We have a lot of work to do.
To my friends who are people of color, who are gay or lesbian or transgender or gender queer or anywhere on the sexual orientation continuum that is not straight, to my friends who are Muslim or Jewish or anything that is not evangelical Christian, to my friends who are women, who are people with disabilities, to all my friends who are now in danger under a Trump presidency, I want you to know first that I am sorry.
I am sorry that we've been so complacent in this country, thinking that since it's so obvious human rights should extend to all humans, we forgot that you are not seen as fully human by some. I'm sorry that we've assumed well-educated, good-hearted people will always win over racists and misogynists and homophobes and those who rule by fear and ignorance. I'm sorry we've assumed that this nation was better than this. It's not. This is our country, at this moment in time. Evolution is messy, and we've put our faith in democracy. But this is democracy, a resounding call from the disenfranchised white working class. They, too, are American. They, too, are worthy. They, too, are individuals with real lives and loves and fears and hopes, dreams, and needs. We've discounted them, and they've responded. That's ours to own. We have much to learn from this.
Secondly, I want you to know, my friends who are in danger with Trump as President, that I will not give up in the fight for your rights and the demand for recognition of our shared humanity, that I will do whatever I can to ensure your safety, that I will work harder to turn this tide of fear, hatred, and racism, into waves of understanding, inclusion, and social justice. I will not go.
Thirdly, this is a new day, and one that calls for us to stop being complacent, but to be activists instead. That activism will look different for each of us. Say yes, be generous, love more, trust yourself, speak up, and slow down. Those are the six principles in my book, "Life is a Verb," and they are principles that will help us find our way forward.
Say yes to being involved in the political life of this nation. It is vital. Get into the streets when laws are made that endanger any of us. Say yes to people around you who are fearful and living in what is now clearly a racist country. Racism never went away, my friends. It just went underground, and it's back, front and center. When racism is out loud, we can work on it. Now's the time. And when a person of color tells you they experience racism, don't question them: Believe them. Sit near the fire with them; don't go.
Be generous with your energy to create a world that is fair and equitable and just for all. Don't spend your energy pushing against something, spend it creating the world you want for your family, your community, your friends, and all people. What we resist grows stronger; don't resist. Don't spend energy fighting against, but name what you want to create instead, and go create it. Create it in community with others, and make sure that community is diverse. Be creative, because creativity will get us there and will save us on the journey.
Love more people who don't look like you. Find ways to be in proximity with people who don't look like you, who don't believe what you believe, who don't practice your religion, who don't share your sexual orientation, who have disabilities, who are women living and working in a man's world. Love unlovable people. Do not respond with anger and fear to this election. Our nation cannot bear the weight of more of that. Put yourself in direct relationship with people unlike you, including racists and misogynists and homophobes, in order to know them, love them, and learn from them.
Trust yourself. You are up to this. You can effect change wherever you are. Not every change agent needs to be loud and sure and strong, on the front lines of something. Some of the most effective change agents I've ever met are quiet and consistent. This is not a foot race, it's a lifetime walk, step by step. Be consistent in your advocacy for others. Be consistent in your vision of a country not fueled by hate and fear. Be consistent. Show up every day. Trust yourself. Educate yourself on how to be an effective ally to people whose humanity is being questioned. Be consistent.
Stand up to racism, misogyny, ableism, Islamophobia, bigotry of all kinds. Stand up for what you know is right. Be outraged by the experience of people of color and other minorities in this country, and be changed by the experiences of people in any minority group that comes under fire. Put yourself in places where you will hear the stories of people who don't look like you, and listen deeply to realities that are not your own. You don't have to understand what you are hearing if there isn't a socket in your brain for it to plug into, but you must believe it is the truth for the speaker, and you must stand up in small moments as well as large ones, to ensure that these "-isms" die.
Slow down to build relationships with people unlike yourself. Trust is built over time, not overnight. Learn to listen and follow the lead of people of color, people with disabilities, women, people whose religions are not mainstream Christian, and other "minority" groups. Befriend someone who voted for Trump. Seek to understand, not damn. Seek to build relationships, not walls. Slow down to learn about your own privilege and how to use it to dismantle privilege. Slow down to educate yourself first, to open safe spaces for dialogue in which you say little and hear more. Slow down to check yourself, and check your people. Stop being reactive, flailing around in horror and shock and grief. Start being responsive instead.
Change your verbs. From hurting to healing. From excluding to including. From damning to loving. From reacting to responding. From demonizing to humanizing.
We don't have time for shock, disgust, anger, or fear. We need commitment, consistency, understanding, inclusion, and advocacy. We don't have time for demonizing the people who elected Trump. We need bridges between us. Bridges across rivers work because both ends are in common soil. We live here, together. Let us live here together.
As Neil deGrasse Tyson wrote on Twitter, "This is the end of nothing. This is the beginning of something new and solemn and so important. You must be part of what comes next."
We have a lot of work to do. It need not all be hard and laborious, but joyful and enlivening too, as we create a better future for all of us, not just some of us. What we can do together is unlimited. Be in community as you walk forward on this day.
Say yes, be generous, love more, trust yourself, stand up, and slow down.