I believe in the construct of the American democratic process, but I didn't always understand it. Growing up in a Jamaican household, politics wasn't really discussed, as far as I can remember. I had a hard time because of this in history classes in high school, so much so that I told myself that I hated history. In fact it bored me, and I just couldn't relate to it. It didn't make sense to me. It wasn't until college where I was able to form my own curriculum that I gained an appreciation and love of history. When I moved to Washington, it became vital that I informed myself on all things government related, just to get through the day.
As time passed, I became my own teacher. I explored American history and politics, African history and the history of my Caribbean heritage. Like the old saying goes, you can't know where you are going until you know where you come from. My goal as a mother is to instill this hard-learned lesson in my children so that, at the very least, they have a head start when it comes to the learning curve that we sometimes call "life".
In this moment, you are entitled to your feelings, be it anger, rage, disappointment, frustration, or even, dare I say it, joy. Feelings are our own, and we are given them so that we can process our surroundings. If you feel nothing, that's precisely when I would question your humanity. Feel something. Or as a Jamaican would say: mi sorry fi unnu!
So, for now, let this be a lesson for all of us. Are we willing to allow this moment in history to defeat us and continue to divide us, or will we use this as the catalyst for change? And by change I mean real, measurable and quantifiable change. Change for ourselves so that we can dig deeper to understand the structures of our surroundings and educate ourselves on the ways in which our ideals and customs can align with a more "favorable" outcome in the future. Change for our community so that we can remove ourselves from the reliance on said systems for our means of survival. Change for our children so that, regardless of which side of the aisle you are on, they still know that anything is possible and they can be anything they wish to be in this world: even President of the United States of America. Change for our forefathers so that they know they did not die in vain and that we will, from now on, use our voice and our vote in reverence and obligation moving forward. Change for those we disagree with, because in embracing the unknown, we are all in this together, regardless of whether or not we think we know the workings of the system we live under. Change for those in the positions of power so that they remember that America's power is actually with the people, and we continue to use every actionable means to allow our voices to be heard.
"We're not Republicans first. We're not Democrats first. We're Americans first. We're patriots first." - Barack Obama
Previously, I suggested a "call to action". We needn't forget that although they may not have gotten our "vote", they are indeed working for us. This a government "by the people, for the people", which oftentimes seems to be a forgotten truth. Don't like something? Speak up. Disagree with something? Write a letter. Want something to be done? Make a phone call. If enough of us are willing to make our voices heard on a consistent basis, we will eventually be heard. It's like the nagging ache or pain caused by an injury: you feel it, it bothers you, and it hurts. But it isn't until either you finally do something about it (see a doctor) or you have no choice but to pay attention to it (end up in the hospital) that a change will occur. Don't wait until the pain is unbearable: speak, be heard. Don't carry it around with you when you don't have to. Constructively, use your voice until your voice matters. And while it may feel as a though it's only a drop in the bucket at the time, enough drops will fill that bucket to the brim. I pray and hope we can all stay as engaged and involved in the political process as we seem to have been over the last few months. I say all of this because I refuse to give up hope. I refuse to believe that this is the end. As John Lennon famously said, "it will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, then it's not the end."
I'll leave you with my current mood in the form of music/music videos. Music has its own way of healing and defining what we sometimes cannot ourselves put into words. Stay vigilant, stay strong, but most of all, stay engaged!