What happens now

14

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The Internet — at least the part of it I turn to when I need distraction or comfort or inspiration — has been quiet this week. I am Canadian, so I was unable to do more than watch as events unfolded in the U.S. on Tuesday. But I cried on Wednesday morning, sitting at my desk at work, as I watched Hillary Clinton give one of the most gracious and devastating speeches I’ve ever witnessed. Every time I have seen lines from that speech quoted in the last few days, I have cried again. All the stories about parents bringing their daughters to the polls make me cry, as do the stories of the little girls who stayed up late to watch the results.

All of those stories made me realize that I never had that moment as a little girl and so, in many ways, I was just like those little girls who woke up on Wednesday and felt the true crush of a dream. The difference, I guess, is that maybe I should have known. But I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t believe it was possible. I live(d) in a bubble, and on Tuesday it popped and the air was sucked out and on Wednesday I couldn’t breath.

I am breathing again. Tears and gasps are fine, but they don’t accomplish much aside from catharsis (which is in itself important, I think). As I said, I’m Canadian, but I know better than to be smug. The U.S. President has huge influence in this country, and the politics of hate and superiority are a kind of whirlpool that sucks people in because it’s so much easier to go along with them — provided, of course, that you’re not a person of colour, an immigrant, LGBT, a woman (even a white woman), and/or disabled.

This week, Kellie Leitch, who is running to be the leader of our federal Conservative Party, invoked Trump and his politics as a model to be followed. Canadians, don’t fool yourselves into thinking that rhetoric couldn’t catch on here. It could, and most of us wouldn’t even see it coming.

So, what do we do now? That is the question I keep seeing as I search for help understanding what has happened and what will happen and what I can do to, if not change it, make it better. I don’t yet have an answer, except that as a start L and I will be putting our money where our mouths and values are, and making regular, sustained donations to organizations that fight for what we believe in: equal rights, reproductive rights, safety for women and LGBT people who need shelter, etc.

If you too are searching for understanding, or a lens that makes the future feel less dim, here are some essays and articles that I found particularly helpful:

  • “The sky is not falling. It just feels a little darker right now. She is out there. I know it in my core. In some school. On some playground. In some boardroom. She may not even know it yet. And our collective job is to light the path so everyone else can find her.” — from Thank you Hillary, now women know retreat is not an option by Marie Henein
  • “My plan is to make hot sticky love to my martyr’s complex. All. Night. Long. My plan is to become someone who brings up the Holocaust at every opportunity and not say stupid things like, “Well the good thing about this is that it started a conversation about respect/rape/assault/pariahhood/anti-Semitism/xenophobia/ racism.” My plan is to go home and cry while I type.” — from My plan for making peace with President-Elect Trump by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
  • “Things are going to be, uh, different without her in the White House (sorry, understatement of the decade), but our fundamental task is unchanged. The call to action is the same, but so much louder.
    So listen to it.” — from Finish your ugly-crying. Here’s what comes next. by Ann Friedman
  • “What do you say in the moment of your child’s disillusionment? You tell her what you hope to be true, and in so doing you remind yourself of the parents, the citizens, you hope to be.” — from My daughter grew up believing she could do anything by Lisa Miller
  • “I live in a progressive bubble and this election has forced me to acknowledge that I cannot comprehend what has happened because I will never wholly understand what is happening. And that is something I need to work on. Hard.
    America, we are NOT better than this. We are THIS. And we have work to do. In and OUTSIDE of our communities.” — from This is where we begin by Rebecca Woolf (emphasis hers)
  • “We have been weathering this hurricane wall of doubt and violence for so long, and now, more crystalline than ever, we have an enemy and a mandate. We have the smirking apotheosis of our oppression sliming, paw-first, toward our genitals. We have the popular vote. We have proof, in exit polls, that white women will pawn their humanity for the safety of white supremacy. We have abortion pills to stockpile and neighbors to protect and children to teach. We have the right woman to find. We have local elections in a year.” — from Her loss by Lindy West

This is not usually an overtly political blog and while regular knitting and travel content will continue after this, I do feel increasingly that any public space occupied by women and minorities is a political space. I am struggling right now, but I know I’m not alone in that. You can respect democracy and not respect its results, so if you are scared, or sinking, or feel like the hope you felt has been dashed, please know I see you. I feel you. I am here for you. We are stronger together.

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14 thoughts on “What happens now

  1. knittedblissjc

    Oh man, you got me started all over again with the ugly crying!! Thank you for the wonderful links, for the very accurate comments that hatred spreads easily, and we have to vigilant in Canada so that the small-mind, hateful ideas that Trumps spews don’t take root here.

    1. Angela Hickman Post author

      It is so scary how fast hate spreads, especially when it starts to just seem normal. That’s one of the worst things to come out of the Trump campaign, I think (results aside) — the way we measure hate speech seems to have changed. “That’s not as bad as what so-and-so said” and “At least s/he didn’t say X, I guess?” are already making horrible things seem less bad. It’s going to be exhausting to call it all out, but also so important.

  2. Beth

    Thank you so much for writing this. As an American who does feel as the world has ended and we are beyond the brink of disaster, it has been impossible for me to read the blogs I usually do, most American, that don’t even mention the election. It feels surreal. I’m so grateful for you who are able & willing to write about it.

    1. Angela Hickman Post author

      You’re welcome. I really wasn’t sure whether to write anything about it. I was worried about controversy, or trolls, but honestly, I am in a position of such relative privilege that not to not speak about what I believe, and offer solidarity, felt disingenuous. Not everyone has the safety I enjoy, and more than ever we need to recognize when we can act on behalf of others, and then do so.

    1. Angela Hickman Post author

      EZ’s adage “Knit on, through all crises” is apt, but doesn’t account for those times when nothing will bring comfort. I hope you’re able to pick up your needles again soon, but I completely understand the paralysis.

  3. Maggie

    As an American I am devastated and like many others am moving through the stages of grief. Clearly there is a lot of work that needs to be done. We have so far to go.

    Thank you for your support. Thank you for speaking out.

    1. Angela Hickman Post author

      I read that post before the election and agree that it was exellent. While I find it hard to separate Trump’s racist and bigoted policies from his others (they are entirely wrapped together in his ‘Make America Great Again’ slogan, which forces the follow up question “Great again for *who*?”), I definitely agree that the concerns of rural populations are easy to ignore. Both in the U.S. and Canada, I should add.

      There are people who voted for Trump for reasons that don’t amount to white supremacy, and they need to make themselves heard. His advisory committee is a nightmare, and people who wanted a change that would bring them forward, not backward, need to loudly reject his presumed appointees. There is work for all of us to do.

  4. yvette

    You want to be careful admiring and recommending Marie Henein. Read her words with healthy skepticism and definitely look between the lines. Remember her evisceration and humiliation of the women testifying against Ghomeshi. She is not an inclusive or particularly empathetic champion of women`s rights.

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