaped upon us in the past two years. I was truly afraid, and could feel the physical symptoms of it in my body. It felt like the natural outcome of the unable-to-breath sense of anxiety I'd had for weeks.

Hillary Clinton finally gave her concession speech at almost noon and when she teared up, apologizing to the women, like me, who had supported her, saying she was sorry she could not be our champion, I finally cried. It was over, and I was really disappointed, but the fear started to loosen its hold.

So, there was sadness, and it came soon after the fear had started to lift. It didn't take long, though, for sadness to give way to anger. I saw reports that Clinton had actually won the popular vote. I was outraged, although not surprised. Then, I saw reports that more than 50% of white women had voted for Trump. More anger, but not surprised--I have known too many women who really don't want to see a strong woman in power. I'm not sure why they feel this way, but I have no patience for women who think you have to "like" someone to support them and their work.

I listened, with increasing disgust, to pundit after pundit saying they just didn't see this coming, that all the polls were wrong, and how did this happen anyway? They just weren't listening to the right people, it seemed to me. Anger turned to resolve, and this was hours before thousands of young people poured into the streets around the country to protest. They're young and have not lived through as many setbacks as I have. This may be the first time they've believed in something and had it taken away by the system--but it's not the first time for me. And I know we can overcome this. We've overcome worse.

A lot of what I was writing in my head about this has already been said. Read Michael Moore's "Morning After To-Do List," in which he calls for taking over the Democratic Party and "returning it to the people," abolishing the electoral college (long overdue, in my this article about the roots of the electoral college in slavery), but mostly calling for people to stop saying they're "stunned" or "shocked," when what they really mean is they weren't paying attention or listening to the right voices.

Take some time to grieve or be stunned, if that's what you need, but there's work to be done. Let's move beyond the understandable fear of the unknown, and beyond the sadness at having our dreams dashed, and get busy. This is still a democracy, not a dictatorship, and we must be vigilant for any signs that we are moving in that direction. Keep speaking up and speaking out. I've got your back.


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