Continuing the post-election series we started Monday where we ask friends of the studio and those whose opinions we respect, basically, what now? Rather than curl into the fetal position and sink into our dark place, how can we take this massive shift in culture and politics and make it into something good. Today’s piece is from a longtime friend and fellow Brooklynite in Los Angeles, Danielle Fee. Danielle works for a New-York-based arts agency and mother to one of the cutest kids ever (that’s our take on it, at least).
I woke up on November 8th to the sound of my daughter’s excitement to get out the door and to go vote. We had been talking a lot about the election and about why we were making the decisions we were making as a family. Her immediate takeaway from watching the news and debates with us was that Trump is “a jerk. He always interrupts Hillary.” I found her opinion to be a perfect encapsulation of my thoughts about Trump as well. As we got ready to go, we both dressed in white. I talked to her about the importance of wearing white to the polling place and how this honored the women who fought for the right to vote. As we arrived, we found long lines outside our polling place. My daughter showed unusual patience, reading her favorite DC Superhero Super Girls comic book as we waited. In the polling place in my neighborhood, enthusiasm was high despite the temporary inconveniences of malfunctioning voting machines and long lines. The poll worker who signed us in periodically broke out in song and general cheering. As I entered the voting booth with my daughter, I teared up as I cast a vote for what I expected to be the first female President of the United States. We were part of history and it left me breathless that I was sharing this with my daughter. I did not, and do not, take those moments from Election Day 2016 for granted.
I’m struggling to process the emotions this election has left me with. How is it possible to feel stunned, rage, despair, sadness, betrayal all at the same time, all so intensely and just a few hours after I was filled with such hope?
I’m grateful for all the think pieces (and even the not-so-thought-out reactive pieces) but it’s time for action. The WTF word bubble that’s been following me around is starting to disappear and I need to do something positive. Here’s a few ways I plan to do that.
The number and range of organizations that will need assistance is staggering. It’s honestly overwhelming. As adults, my husband and I have our own specific causes we support. But as a family we decided to focus on one particular area: empowering girls and women to have a voice. Running Start and She Should Run are two organizations we contributed to that inspire women to become political leaders.
Use My Voice
I will not normalize racism and misogyny. Complacency allowed many people in this country to legitimize hate when they chose to ignore Trump’s rhetoric. I have a responsibility to call out the “locker room talk” or “jokes,” to not ignore and brush off those remarks as just insensitive when I hear them from coworkers, friends and even extended family. I need to use my voice. Yes, it’s a small act. But it’s one that will hopefully open dialogue and lead to bigger acts.
Most of all, I don’t want to forget that feeling of pride I had when voting. I’m taking my daughter to the Women’s March on Washington (in Los Angeles) not as a protest but to emphasize the positive for my daughter. I explained to her that we’re going so we can remind the next president that he needs to respect ALL the people in this country. I want to show her how proud I am of millions of women in this country and those who support women’s rights. Most of all, I want her to see the people behind the vote and that our responsibility to each other doesn’t end on Election Day.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this past election year, it’s that maintaining a safe space for dialogue online is increasingly difficult. It’s bewildering how fast discourse can deteriorate into violent threats—usually seeped in racist and sexist language. Anonymous comments casually threaten sexual assault against those with different political opinions. It’s no wonder so many women joined secret Facebook groups so they could be included in the political conversation without fear of someone else’s high school acquaintance threatening to sexually assault them for their beliefs. These secret groups were formed out of fear, but I am grateful for them. And the positive take-away? I’m still working on that. But I’m inspired to do more to support legislation against online harassment and to call out this unacceptable behavior when I see it.
When my daughter is old enough to vote I want her to have multiple female leaders to look up to and I want her to be able to voice her opinion online and IRL without fear of violence. For now, she doesn’t know if I’m posting information online to support a cause or engaging in a dialogue on Facebook. She can only see my actions. It’s time for me to be an example she can actually see and hear.