I have to say the last few days have been inspiring and helpful to my hope. One might think, based on this election season, it is because of it looking like Joe Biden will ultimately be our President...but it isn’t.
The two days after Election Day had had me struggling. What this election process revealed, in a big way, is that nearly 50% of our country is willing to buy into conspiracy theories, believe lies, and support a person who mocks and denigrates people over human decency for the sake of...well, I'm not even sure I know or understand that part. In a regular election, I could write it off as only a small percentage of Americans, but the 50% I’m referring to represented more people than have ever voted before, so it was more of an exact representation and reflection of our country than we’ve ever had.
As the election results were coming out, I watched my BIPOC friends post comments on the day after the election saying they were disappointed, but not surprised, that so many voted for this kind of behavior. Honestly, I guess I was. Despite what I see and hear from friends and family, I wanted to believe...I chose to believe...that we, as a White people, are better than we truly are. People of color know better; they always have. We’ve shown them who we are over and over and over. However, for me, seeing it, blatantly, on the TV screen was hard for me to swallow. I completely lost hope in the process. I wanted to curl up into a fetal position and make it all go away. I couldn’t understand how people from the civil rights era...people like John Lewis...fought so hard for justice and equality and never gave up in the face of such opposition. And not only that, he always spoke of love for his fellow humans, even in spite of them doing everything in their power to make him feel less human!
By Thursday, my thinking had shifted. I had given up, but Stacey Abrams had not. Two years ago, she lost the election for Governor of Georgia in an election that seemed extremely unfair. Instead of feeling resignation, like I did, Stacey Abrams pulled herself together and got to work...as, I have learned, Black people and people of color do.
I wish I had learned more about our Black and Brown heroes in our textbooks in school, because it is truly the Black and Brown people of our country who give me hope and whose shoulders we stand on. It is the Stacey Abrams’, the Colin Kaepernick’s, the John Lewis’s. But there are also so many others who aren’t in our textbooks and even more who are in our cities fighting for justice for everyone, in spite of the odds...in spite of the setbacks...in spite of the threat to their own economic and physical survival.
In my world, it is Billy Lane, Byron Sanders, David Lozano, Vicki Meek, Vickie Washington, Sara Mokuria, Amber Sims, Jamila Thomas, Rebekah Thomas, Deborah Douglas and the list could go on. My White privilege causes me to look at these efforts and think our world changes because we are getting better as a country. However, what I had to acknowledge this election is that we are not. The reason we are getting better is because of the people of color whose shoulders we stand on. But what I know is that to simply give them a hand clap is shallow. They don't ask for (or need) my praise or anyone else's; they never have.
For those of us with White privilege, it can be easy to get discouraged and want to give up on the justice and equity that needs to happen. It feels like an uphill battle and it feels endless. But, ultimately, we still maintain our privileges in the world, even if we give up.
I will never understand or be able to fathom the vast injustices people of color receive on a daily basis. But what I can do is listen to them, be led by them, and take direction from them. Kudos, my friends, YOU are making us a better country and a better place to live. Thank you for your unending patience and perseverance. May we all follow your lead and your direction.
White privilege is being in charge of the narrative.