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This Moment in Our History Will Be Defined by Our Resistance

This Moment in Our History Will Be Defined by Our Resistance

We are angry. We are in pain. But this will not defeat us.

Yesterday I wrote about how we needed to come together after this election, no matter who won. This was admittedly an easier thing to write when I thought Hillary Clinton would win. I wrote about the need to have difficult conversations with people who disagree with us, about reaching out to and fully understanding the people we write off as lost causes for being racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise prejudiced. I want to clarify.

As the election results came in, it became apparent that there were many more white people across the board were willing to vote for a man endorsed by the KKK than polling could predict. Democratic commentator Van Jones gave this a name, calling it, "a white-lash against a changing country." There are white people in our families, at our workplaces, in our churches, who we call friends, who decided defending white supremacy was their first priority yesterday. If you are a white person who doesn’t consider yourself racist, this is our wake-up call. It’s something we have been warned about by people of color, something we should have been combatting more furiously before—but "should" is not productive. What we need to do now is recognize our responsibility. We are responsible for fully understanding and combatting white supremacy in our communities.

The mood today in Philadelphia is somber. While walking my dog, I talked to neighbors who felt angry, hopeless, shocked, and above all deeply hurt. Last night their country told them, once again and on a massive scale, that their lives were not valued.

I feel these things too, but I am trying not to mourn for too long. I am trying instead to focus on where I’m needed. As someone who has never considered myself a faithful person, I am finding I have much more faith than I thought. I don’t think everything will be okay. I think a lot of people will suffer. But I have faith that every marginalized person who is devastated right now is a survivor. I have faith that we will be kinder and gentler to each other today—and I will do what I can to make sure that kindness and gentleness lasts. I have faith that we can be strong and defiant in the face of this crisis. Above all, I have faith that when today’s children look back at this moment in our history as adults, it will be a moment defined by our resistance.

I think this resistance will come from face-to-face interactions with our neighbors. I think it will come from us taking a risk and reaching out to people we don’t know in solidarity. Social media might prove to be a useful tool, but the vast majority of the work that lies ahead of us will have to happen offline. We will need to protest, knock on doors for local candidates in 2017, confront bigots with a human face and story, and hold each other.

Hillary Clinton’s concession speech focused on the future, on the fight ahead. "This loss hurts," she said, "But please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it." It is natural to feel terrified in this moment—to be angry and to grieve. But I need believe that we will keep fighting for what is right. 

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Cassie Sheets