As I write this, we do not yet have an outcome to our presidential election, but there is a very real possibility that our current president will lose this election and we will see a path out of the last four years.
Rather than relief, I have been feeling the overwhelming weight of grief since Tuesday night.
The past four years have been driven by a white supremacy agenda. We have watched the Trump administration try to rip our democracy, our nation, and our community to pieces. Many of us have been at the forefront of fighting back against this administration’s hate, vitriol, and violence and have spent the past four years building powerful coalitions and networks of care. We have waited so long for this moment, this election, this week and now it is here. Along with our community and legal partners, we trained and deployed over 400 volunteers to the polls to protect voters’ rights, where Black, Latinx and other communities of color so often face voter suppression and intimidation tactics. We are committed to ensuring that every single vote is counted.
And still I sit in grief. The reality is that nearly 70 million Americans voted for a white America. What has happened in this country extends far beyond Donald Trump. We have known this at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the SF Bay Area. We have existed for over fifty years because of the racism and oppression that exists in varying degrees in every community across our country. And still, the fact that this election is as close as it is hurts.
There are victories from this week too. Prop 17 made history by restoring the right to vote to 50,000 formerly incarcerated Californians on parole. At the same time, there were incredible losses at the statewide level. Gig workers’ rights will be decimated with the passage of Prop 22, the union-busting, corporate-backed measure that was funded by companies like Uber and Lyft to the tune of $200 million. California voters also voted against affirmative action (Prop 16), which could have leveled the playing field for people of color and women in our universities and government hiring.
I have been replaying Dr. King’s words in my head since these results came in. In 1967 he spoke of the “Other America,”
[W]e must see that the struggle today is much more difficult [t]oday because we are struggling now for genuine equality. It’s much easier to integrate a lunch counter than it is to guarantee a livable income and a good solid job. It’s much easier to guarantee the right to vote than it is to guarantee the right to live in sanitary, decent housing conditions. It is much easier to integrate a public park than it is to make genuine, quality, integrated education a reality. And so today we are struggling for something which says we demand genuine equality.
We as Californians were able to do what was just when we saw the right to vote withheld from those who were formerly incarcerated, but when the fear of change in our own lives took hold, we chose against equity. We must reflect on how we and our state have failed our communities, pivot our electoral strategy, and hold ourselves accountable to change. California must do better.
For those of you who are also sitting in grief, I invite you to join me in honoring it. It is this grief that will help us continue our work after the election. We will continue to work to free undocumented immigrants from cages, resist racist policing through litigation and policy, and envision new economies that can eliminate the racial wealth gap. And we will continue to work for a world in which our grief moves to healing… that healing will allow us to create a world with “genuine equality.”
With love and solidarity,
Executive Director, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area
Here’s how we’re taking care of ourselves at LCCRSF during the election:
- Post Election Safety Plan Regardless of who wins, the results from the election could lead to some direct attacks and acts of violence toward or against certain communities. We urge everyone to be safe and take caution for some time after the results come out.
- Check out these mental health resource on how to take care of yourself this election season
- Read this essay by Rebecca Solnit on hope in dark times: “Hope is an embrace of the unknown”