1 week until Election Day
If you haven’t yet, please start from the first part of this piece.
2020 is a pivotal year in the state of our nation. We came into this year expecting a consequential presidential election, were hit with a global pandemic, endured repeated killings of unarmed Black people which finally woke some people up to the reality of racial injustice, experienced and perhaps participated in the uprisings to combat that injustice, lost liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and sat through the farce of her replacement, and held tight for the closing weeks of that election. We still have to live through the election, its aftermath, and whatever else the last two months of the year have in store for us.
This year comes after more than three years of this tortuous presidential administration. It comes after talk of building a wall, after actual family separations, after pulling out of the Paris Climate Accords and disparaging any efforts to address climate change, after demeaning our allies and partnerships around the world, after massive tax cuts, after grabbing protesters off the streets and holding them in secret locations, after continuous threats to destroy the already-insufficient healthcare we provide in this county. It feels like we have reached the evening of a never-ending day and we are tired, ready for sleep.
And yet, we must reckon with the fact that these horrible policies are not unique in our history. Yes, the Trump administration’s actions may be uniquely amplified and uniquely packaged in the grotesque container of Trump himself. But all of these policies are versions of those we have been pursuing for years in this country — certainly Republicans, but Democrats as well.
Black people and other people of color in this country largely know this history — are forced to know this history because they have had to endure the worst effects of this history and still find a way to thrive. It is we white people who largely have been ignorant, who have imagined the history of the United States as a great democracy which, yes, has had a few problems, but is really a beacon to the world. It is the grotesqueness of Trump himself which has awakened us to the grotesqueness of our immigration policies. It is the generational impact of COVID that has awakened us to the horrible impacts of our inadequate healthcare system. It was the death of George Floyd and this summer’s uprising for racial justice that awakened us to the death and terror caused by our system of mass incarceration.
So we white people might feel tired, but it is far from time to sleep. Evening is drawing near, but it is time to act. Many of us have already voted, and many more will in the coming days. That is a first and necessary step, but it is just one small part of the actions we need to take. Perhaps we have written letters and postcards, texted and called people to impact this election. That is a good start. Maybe we have started to recognize our complicity in racial injustice, climate injustice, and the multiple injustices afflicting our nation. That is something.
The sun is setting, and we want to return to sleep. Still, now is the time to go further. Now is the time to step out into the dusk. What will we do? After the election, what will we do to advocate for racial justice in our homes, in our workplaces, in our schools, in our politics, in our streets, in our stores, in our extended families? What will we do to stand against the reality of climate change that most directly impacts Black and indigenous communities? Clouds cover the face of the moon. The storm, the wind, the rain are rising, and we want to retreat. What commitments have we made? And now, how will we fulfill them? This is the moment, this is the point of decision.
Election Day is one week away. We have already made our decisions in this election. Now, regardless of the outcome, what is our decision for ourselves, for our actions, for our lives, for our country, for our communities? Do we choose the oblivion of sleep? Or do we choose life?
Please check out the final part of this piece, coming next week.
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