Today is a good day.
One year ago, I struggled with the news that a woman I had long admired had lost the presidential race to a misogynistic, abusive, lying bully with zero experience serving in a political office. The only thing that pulled me out of the blackness I fell into after that election, was attendance at the Women’s March in Washington DC. It’s hard to describe the experience of participating on that day without sounding trite. I’ll just say this – it was the first time in the days following that election that I felt hope. To see millions and millions of people across the world, show up and say NO, we are better than this, was powerful enough to keep me from slipping into that place of darkness again.
Not that I haven’t had moments of despair since. It’s been a rough year. But today, today once again I saw the importance of hope. Faith is a lovely thing, but too often passive, asking of us nothing. Faith can be read as, let’s wait around for somebody, something to take care of things, to make things better, at some point, in the future. But hope, hope asks us to believe in possibility, but also requires us to show up and do the job at hand.
Here’s what happens when people show up:
From the Jersey Shore. A board member in Atlantic Shore mocked attendees at the Women’s March, wondering aloud if the women would be home in time to cook dinner (link) Scores of women brought boxes of Mac and Cheese along with cooking instructions to the next board meeting. Ashley Bennett, 32, a psychiatric emergency screener, decided to go one better. She ran against the man for his board seat. She won.
Hoboken, NJ. Elected Ravi Bhalla mayor. Bhalla is New Jersey’s first Sikh mayor (link).
Alison Parker, a journalist in Roanoke, Virginia was shot and killed on air two years ago. Her boyfriend, Chris Hurst, decided to run for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates to honor her. He ran on a platform of progressive causes, including education, expansion of Medicaid, the environment and gun safety. He ran against a long-time Republican incumbent with an “A” rating from the NRA. Hurst won (link).
Virginian Democrats were busy across the state yesterday, flipping seats in at least 14 districts and unseating the Republican Governor. They also elected the country’s first openly transgender delegate, Danica Roem (link). Roem ran against Republican Dan Marshal, the man who introduced Virginia’s “Bathroom Bill.” Roem refuses to say anything negative about her former opponent, “I don’t attack my constituents. Bob is my constituent now.” My nephew, Nate Dobson was happy to point out that Roem is also the first Virginia Delegate to be a member of a heavy metal band (link).
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Andrea Jenkins became the country’s first transgender woman of color to be elected to a City Council seat (link).
Aisha Alexander tweeted today, “Y’all, my mother @Vi Lyles made history tonight. She is the FIRST EVER, black woman elected mayor of Charlotte NC!” Aisha has good reason to be proud of her mom. Resisting the urge to go negative about her opponent, Vi Lyles said, “you have to be who you are.”(link)
I live in a beautifully diverse neighborhood, in a beautifully diverse country. It isn’t always easy, but you know what, it isn’t all that difficult either. Our current president ran on a platform of fear, on a platform of us against them, on a platform of divisiveness. That is not who we are. As the newly elected governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, said in his acceptance speech last night, “We live in a very diverse society, it is getting more diverse every day, it is that diverse society that makes this country great.”
Let’s keep reminding our current leaders of just that.