Friday, November 11, 2016

May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor... America

Published 11/11/2016

So that happened. America has voluntarily chosen a leader who is racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, an admitted perpetrator of sexual assault and a fraudulent and failed business man. Not only does he possess no political or military experience, he is rude, ill-informed, a documented liar and can rarely be called upon to construct a complete sentence. He makes up words- what the hell is “bigly?” He is a bully, and he has bad hair. But barring an impeachment for one of the many crimes he is currently awaiting trial, or a Hail Mary in the form of faithless voters in the electoral college, we will be stuck with him (and Pence and Putin) for the next four years. I’m going to start training for an actual Hunger Games now, because I feel it coming.

Say what you will about Hillary, but the truth is that had she been a man, emails or no emails, her competence, poise, knowledge of foreign policy, relationships both foreign and domestic and the fact that she’s just a boss would have landed her in the White House. There should have been absolutely no question.

And yet, here we are. The beginning of my day on Tuesday was vastly different from the way it ended. I was the eighth person in line at my polling place at 6:45 in the morning. When I got to the booth I took a moment, and then I cast my vote. I voted for a woman who was more than capable of being the leader of the free world and it was one of the more empowering moments in my life. I didn’t have much time to revel in my elation though, because I had to rush across town for an audition, which was followed by one of the best writing meetings of my time in LA. When people begin to take you seriously it is a weighty thing. I couldn’t help but feel that I, like America, was on the precipice of something new and inspiring and unprecedented.

Boy, was I right about the unprecedented part. Cut several hours ahead to my friend and I watching in shocked horror when the electoral map projected that our girl had lost Pennsylvania. Betrayed by the state of my birth!  Wednesday was hard. Wednesday was nearly impossible. I wandered around in a fugue state, hoping I had dreamt it all, praying for a do-over, waiting for Ashton Kutcher to jump out of the bushes proclaiming that he’d punked us all. But Ashton never came.

In the few days since this travesty of democracy has transpired, I realized that I felt a more crushing sense of grief and disorientation than I did after September 11th. Because this betrayal was internal. Or was it? As the incidents of violence and aggression towards women and minorities have increased (with many of the perpetrators citing the president-elect as inspiration) I’ve been forced to remind myself that  as a black woman, America was never meant for me to thrive in. 200 years ago I would have been free labor, an object to rape or three-fifths of a person- hooray Manifest Destiny! I shouldn’t have been shocked that a solid half of the country chose a candidate based on his platform of isolationism and white supremacy. I wanted to believe that we were better than that.

So then there are the questions. Will he be impeached? Will the electoral college step up on December 19th and vote with the majority of the people? Should I, as a Californian vote for secession in 2018 so that the golden state can become an autonomous republic?  As I ponder all of these things, I try to force myself to breathe, to continue living, to continue pursuing my art. Actors, writers, dancers, artists- now more than ever we have a responsibility not just to entertain, but to hold up a mirror to society and tell the truth. It is crucial that we be as thought provoking and illuminating as we are fanciful. I try to remind myself of this. I try to remind myself that I am a person of faith.

I’m not often overt about this, as I hope that people can glean from my actions that I'm attempting to live a godly life. I try to be kind and generous, I try not to cut people off in traffic too often, and I try (and usually fail) not to talk shit about people. I am not perfect, but I believe that God is gracious and full of love, and that he is patient with me and with all of us. I bring this up because in the wake of this election I have seen several of my dear friends and the casual Facebook ranter proclaiming, and rightfully so, that the large number of people who claim to be evangelical Christians who voted for Trump are partly to blame for his path to the White House. I have seen the pain and confusion and disillusionment of people who are perplexed and repulsed by people representing a religion of love, who have in turn voted for hatred and exclusion.

My dear gay friends, and fellow people of color, please know that what you’re seeing is not Christianity and it is not the love of Christ. Also, I love you guys, and I will never push you aside. The fact that swaths of the country are misrepresenting God and hiding their hate behind religion hurts my heart. Please, please know that I for one don’t feel that way.  As I read the reports of LGBTQ people being attacked and Muslim women being threatened and having their hijabs ripped from their heads, I had an immediate visceral reaction. I was nauseous and near tears because I’m a human being. I would argue that my humanity is the most godlike part of me if I am indeed made in his image, and that anyone who thinks otherwise needs some serious introspection at the very least.

I realize that white rural voters and Latino voters and staunch Republicans and people who didn't vote are largely responsible for the election results, but I feel that Christians had a responsibility this year and failed. I am tired of hearing from those who didn’t vote, or threw away their vote for a third party candidate on principal that “God is in control.” That may be so, but as people who live in the world, it is wildly irresponsible and grossly negligent to carelessly abstain from the democratic process which we’re a part of. 

Refusing to do anything and saying that God will take care of it is tantamount to refusing to study for a test and then praying for the answers. You’re going to fail your test! In this case, you may lose your healthcare or see someone you care about deported or forced into conversion therapy. It’s not okay! Nor is it okay to have voted for Trump in spite of his many glaring deficiencies because you think that he will protect your values. First of all, he is NOT going to do the things he said or benefit the people who voted for him. But secondly, no one’s reproductive health is your business. It’s just not. If you don’t believe in abortions, don’t have one. But don’t be a proponent for the defunding of Planned Parenthood because they do far more than perform abortions, and even if that was all they did, your feelings about what other people do with their uterus is no reason to plunge the country into turmoil for four years and possibly beyond.


I’ve often wondered in the last couple days if somehow I karmically brought this upon myself. I’ve recently been musing that my life seems to be slipping by so quickly- where did this year go? How is it already March? How can summer already be over? OMG Thanksgiving is in two weeks! Well, I suspect that the next four years will creep by at a snail’s pace. But slow or not, the world will keep on turning. A friend told me that an older white woman saw her removing the Hillary sticker from her car while she was at a gas station on Wednesday. She walked over to her and shared that she felt as devastated about the election results as she did the day JFK was assassinated. But she lived through it. We will all get through this. 

I think it’s perfectly fine and healthy to take a day or a week and gather yourself because if you're like me, you are mourning and wildly vacillating between all five stages of grief. But once you’ve cleared your head, get organized, follow your dreams, be civically responsible and be kind, VOTE IN THE PRIMARIES… and maybe apply for Canadian citizenship. Just in case.