No Matter Who Wins

What will we do if Trump wins the election?

This question has been the name of my fear for the past few months. Admittedly, I removed myself from all conversations about this year’s election, citing self-care as a reason to detach myself from the nonsense and noise of politics. But here we are, the day before the election, and question remaining, my silence haunting.

I have heard people joke about moving out of the country. I have heard people making actual plans. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous of my friends with dual-citizenship. I, too, have the impulse to run away from it all. To silence it forever. To go where I can forget.  At the end of the day, if I’m being honest with myself, I don’t actually want to spend my life running away from my problems. I don’t actually want to leave people to clean up the mess of my absence. As much as I’d like to do it, I know that moving out of the country doesn’t make me exempt from being engaged with what happens to it.

So what will we do if Trump wins?

Asking this question has revealed a deep fear: Not being self-determining. My fear is that if Trump is elected president, I will lose the freedoms that my ancestors have fought so hard for me to have.   This election has revealed so much of America’s darkness. It has always been there — this ugly side—  this election has just brought it to light.  My fear is that this ugly side will suddenly have permission to show it's face. I imagine how the whole world will turn upside down — how we will regress, suddenly, into the past and be forced to navigate a world more full of explicit violence. 

What will we do if Trump wins?

I have asked the question, and heard the silence after it reverberate for days.

What will we do?

Fear reminds me to take control over my experience. I picture myself in a boxing ring, blinded by lights, standing face-to-face with my fear. Fear is an opponent whose only role in the fight is to help you learn new strategy. Fear helps me recognize when I need to change my own behavior — when there’s something within me that is begging to evolve or transform.

Yes, I am deeply afraid of what will happen in this country if Trump is elected president, but I am even more afraid of becoming a person who willingly hands over her freedom. Who is silent about her pain. Who accepts what she has been handed. Who throws her hands up at the sight of a war-torn country and says, "I voted. I did all I could do." 

This election has helped me articulate an urgent determination: I refuse to be a person who chooses fear over freedom.  A civil rights song gave me the language "Before I’ll be a slave, I’ll be buried in my grave.”  If Trump wins, I will continue to fight for my freedom the same way that my ancestors have been fighting for centuries. I will continue to educate myself, to take better care of myself, to deepen my understanding of my inherent value as a human being. I will continue to make loving myself an act of resistance.  If Trump wins, I will throw more parties. I will open my home to a wider community of family and friends. I will be intentional about facilitating and participating in critical conversations about how to make this world a better place. I refuse to let an elected official keep me from my growth, my learning, my pleasure, my joy.    

If Trump wins, we will keep on fighting. When we cannot change our environment, we must change ourselves. We will commit to doing the work of personal growth and transformation. We will keep on showing up for each other. We will become better listeners. We will be more aware of the places and people that could use our magic and energy. We will focus harder on our purpose.  James Baldwin wrote, The point is to get your work done, and your work is to change the world.  

No matter who wins, this much is clear: We have work to do.   What happens tomorrow will not make or break us. Only we define our destiny.

I have been silent about the election for months because I have seen how heavy it weighs on people’s spirits. I have removed myself from watching the debates and reading the articles, because it makes me feel hopeless, and I have come to understand hope as some of our most powerful magic.

If Trump wins, I will not be discouraged— I refuse to give up hope about what’s possible for the future.   I will remember that we give away our power by believing that we don’t have any-- that giving too much power over to our politicians makes us forget what we are capable of on our own accord. We have always been fighting for each other. We have always held our own morals and values up against those mandated by law.  If Trump wins, we shall go on. We will each other deeper, harder. We’ll stop being so goddamn afraid to speak out against injustice. We’ll feel renewed in our commitment to be agents for change. 

I refuse to let what happens tomorrow determine the course of my life, and if it tries, I’ll spend the rest of it fighting back. 

Jamila Reddy