HOTTREADS: Volume Eleven

Happy Pi Day! I am here to regale you with my thoughts on February's Nonfiction Challenge #Hottread, THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson.

warmth of other suns, hottread, book review

I'm clearly behind in life as we're already racing through March but it's frickin' snowing in NYC today so honestly, what are months and seasons anyway, except constructs of humanity created in a vain attempt to control the whims of Mother Earth?

time is a flat circle

Is your mind blown? I thought so. 

Ok, back to February we go! First thing's first, this book is very, very, very long. I'm not saying this to discourage you from reading - oh no - but rather giving you a warning up front to allow yourself some time to tackle it, perhaps alongside a reading group with whom you can discuss all you're learning. Don't be like me, basically, foolishly assigning yourself to read the longest book in the shortest month and then panicking when it takes you longer than you thought to finish because you told the internet you'd read it in February and god forbid you let down the internet!!! Don't worry, I saved myself from the brink of meltdown when I remembered this is a one woman book club and literally no one cares.  And, luckily for my pride and the consistency of this book-a-month thing, I managed to finish this baby the night of February 28th, with not a moment to spare. 

Phew.

Ok wow I'm really doing a great job of selling this book, huh? 

THE WARMTH OF OTHER SUNS tells the epic but largely untold story of The Great Migration, the mass exodus of Black Americans from the south to the North, Midwest, and West in the first half of the 20th Century. It was a movement with no defined beginning and no real leader which would completely change the American demographic fabric. Until 1910, more than 90% of Black Americans lived in the South, and most of them in rural areas, and by the 1970's, just under 50% of Black Americans lived in the North, West, and Northwest, with the majority in all regions living in urban areas. This mass migration of Black Americans led to the cities we recognize today - and read about last month in Evicted - ushering in the era of white flight, urban segregation, and broad racially based injustice in housing, education, and employment. 

Wilkerson follows the stories of three everyday Americans: Ida Mae Gladney, a sharecropper's wife who moves from Mississippi to Chicago with her young family; Robert Pershing Foster, a brilliant doctor with big ideas and an ego to match who chases his dreams to Los Angeles; and George Starling, whose rabble-rousing and attempts at unionizing under violent Jim Crow rule in central Florida send him fleeing to New York City for better opportunities, and to not get his ass locked up or much, much worse.  She weaves the life stories of these three, from childhood until very old age, exploring their lives in the South, their motivations for moving, and the lives they built in their new homes. Interspersed with their stories she tells the broader tale of the Great Migration, full of facts, figures, and anecdotes. The main story lines help to give a propulsive, central plot, but this is not a book you can just race through, every page is dense with information. 

I'll admit, I did find this a challenge for me, this isn't a book you can flip through easily on the subway, while trying to balance a coffee and hold onto the pole at the same time. But, again, again, I feel I'm not being a very compelling book reviewer here - I'm just keeping it real about my own shortcomings. I'm very glad I read this book and, if anything, think I did myself a bit of a disservice by trying to cram it into a challenge rather than take my time and absorb the information. I would highly recommend everyone read this and do suggest, as I said up top, bringing in a group to dive into discussion. And invite me? I HAVE A MILLION THOUGHTS. 

Two main takeaways that have lingered with me in the  few weeks since I've read: 

1) Why didn't I know about like, any of this? Granted, it's been a minute since I sat in a high school or college US History class but I don't recall The Great Migration ever being taught. We spent weeks on things like the Gold Rush and the Oregon Trail - white people boldly going where no white people have gone before! - but The Great Migration would have been a footnote, at best, though it did as much to shape the country we live in today. And it's got me thinking about the lens through which history (and let's be real, everything) is taught, and that lens is for sure white, and probably also straight, male, and Christian. Black History - along with Women's History, LGBT+ History, Native History, etc - is always kind of taught as a sidebar, like, here's Real America, kids, and then over here are some other stories. If you're only ever reading books by and about white men, except for a special Black History Month dip into the works of Langston Hughes, or a permission-slip needed, one-day-only lesson on the Stonewall Riots, it is hard, even for the most well-intentioned PBS watchers among us (ahem!) not to subconsciously absorb the narrative of certain people being inherently other.

And by other, I mean lesser

And again, it's been a while since I was in school and I don't know jack about teaching or textbooks but I feel like there's gotta be a better way. Maybe some teachers in the crowd with insights? I'd (TRULY!!) love to discuss and learn more. 

2) Speaking of other people's history, goddamn if Americans ever learn from the past. This book is, of course, chockablock full of anecdotes of immigration and migration, of folks refusing to accept newcomers to their cities, even when recently newcomers themselves. This rejection is especially aimed at those who don't look quite like them, and always, ALWAYS, entirely out of self-interest and fear.

Sound familiar??

There was one story that really crystallized things for me, a brief interlude into the 1800's to touch on the Civil War Draft Riots in NYC in 1863, when a war draft led to five days of violence by Irish immigrants against Blacks living in their city. Wilkerson writes: "Anger rose among Irish working-class men, in particular, who couldn't afford to buy their way out of a war they felt they had not stake in.  They saw it as risking their lives to defend southern slaves, who would, in their minds, come north and only become competition for them." 

Wait, when was that again? 200 years ago? Or last week?

In the past few months, as we talk about refugee crises and border walls, and America turns in on herself, as we debate which lives matter, and how much, I often hear people, usually of the privileged idealist liberal bent, righteously arguing that Trumpian white nationalism doesn't represent "true American values." Unforrrrrrtchhhhhh it kinda does. Those certainly aren't my values, and they may not be yours, but America, for all of her great melting pot rhetoric, does not have the most flawless track record for inclusion. In fact, if there is one trend we see repeating itself over, and over, and over again it is the vilifying and suppression of those we view as other. 

How quickly we forget. How easy it is to lean into our fear. 

It would be nice to think that we've come a long way since 1863, when these scared Irishmen rioted, or 1953, when Robert Pershing Foster arrived in LA and wasn't allowed to practice medicine on white people buuuutttt...have we? IDK, dudes. IDK. 

ANYWAY clearly this book has resonated with me in a major way and I'd encourage you to give it a read, too. I know I made it sound pretty dense and intense and it definitely is both of those things, but it's also incredibly readable and compelling and even moving. I fell so in love with the three people she profiles, and this is going to sound corny, but felt like, honored to get to hear their stories. At the end of the day, these were just straight up regular people - they weren't celebrities or headliners, they were unremarkable, but sharing their stories was a remarkable act. Another key trait of history lessons is that we tend to focus on only the big players, the game changers. And those people are important, obviously, but there's so much to be learned from the lives of everyday people, too. And I'm so grateful for the opportunity to learn from Isabel Wilkerson and from these three remarkably unremarkable stories. 

THE END! Two thumbs way up, would recommend. Have you read it? What did you think? 

As a reminder, 2017 Reading Challenge here & up next: JUST MERCY by Bryan Stevenson. Double dog dare you to join me! 

xoxo Liz Ho 

 

One Awkward Charity Mingle

It has now been 45 days since the 45th POTUS took office and, as you may recall from my post-inauguration, post-women's march manifesto, I have taken the occasion of his election to work towards a few goals: to incite fear of outsiders in the hearts of the American people, play plenty of golf, and go on wildly accusatory rants via my popular Twitter feed. 

And wooooo, doggie have I been successful!!!! 

Oh, wait, sorry I'm mixing things up here. Those are, apparently, the goals of the man now holding the nuclear codes and wow I'm sure glad he's in charge here. As for me, it's a little more like this: don't go insane, access even a small pinch of understanding for "good people" who still voted for The Donald, and become a better citizen. 

And how am I doing? No bueno, no bueno, and... getting there???

I'm still tiptoeing into the bigger political arena. I've been calling my senators (but real talk: not every single day...it's still so daunting and time consuming, excuses, excuses), signing petitions, and I even attended a progressive activism panel hosted by a local district council member! Look at me go!

Just kidding, so, so much room for growth.

But outside of the immediate Trumpian Resistance, my main area of focus on this good citizenry journey has been to become more engaged with my community and use my time and talents to serve and support my neighbors.

As for how that's going, well, if we consider being wildly socially awkward my main talent then it is going just SO GREAT!!

An anecdote:

In the past few months I have found myself moved by the work of a group called CAMBA which has a truly inspiring comprehensive approach to bolstering strong communities here in Brooklyn. They recognize the interconnected nature of issues facing those most in need and their services are holistic: housing, education, addiction counselling, refugee services, job training and more all under one umbrella. They also offer eviction counselling, which you know is my new jam thanks to January's HottRead, so I've been looking to become more involved with them on the ground level. 

I actually first discovered CAMBA through my work, who occasionally partners with them on some corporate responsibility programs. Last year we raised funds for CAMBA through a company-wide walk, and earlier this winter there was an opportunity to go to a CAMBA location for a corporate day of volunteering which I did not, and I can not stress this enough, DID NOT ATTEND. 

~Foreshadowing! ~ 

Somehow or other I ended up on their mailing list and snagged myself an invite to to a swanky informational cocktail reception. After doing several double-takes, checking that the e-vite was, in fact, addressed to me and not some wealthy, cocktail party-attending fancyperson, I enthusiastically clicked "yes!"

A friend was planing to join, but had to bow out to take care of her daughter, which is just like, so unfair. I mean, this kid is almost two I'm pretty sure she can fend for herself for a few hours, but meanwhile I really should not be left to my own devices in public. 

I decided to still attend solo, because I am an adult now, and spent the entire day panicking about how to act normal, even dedicating my full hour of therapy for the week to mature mingling strategies. One of my main sources of anxiety (for the event, duh, there's not enough room on this or any other blog to list allll of my sources of anxiety) was the guilt and shame I have for not being a regularly active community citizen, and I imagined every person in the room listing all of the charity work they do, all the boards they serve on, all the good they've achieved, while I just chugged wine in a corner. We discussed that, when asked about my relationship to CAMBA and presence at the party, it would be best to avoid launching into the full answer of "well, I heard about them through work and then Donald Trump happened and I used to be such a good person and now I never help anyone except myself and I'm constantly abusing my privilege and the guilt is eating me alive and I actually have no idea why or how I ended up at this party I'm such a mess!!!", and instead just keep it simple: "I've been drawn to CAMBA's mission and am excited to hear more."

The evening of the party arrived and, to my surprise, I was feeling generally pretty confident. 'Twas one of those freakishly warm winter days, so I didn't have to worry about a giant coat and was able to wear my favorite big-girl outfit, this really chic navy blue wrap dress that evokes Kate Middleton's engagement look (you know...minus the title, the flowing locks, perfect face, giant sapphire, etc), and the gods had blessed me with a lifetime top ten, maybe even top five hair day so I was pretty much bringing it, on the outside at least. I tried to channel my outer hotness into inner poise as I entered the party venue, a stately brownstone in one of Brooklyn's most chi-chi neighborhoods. 

Things started fine.

I gave my name at the door and was given a little name tag. No issues!

I hung up my coat and purse on the designated coat rack, relieving me of the "wtf will I do with this giant tote bag worries." A win, tbh! 

I fluffed my hair, straightened my dress, took a deeeep breath and entered the main room, whereupon I was immediately greeted by two very friendly CAMBA staffers, one of whom struck up a polite introductory conversation: 

Her: "Hello!"

Me: "Hello!"

Her: "So how are you affiliated with CAMBA?"

Me, confidently: "I've been drawn to CAMBA's mission and am excited to hear more..."

END SCENE, flawless execution, you did it Liz, you're a champ. JUST KIDDING, there's more...

Me, rambling: "...my company did a walk to raise funds and also did a day of corporate volunteering...which I attended." 

Her, delighted: "Oh that's wonderful! I remember that day, which branch did you attend?"

Me, flailing: "Um....the one in Flatbush...?" (a neighborhood in Brooklyn) 

Her, confused: "Hmm, we don't have a branch in Flatbush, do you mean Kensington?" 

Me, dying inside: "Oh {manic laughter} yes, obviously, I always get those two neighborhoods confused but yes, Kensington, of course, is the branch at which I volunteered." 

Her, seeming skeptical: "Oh, I was the event leader at that branch that day, I don't remember meeting you..."

Me: {runs to window, throws self out}

WHAT in the everliving fuck is wrong with me??? WHYYY did I just lie to this woman's face? I was so confident! I had that dress on, I had a plan...and I couldn't even make it four minutes without choking! No one even asked about volunteering. No one mentioned the corporate day of giving. There was literally no reason for that to have even been a topic of discussion until I started to word vomit, incriminating no one but myself. My greatest fear was that I would be outed as a fraud and instead I just doubled down and frauded all over the room.

Ugh. Ugh. UGHHH.

Blessedly, Her Heavenly Mother Queen Beyonce sent down a miracle at the moment I most needed it in the form of another group of party guests who arrived right in the nick of time, interrupting our conversation before I dug myself even further into a hole. I stayed on at the party for another hour or so, mainly because now I felt like I had to re-prove my normalcy, I didn't want them to be at the office the next day like "did you see that chick who came, lied to us, and then ran out the door?" Instead they could say "did you see that chick who came, lied to us, and then still hung around and ate all of our cheese?" 

Win! 

Sooooo yes, Operation Become A Good Citizen is off to a spectacular start, A++, I'm basically going to have my face on a postage stamp by 2019 at the rate I'm going.

In related news, does anyone know of any caves deep in the middle of the forest with a flexible lease until the end of time? Asking for a friend! 

(The friend is me.) 

xoxo Liz Hott 

 

Women Be Marchin'

Hello! Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 12 years and just now crawled out and somehow got yourself to a public library or internet cafe and taught yourself how to log onto the internet and started to type "how do I use this thing?" into your browser but instead only got as far as "h-o" and were miraculously re-routed to Hottsauceblog.com, and this is literally the first piece of world news or information you've read in over a decade, you're well aware that on Friday, January 20, 2017, Donald Trump became the President of the United States of America. And that the following day, Saturday, January 21, 2017, millions of women and men gathered all around the world to express their hopes and fears over the new administration.

If you have, in fact, been living under a rock welcome and hello and OMG I must hear your story, what a wild adventure, and also yep, yep, and yes, Donald Trump is now the President of the United States of America. Uh huh, this guy. I know! Times are weird, huh? Wait, where are you going?? Oh, back under your rock? Eh...makes sense. Thanks for stopping by! 

But yes, for the rest of you, you know the drill. You've seen the CNN coverage. You've read the backlash and the backlash to the backlash, and the frontlash, and the eyelash and now you have whiplash. But you haven't yet read MY thrilling account of the day so bust out your reading glasses and buckle up...because here it is.

womens rights are human rights

I made the trip from NYC to DC with two of my besties, Maureen and Kathleen. We traveled by MegaBus Friday evening, a trip that was to take 5-6 hours and came in closer to 8, finally dragging into Union Station close to midnight. The bus was stuffy and bumpy and as we stopped and started down the Jersey Turnpike, it became warmer and warmer until finally, unable to bear the heat, one woman approached the driver to inquire about adjusting the heat, which he revealed to be a crisp 83 degrees. Oof. But from this discomfort emerged a warm camaraderie which would set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Nearly all of the other passengers were also headed down to the march, everyone with homemade signs and comfortable sneakers. When we finally did arrive in DC and emerge, blinking, from our brick oven of a bus, we saw dozens of other buses unloading fellow protesters, everyone buzzing with energy. I realized our bus parked right next to a bus marked with the emblem of the Chickasaw Nation, which had likely traveled in from Oklahoma, and I was awestruck -for the first, but not even close to last - time at the scope of the event in which we were about to participate.

Early Saturday morning we hit the streets, bundled in layers of heattech and spirited layered  t-shirts - Kathleen had a homemade shirt with the slogan "Women's Rights = Human Rights" across the chest, and I wore my Unapologetic shirt, natch, the same shirt I wore to vote for Hillary Clinton and awkwardly interrogate the manager of the jewelry-thieving boutique in my neighborhood. Two equally momentous moments in women's history!!! After obsessively reading up on rules for the march, I had purchased a hideous clear backpack  the only regulation bag allowed by the NPS, and filled it up with water bottles, because if I am one thing, it's a rule follower and if I'm two things, it's a rule follower who is obsessed with hydration. 

But not quite as much as this guy, who is my new role model:

not all heroes wear capes

Not all heroes wear capes! 

As we walked out the door we were greeted by a sea of women in the now ubiquitous pink pussy hats streaming through the streets. A man caught our eyes as we walked past, gave a grin, and said "give 'em hell, ladies."

And I'd like to think we did. 

war on women

We arrived at the National Mall around 9:30 AM and finally dragged our addled bodies home as dusk began to fall. In between, we wandered from street to street, trying to take everything in. The march was a bit disorganized, I must admit, likely accounting to the massive swell of visitors. The day began with a rally featuring incredible speakers like Angela Davis, Gloria Steinem, Cecile Richards, America Ferrara, and Michael Moore, and musical performances from Solange (omg), Katy Perry, and obvzzzz the Indigo Girls. Cell service came in and out throughout the day, but I managed to catch some just enough for my brother to text that Indigo Girls performing at a Women's Rally is the center square in Feminist Bingo.

El. Oh. El. Too true.

I am disappointed we didn't get to catch much of the rally, I really would have liked to see or hear more, but it was fun just to soak in the energy. As many people have remarked, the vibe was so, so, positive and polite. Everyone was elbow to elbow, constantly bumping into one another, and each time, the women would turn to each other and apologize. Kathleen, Mo, and I cracked up each time, referencing this classic Amy Schumer sketch, only to find ourselves blurting out "omg sorry!" the next time we turned around. People were sharing snacks, helping one another cross streets, high fiving cops, at one point a group was trying to cut through a large mass of people standing in the street...and they walked ON THE CROSSWALK! It was adorable. Anne Helen Petersen, one of my favorite writers, penned a really thoughtful piece about how the symbols of this particular march - homemade hats, signs, regulation backpacks - represented how inherently feminine this march was. Worth a read

march march march

Finally around 4 PM, after having been out and on our feet for coming on eight hours, we decided to call it a day. We'd been so ensconced in our little cluster of folks right around the National Mall that we thought we were it. But as we elbowed our way out of the crowd, we realized we were just one of many mini-marches streaming all over the city. As we headed out, groups were pouring into the main area, blasting music, chanting, dancing. For several blocks in all directions the streets were blocked off, bars and restaurants open to the street, women in pink hats as far as the eye could see. It was truly incredible to be part of. 

And then we went back to our hotel and were rewarded by a beautiful cable TV lineup consisting of a Lindsay Lohan marathon (Mean Girls and The Parent Trap) followed by Frozen. There is a god and she is good! 

But more on the march! Among the protesters, we met a group of young women from Hanover College in Indiana, Mike Pence's alma-mater, who traveled 12 hours by overnight bus, doing their homework on their laps, to protest against the ideologies of their now famous (or shall I say infamous) vice presidential alum. We met women who'd traveled in from California, Georgia, Maine, Boston, Oregon. We chanted alongside the funniest young girl named Saja, who led the crowd in enthusiastic rounds of "not my president," hilariously throwing her whole body into the cheer.

The crowd was heavily skewed towards female, but a lot of men joined too. There were older women relying on walkers who still stood up and marched. Parents with babies strapped to their backs or in strollers. We marched next to a middle aged man in a wheelchair who wore a tshirt with "Donald eres una pendejo" emblazoned across the front. Feel free to Google Translate that ish! 

mother daughter duo womens march blog

I could have spent the entire day just reading people's clever protest signs. A large amount were focused on reproductive health, including several VERY anatomically correct reproductions of female genitalia and two gigantic papier-mache bloody tampons. But not all were quite so, um, graphic, with many bearing general female empowerment slogans, funny memes, or focusing on the enormous list of issues women fear will be threatened under the new administration: climate change, Black Lives Matter, gun violence, immigration, LGBTQ rights, equal pay, protection against domestic violence and sexual abuse.

womens march resist
womens march signs

One criticism the march received was a lack of a central theme - what are these angry women protesting, anyway?? And it's possible to look at this wide range of protest signs and say, you know, "pick one thing and stick to it!," but to me, it's an impressive, visual reminder that women's issues are WORLD ISSUES. And to downplay them as just, well, bitches bitchin' is a risk to our communal well being. 

voldemort
Putin

There were a fair number of others which poked fun at our new president, including one featuring ACTUAL CHEETOS, which I failed to photograph, many making digs at his close relationship with Russia, and this one which of course spoke very deeply to me:

donald trump is illiterate

FOR REAL THO.

And though the day did carry an air of Anti-Trumpsim, with the crowds erupting into hilarious chants like "He's orange, he's gross, he lost the popular vote" and, my favorite, "We need a leader, not a creepy Tweeter," it wasn't just about him. There really was an overwhelming sense of communal forward energy, of women (and men, but mostly women) who have been quiet for too long finally speaking up. 

One of the other of the main criticisms (oh, and there have been many) (some likely valid, I'm sure!), lobbed at the march in the past few days has been on this theme: "Where have you been before this?? Why are you just getting mad now??" This question comes from two distinctly different groups. First, from people who generally seem annoyed by the march and consider protesters "crybabies," who I would politely ask to mediate on the cliche "the straw that broke the camel's back" and also email me (lizhottsauce@gmail.com) if they'd like to discuss in depth in a civil way. But the second group is one I want to really take to heart, and this comes from groups of women who have been fighting on the front lines of justice for women, primarily non-white, non-straight women who have had to wage daily battles for their rights which I just haven't had to go through. Here, here, and here are a few pieces I've been meditating on, if you think this might be something for you to consider, too. 

from here http://www.theroot.com/woman-in-viral-photo-from-women-s-march-to-white-female-1791524613

from here http://www.theroot.com/woman-in-viral-photo-from-women-s-march-to-white-female-1791524613

from here http://fusion.net/story/382776/amir-talai-viral-photo-womens-march-nice-white-ladies-black-lives-matter/

from here http://fusion.net/story/382776/amir-talai-viral-photo-womens-march-nice-white-ladies-black-lives-matter/

These two photos were making the rounds on social media following the march and have been lingering heavy in my mind as I map out my action plans for the coming days. I have not been as active or as vocal as I could have been. There's that saying "put your money where your mouth is," but the problem is, I kind of need to put my mouth where my money is. I've happily given as much as I can financially to causes I believe in. But I have yet to march in a Black Lives Matter rally. I just voted in a mid-term election for the first time this past fall and mostly only so I could show off about it on Instagram. I do call my senator every time there was a mass shooting (so like, once a week), but I never really follow up, I just kind of check it off the list and move on. In high school and college I used to be so active in community engagement and then when I moved to New York I just kind of stopped. I'll do some outreach here and there but I've never made it a cornerstone of my life the way I used to and I'm ashamed of that. 

I suppose I have Donald Trump - and Mike Pence, and Paul Ryan, and Betsy "Dolores Umbridge" Devos, and the whole motley, racist, misogynist, homophobic crew - to thank for ultimately being the straw that broke my back, for lighting the fire that's been simmering inside of me, untended, for all of these years. I'm fired the fuck up. And should I have been protesting years ago? PROBABLY. Could I have been better about being engaged with the community? FOR SHEEZY. But is it too late to get started now? Is it too late to make a change? is it too late to apologize? No, Justin Bieber, it's never too late. Don't tell me what I can't do! 

And I'm saying this both because it's like, a rah-rah, inspiring end to this blog post, but also, mostly because of accountability. Studies show that if you tell a people you'll do something - go on a diet, quit smoking, whatever - you may be more likely to actually go through with it. And anecdotal data has shown that I, personally, am very motivated by a fear of letting people down or being considered a failure. And also by attention, ha. So I figured if I told all of the millions of people who read this blog (hey mom!) that I was going to try to become a better citizen, well, maybe I would. 

We'll see! 

Now tell me - did you march? Where? How was it for you? How are YOU taking action and accountability in the coming days? I'm all ears for suggestions! Conversely, do you have totally different viewpoints that me and want to have a respectful discussion? I'm working hard to be a better listener, so I'd really love to hear from you.

Fired Up, Ready to Go -

Liz  

 

On Empathy, On Optimism, On Olive Branches

                                                My reason to hope for a better future. 

                                                My reason to hope for a better future. 

I know we're all up to our eyeballs in election commentary at the moment and perhaps you're hoping this is just a jokey post to help you get your mind off things. I wish I could say it was. I really do just want to write about books and farting and how I have pho broth all over my shirt right now because I don't actually know how to use chopsticks but I just can't. My mind is in too much of a fog to access that literary brilliance. Soon we'll be back to the good stuff, but first, I need to get a few things off my chest. 

I am feeling very, very sad. For a number of reasons. I'm sad because my candidate lost, of course, but it's deeper than that. I don't think I even realized how important it was to me to see a woman president until we came so close. It is crushing to see a woman lose out on a job to a man who is infinitely less qualified than her and impossible for me not view it as a slap in the face to my gender. I feel the stinging crush of having high hopes dashed so brutally. I worry deeply about the rights and safety of my non-white, non-Christian, non-able bodied, and queer friends. I can't think of sweet, smart, wild little Lucy, that eager beautiful girl up there, and all of my friends' kids and my future kids, without without feeling like I failed them. I want so much better for all of them. 

I'm not just sad, I am angry. And I'm sad that I'm angry. I have always prided myself on being a relentless optimist who saw the good in everyone, a person capable of deep empathy, compassion, and understanding.  I consider this to be something great and true that I value in my flawed self. And yet this week I feel that spark has been diminished. I am not proud to admit this, but I find myself struggling to empathize with anyone who chose to vote for Donald Trump. There are so many people in my own life who I know to be kind and decent, who work hard, who love their families, and who still somehow found it in themselves to pull the lever for a man who spews vitriol for anyone who does not fall within his tiny, angry scope of what humanity should look like. And I can't wrap my head around that dichotomy. 

How do you cast a vote for a man who openly mocks a disabled reporter, who calls women fat pigs, and then try to teach your kids not to be bullies? That is not a rhetorical question. Tell me exactly what you would say? 

There's a lot of talk going around the internet about how Trump's victory is not about race, or gender, or religion, a lot of folks trying to absolve their own consiences by quickly declaring that a vote for Trump does not make one a racist, a sexist, a bigot, a mean, spiteful person like the one they voted for. It's just his tax plans, you see. A desire for a "shakeup in Washington," perhaps. And all of those motivations are well and good and valid but they alone are not the platform on which this man ran and on which he plans to govern this country. 

Here's the thing, y'all: when voting for public office, you don't get to pick just one or two items and ignore the rest. This isn't a Wawa automated sandwich menu, although I wish it was because I'd vote a turkey club into office any day of the week over Donald J. Trump. I have never seen a chicken salad hoagie try to justify sexual assault, that's for damn sure. 

 

You can tell yourself that you voted for him for his supreme court slots or because you just didn't like the other candidate either, whatever it is that helps you sleep at night, but in choosing those as your priroties, you also gave your support to his language of hate. You may not personally brag about grabbing women by the pussies or denigrate the Muslim faith or send photographs of your hands to Graydon Carter (look it up! A real, mature thing that the man about to have our nuclear codes does!) but by choosing to cast your vote for him, you you voted for those things, too. That's just how this works. 

I grew up in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a beautiful piece of the country home to delicious corn and a vibrant, growing community of artists, and many people who I love and admire. 57% of the county voted for Donald Trump. On Wednesday at York County Technical High School, one county over, 25 minutes from the little town where I was raised, a group of students marched the halls carrying a Trump poster and chanting "White Power." This is true and here's a video. I'd encourage everyone to watch it and to meditate on it for a good, long while. I can not imagine the good people who I know looking young Kiana Alves - who had to leave the school in fear - in the eyes and telling her that they value her safety less than a spicy little government shakeup and yet, by casting a vote in favor of someone who does encourage this kind of violent, bigoted language, for whatever their own reasons, they are implict in allowing this kind of behavior.

To borrow a phrase from an essay a friend shared with me: "I’m not sure what is worse: to be the person who sets a house on fire, or to be the one who handed that person the match."

Before anyone can say "But her emails! Benghazi!", guys, I know. I never said anyone was flawless here. I actively and wholeheartedly chose Hillary despite some real concerns. She's hawkish, prone to secrecy, and basically refused to even acknowlage the No Dakota Access Pipeline Movement right up to the very minute I enthusiastically circled the bubble next to her name on my ballot. I cast my vote for the full package - for the progressive community activist and for the woman who coined the term "superpredator" - and I was prepared to reckon with my decision. 

And if you voted for Donald Trump, you need to reckon with yours. 

In the coming days I am going to work as hard as I can to reactivate that best part of myself, to present an open mind and a malleable heart, to actively listen to the concerns of those with differing viewpoints from my own, to extend an olive branch to those who I would ask to do the same for me. But an olive branch is not an absolution. 

If you voted for Donald Trump because you agree with his words of hate, I guess rock on with your bad self and I'm truly sorry you feel that way. But if you voted for him while claiming to disagree with his language, you need to put your money where your mouth is. One way I've seen folks jusifying his words is to argue that they are just that, words. That actions speak louder. By that logic, your words are just words too. You can shout "I'M NOT A RACIST!" from the roof of every building, share all the "let's just get along" memes the internet can dream up, but unless you are taking positive action to back up that claim, to work to heal the divide, your words remain just words. I implore everyone to take a stand aginst divisive language. To speak up if you see discrimination in your community. To hold our new president accountable for both his words and his actions. 

And while you do that work, I am going to put my energy into being sure that my own words of sorrow and disappointment are not hollow ones either. I have been encouraged to see that many of my fellow progressives are responding to this defeat with powerful, positive action. We are banding together to raise funds for causes we believe in, to hold our governement to a higher standard of humanity, to be, as that old chestnut goes, the change we wish to see in the world. At the end of this post, I'm sharing a few resources I've found helpful on this front, if you'd like to join me. 

I remain fearful and saddened but I am ready be proven wrong. 

With hope,

Liz 

#StrongerTogether Resources:

Donate Your Hillary Vote

Ten Causes That Need Our Help Right Now

Sacred Stone Legal Defense Fund & 10 Ways You Can Help the Standing Rock Sioux

.... AND MORE! I'd love to hear suggestions!