Four years ago, I joined three friends to march on Washington DC in protest of the election of Donald Trump. While distraught at that time given how Trump showed up in his campaign and by the fact that he lost the popular vote by 2.87 million, I was also still naive.
Four years ago, I did not know how fragile our democracy truly was, nor how brazen Trump and his supporters would be in their attack on the basic rights of so many. Since that time, we have seen cruel immigration policies that tore children from their families (and have still not reunited 100's of them), open attacks on people of color, blatant cronyism, and policies that have left us more vulnerable as a nation. Our environment has been traded in for profit, and individuals with the most need now have decreased access to resources. Meanwhile, the rich have gotten far richer. And, in the midst of a pandemic, where other first-world nations have found the means to get it under control, Covid-19 rages unchecked. To date, more than 400,000 people have died in the United States.
Four years ago, I thought that I understood the impact of bias and racism in this country, but my eyes have been opened. I have seen many people, including family members, look the other way while Trump attacked people of color and voiced support for White Supremacists. Trump has emboldened those among us who harbor biases and hate and we are all less safe because of it. While Trump lost the election, more than 74 million Americans voted for him and wanted another four years of the hate, lies, chaos, and blame that have marked the last four. We as a country are deeply divided. There is evidence of that just this week in my small town where a man stood outside with a rifle while a peaceful procession honoring Dr. King passed by.
Today, I join with millions who are breathing a sigh of relief as Trump exits the White House and President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris take the helm. With this transition, we will have our first-ever woman, African American, and South East Asian American Vice President! Today, I can feel the stirrings of hope that we can rebuild our country and heal from the past four years.
Today, however, is not a sign that we can just return to normal. Speaker and activist Sonya Renee Taylor explains where we are so well. She says, "We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature."
The gift of the past fours year is that we as a collective nation see more clearly the destructive impact of hate, systemic racism, and of “othering.” Today, we must find a way to reach across our divides to join together from a place of love and community. Today, we must start to learn from the lessons of our past (and not just the last four years) to reimagine an America that truly embraces and empowers us all. I am deeply inspired to get going and I hope you will join me. We CAN do this!