Thank goodness the presidential campaign is over. I'm ready to move on to the business of healing and mending this country that I love so dearly—for us and for our kids.
With that said, let me say I am a black woman. I was raised in poverty and understand firsthand the challenges of being black, female, single and a mom. I also voted for President Barack Obama twice, campaigned for him, donated money and wrote a book titled "Open Your American Heart: From Personal Responsibility to Collective Accountability." I believed that an Obama Presidency would be the salve this country needed to heal the divide of racism. I fully bought into the message of hope and change.
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The past eight years shocked me initially. When I learned that the gun industry has grown tremendously since Obama was elected, I was disturbed. When I realized that many black Americans feared that Obama would be assassinated, I was saddened. And when I witnessed our political process draw to a standstill, with blocked legislation and judicial appointments I saw that this was not just politics as usual but also racism. I will admit, I was like a child realizing that Santa Claus was made up.
Enter Trump with his vicious campaign tactics, the media's free, relentless coverage and the countless citizens supporting him. I easily connected the dots and never believed for one second that he couldn't become president. Why? Because our country has refused to face our demons and the injustices it has done to citizens, marginalized communities, women and people around the world.
And now we have to.
Will we bury our heads in the sand and go back to sleep, or will we take personal responsibility for what we see and experience and do the work to heal our country?
For instance, a new documentary "13th" by Ava DuVernay explains how the 13th amendment was designed to imprison former slaves in the south to continue free labor. The documentary goes on to explain how drug laws and unfair legal practices have created the largest prison industrial system in the world by jailing black and brown people. Today, America has the largest prison system, and companies we support each day with our dollars are using nearly free labor to bolster profit margins.
This brings me to my deep gratitude and appreciation for President-Elect Donald Trump. If it were not for his style of campaign and the vicious nature in which he and Hillary fought for the highest office in the land, all the racism, sexism and expressed hatred, might be pushed back into the shadows of our country. Now that he will be the next president of the United States, we see clearly who we are and get to make a choice today and each day forward who we will be. Are we a country of racist, sexist and hateful people who are deeply in denial of the pain and suffering of many of our citizens? Are we a country that is willing to rally to protect white and male privilege, denying those who aren't like us the same dignity we each desire and deserve?
Now is the time for Americans to ask ourselves how we will respond to the outcome of this election. Will we bury our heads in the sand and go back to sleep, or will we take personal responsibility for what we see and experience and do the work to heal our country? The choice is ours and our generation has a call to mend what our forefathers and mothers didn't have the luxury or the desire to contend with.
I cannot say what type of president Trump will be. But we can clearly see that standards for a white male presidential candidate are not the same as those for a black man or female candidate. If either Obama or Hillary would have behaved like Trump has, they would have never made the nomination, let alone the presidency. White maleness has its privileges and always has in this country.
Now that we see all of it so clearly what is next?
This country has been turned inside out and upside down from this election. It seems that everything we believed true about ourselves is false. We are not who we thought we were. The good news is we get to decide who we will be from this day forward.
This is the wake-up call we needed.
If we are ashamed, heartbroken, scared or sad, it's important to be with our despair without falling back asleep. There's work to be done within the hearts and minds of every American. The best thing we can do now is accept that we are not victims of this, but co-creators. A new choice will create a new reality.