Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Morning After: A Dream Deferred or The Glass Ceiling Shattered #SOL16


Tomorrow morning we will awaken to the final count, the result of the 2016 presidential election. As a political junkie, I've followed this election cycle glued to my screens--computer, smart phone, television. I also subscribe to several print magazines: The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Time. I devour political rhetoric and happily talk politics. 

But I am exhausted and ready for the morning after. 

I even took the pledge above, but I'll struggle with it regardless of the results. For I know that whatever the results, our nation will forever be changed from what it was to what it is. 

Will we be a nation of deferred dreams? Langston Hughes asked this question in "Harlem" which he wrote during the Harlem Renaissance: 

What happens to a dream deferred? 
      Does it dry up 
      like a raisin in the sun? 
      Or fester like a sore— 
      And then run? 
      Does it stink like rotten meat? 
      Or crust and sugar over— 
      like a syrupy sweet? 
      Maybe it just sags 
      like a heavy load. 
      Or does it explode?

Will the nation "explode" into riots of disenfranchised voters, victims of limited places to vote in states that have reduced the number of precincts by more than half? Will women struggle for another 32 years before seeing a female's name on the presidential ticket? It has been, after all, that long since Geraldine Frerraro ran as Walter Mondale's vice presidential pick. 

Certainly, a Clinton loss will shatter my dreams. Will I shrivel and weep or ooze with anger. I feel the load of this election and have struggled to articulate all that troubles me. As a life-long Democrat, I've at least been able to understand what drives folks to the elephant in the room. At times I've thought that were I living somewhere else I might even lean in a little to the right. 

Not this year. 

Sunday night "60 Minutes" featured a segment about our national mood and our inability to listen to and respect one another's differences in political opinion. Our "National Mood," the segment argues, is contentious and angry, both with the political process and candidate choices. No fewer than 80% of the electorate dislike our choices, claims pollster Frank Luntz. He put supporters of both Trump and Clinton in a room together, and chaos ensued as neither side listened to the other. The participants blamed social media and all other media, which the participants see as biased and focused on entertainment. As Luntz says, "We can't even agree on the same facts." 

This is a real problem. We have reached a place in which facts get denied and rejected outright. This paradigm shift differs from our interpretation of the facts. A fact is verifiable, but many ignore the science, environmental, historical, social on which we base and learn facts. When we can't agree on the facts, we can't debate or discuss what these facts mean. We can't talk about what to do about the facts. 

Yet I can't help but think Luntz misses much of the bigger picture. As he scolded the participants for not listening to the other side, I wondered why the emotional reactions. I simply can't listen to and respect someone who supports a sexual predator. I feel violated by such respect for someone I find so vile and reprehensible. The facts verify my claim, but many ignore these facts. That puts us in a wag-the-dog loop. We go round and round the same circle, forever chasing our political tales. 

How then do we awaken the morning after the election and move on, whether our side wins or loses? 

I'm in the 20% who likes my candidate choice. Simply, I'm with Her. I have followed Hillary Rodham Clinton's career since the early 90s, and while I have cringed at some of her comments over the years, I've grown to understand her wifely responses and separate them from her political aspirations. Some will disagree with and take issue with that. I understand. I've read much that HRC has written and found myself focusing more on the village necessary for teaching. 

We women have long endured secondary status, so I'm longing for a morning after celebration that allows me to shout the words of Maya Angelou in "Still I Rise." 

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,You may trod me in the very dirtBut still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?Why are you beset with gloom?'Cause I walk like I've got oil wellsPumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,With the certainty of tides,Just like hopes springing high,Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?Bowed head and lowered eyes?Shoulders falling down like teardrops.Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?Don't you take it awful hard'Cause I laugh like I've got gold minesDiggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,You may cut me with your eyes,You may kill me with your hatefulness,But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?Does it come as a surpriseThat I dance like I've got diamondsAt the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shameI riseUp from a past that's rooted in painI riseI'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.Leaving behind nights of terror and fearI riseInto a daybreak that's wondrously clearI riseBringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,I am the dream and the hope of the slave.I riseI riseI rise.


I long to rise Wednesday morning and hear the sound of shattering glass and the breaking of the thickest glass ceiling in America. 

Each Tuesday the team at Two Writing Teachers sponsors the Slice of Life
Story Challenge. I'm grateful to these ladies for their unwavering commitment to
the power of narrative. Thank you. Head over to TWT for more slices. 


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