A note to today’s post: Happy New Year to my followers! It has been nearly six months since you heard from me. I have no plans to take down my blog, but the truth of the matter is that my life and commitments have changed drastically over the past eighteen months. As a result, I do not have the amount of time to devote to writing and vlogging as I have in previous years. I intend to update you all on these changes and share certain aspects of my path with you in future posts. But for now, I’d like to share my reflections from the days leading up to my nation’s bitter 2016 presidential election, Election Day and the aftermath.
November 5th-6th, 2016: The Weekend Before
Saturday, November 5th, 2016 was a full day for me. I started the day by volunteering at my daughters’’ school for their open house. When a staff member emailed me weeks before to ask if I’d help, I quickly said yes. My child now attends an elite private school that has gone above and beyond to ensure a smooth transition for her. I happily agreed to show up and give back to an institution that has benefitted my child immensely.
Once the open house concluded, I dropped my child off at an event with her nerd squad, went home and prepared for my late lunch date with Quentin. Realizing that Mr. Right was not going to appear on my doorstep spontaneously, I forced myself to abandon my reticence about dating in September. Two months had passed since I reentered the dating game, and Quentin was the only candidate who made it past an initial meet and greet!
For our third date, we agreed to meet at Seattle’s cherished Catfish Corner. We spent that afternoon talking animatedly over plates of fried catfish and red snapper, trading memories of beloved deceased parents and our childhood.
The fish at Seattle’s Catfish Corner is the real deal!
The catfish was amazing, but the sides left much to be desired! However, the lackluster potato salad couldn’t dampen my spirit as I listened to Quentin and swayed along to the funk and R&B music emanating from the speakers. “Oh, don’t mind me,” I said when I saw the look of amusement on his face, “I just love this Jaheim joint!”
“It’s all good, do your thing,” Quentin replied. As we continued to eat, I was struck by the level of comfort I felt. His pronounced southern drawl and straightforward manner reminded me of my late Grandma and conjured the feeling of being home.
That feeling of southern comfort, warmth and being surrounded by my culture would carry over to Sunday. I stood shoulder to shoulder with my cousin during praise and worship that morning, rocking in unison with the choir, fiercely stomping our feet and clapping our hands with intensity.
I enjoy the church I currently attend(I returned to Christianity last year). My place of worship is a mix of the better elements of the traditional Baptist environment I grew up in and the progressive vision needed in the 21st century. But at that moment, the service had the feel of an old-school Southern revival. I caught my cousins’ eye and smiled at her, grateful to be sharing such a moment with her. I was surrounded by those who were joint heirs to my cultural and historical legacy and knew this was where I belonged.
November 8th, 2016: Election Day
“WHAT THE F…” I stopped myself before I finished my sentence. I was watching the election with one of my closest friends, and our children were present. I wasn’t going to cuss around them. Since returning to the church, I’d made excellent progress towards cleaning up my potty mouth. But when MSNBC reported that Pennsylvania went for Donald Trump, I nearly forgot my vow to avoid dropping F-bombs!
By 10 pm, reality began to set in. Not only was Hillary Clinton going to lose the Electoral College, but she was also going to lose badly. I hurriedly threw on my coat and shoes, bid my friend good night and drove home. My nerves had been on edge all day. When I got home, I plopped down on the couch dejectedly. My face burned, and my hands shook uncontrollably. Once I calmed down, I texted Quentin.
Me: Can you believe this? Is this REALLY HAPPENING?
Quentin: Baby, I know. I’m shocked as well. But we have to continue and focus on succeeding no matter what.
Me: Yes, that’s true, but right now I just feel so uneasy. I guess I will just go to sleep.
Sleep didn’t come easily to me that night.
November 9th-11th: The Days After
I will be honest: I was among the millions who were blindsided by the election results. I was aware that there were conservatives who backed Trump vociferously. But I didn’t think the number of diehard Trump supporters would be sufficient to defeat Clinton. As we now know, I was utterly wrong in that analysis.
“So what are we supposed to do now,” my precocious child asked me on November 9th. On numerous occasions she expressed her disappointment in both major party candidates, saying she wouldn’t vote for either. But like many American children, she’d been required to watch the presidential debates and was disturbed by them. I paused before answering her, then crafted my reply.
“What we do now,” I said, my voice even and steady, “is remember that we still have goals to achieve, regardless of who won the election. I am proud of you for making honor roll in the first term at your new school. But I believe you’re able to achieve a 4.0 GPA, and I expect you to do so this year. In less than a year, we start applying for high school admissions. We will have to start thinking about your major for undergrad and assembling a list of potential universities and colleges by your sophomore year at the latest. For the next nine years, your ‘job’ is excelling in education. Let me worry about everything else, okay?”
I must say that my child handled the election results with more composure than I did initially! I was an overly anxious, pitiful ball of fear and weakness. Between November 9th and 11th, I posted many paranoid missives to my personal Facebook profile, sorrowfully prophesying a bleak future. But when I checked my emotions, I realized that I truly needed to relax and was being extra.
January 20th, 2017: Inauguration Day
My shock has long subsided, replaced by acceptance. The election of 2016 was not the first time that my candidate has lost. I witnessed the election of President George W. Bush and his triumphant victory in 2004. I lived through President Obama’s two historic terms.
I am fully aware that my conclusion here will enrage some. In the especially tense environment, I will likely lose acquaintances. But I will say it regardless: while I did not support Donald Trump, as an American I must accept the reality that he IS the 45th President of the United States of America. No amount of social media tantrums, bullying towards those who engage him, or petulant exclamations of “not my president” will change that.
To our former President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden and their families: I thank you for your service to your country.
To our new President Donald Trump: I congratulate you and will be watching intently.
To my fellow Americans: let’s give ourselves some credit. Yes, it was a long and nasty election. Many of us are still bothered by it. In spite of the acrimony, we held on to our tradition of a peaceful transfer of power, and I think that’s commendable.
I wish that I could give an answer on how to repair the canyon-like divide this election has revealed. There is no quick fix for it. Yet I hold onto my faith. Giving into fear and pessimism just isn’t an option. As Brother Ali says in “Letter to My Countrymen:
They tell me I’m a dreamer, they ridicule,
They feel defeated, old, bitter, and cynical;
Excuse me, but I see it from a different view,
I still believe in what a driven few could really do…