Last Wednesday was the lowest I’ve ever felt in my life, and I say that knowing full well that this statement only lays bare the extraordinarily privileged and sheltered life I’ve lived so far compared to the vast majority of the world’s population. I know that. But it’s my truth, and the truth is that last Wednesday I was filled with a despair and hopelessness that I had never felt before. I simply could not comprehend how the insidious nature of fear, hate, and intolerance could have penetrated our society so thoroughly. I went to work and couldn’t stop alternating between raging and crying as my co-workers watched in shock, because up until that point I don’t think they had ever even heard me raise my voice before. I apologized to our new intern, assuring her that normally I was an extremely positive, cheerful, and optimistic person, and that on only her third day at work she was witnessing me at my most despondent. I went home, poured all of my emotions into my writing, and went to bed, emotionally exhausted and despairing for the future. And then I woke up to a new morning.
Funny thing about time zones. You see, right about the time John Podesta was telling everyone to go home and get some sleep, I was waking up to our frightening new reality, which meant that by the time I woke up on Thursday, the rest of America had poured their emotions into writing as well. I woke up to Leslie Knope’s letter to America, Aaron Sorkin’s promise to his daughter, and a husband’s impassioned letter to his wife. I woke up to a chorus of people ready to stand up and fight, along with step by step guides on how to do exactly that, and lists of organizations who desperately need our help. I woke up to an American friend who lives in Paris declaring that he was moving back to the US to do his part as a lawyer to protect those who are suddenly so much more vulnerable to attacks and discrimination. And I woke up to Seth Meyers, moved to tears at the thought that his mother may not live to see the first female president. He observed that although Hillary Clinton didn’t become the first female president, someone else’s daughter out there will be one day, and to that woman, wherever she may be, he said that this moment would probably be a defining moment for her.
Well, I can’t become president of the United States, and thankfully it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m a woman and everything to do with the fact that I’m not American, but I can say categorically that this is my defining moment. Last Wednesday I felt only shock, anger, and disbelief, but I woke up on Thursday with a determination I have never felt before. A determination to not take this assault on morality lying down. A determination to raise my voice against the hate and fear that led to this election result. A determination to not sit passively in the background any longer, to not be afraid to rock the boat or engage in confrontation. I’m ready to scream and shout, to turn some goddamned tables over, and I am determined to fight back against the racist, sexist, homophobic, and xenophobic forces that threaten to overtake our society in any way I can. On Thursday, one of my closest friends told me that a determined Laura is an unstoppable force. I hope I will prove worthy of her faith in me. However, I’m comforted beyond words with the knowledge that this is not about me. It is about all of us, coming together to right this terrible wrong, and I know that there are millions out there, not just in the US, but across the world who are just as determined as me. You are my brothers and sisters in arms and we are in this together.
That being said, I’m not going to pretend that I know how to fix this mess. I have no idea how we are going to bring such polarized factions together and try to heal this fractured divide. But I know that there are people out there who do, or at the very least have ideas on how to accomplish the enormous task that lays in front of us. To those people I say this. I want to hear from you. Activists, policymakers, politicians, lawyers, artists, accountants, anyone and everyone. If you have an idea of how to fix this I want to hear from you. I may not have the income bracket that allows me to be able to support you financially, but you have my voice, you have my skills, and you have my time. If you need me, I will be there. Just tell me what to do. To my friends in Paris, I know you’re worried about your own upcoming election, so just tell me where to be and I’ll show up. I’ll march with you, I’ll write on your behalf, and I’ll raise my voice with yours.
In the meantime, I’m going to focus on what I do know. I know that I never want to feel the way I did last Wednesday ever again. I never want to feel that helpless, that dejected, and so utterly devoid of hope, and I’m going to fight tooth and nail to make sure that future generations will never have to feel what I felt on that dark day. Ever. I also know what I will do that starts right now. In the wake of the Brexit vote and the immediate rise in violence and hate crimes directed at minorities that followed, people began pinning a safety pin to their clothing. It was a symbol of safety that declared that they were an ally, and that if someone was the target of abuse, then there was someone else out there who had their back. Today I’m wearing my safety pin, and I will continue to wear it every day until Donald Trump is no longer the president of the United States. If you need an ally, I will be there for you. I’ve shouted down racists on the Metro before and I’ll do it again, louder, and as many times as I need to until people figure out that discrimination and hate have no place in our society going forward. I got your back, and I hope someone has mine. And if not, at the very least I have hope again.