Aurora James, Post Election: We Must Seek to Understand Each Other

On her way to a protest at Trump Towers, Brother Vellies designer Aurora James reflects on the surprising and emotional aftermath of the 2016 presidential election.

by Aurora James

Jason Eric Hardwick.

Just like you, I was blindsided by the results of the 2016 election. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I thought about the ocean washing over me the way it did when I was a child trying to hide from my stepfather. I thought about the names I had been called as that same child by the kids at school. I thought about how as a young black woman, I made choices to put myself in a position where I would never have to tolerate being called names again. But I see those names now wash into my inbox.

As I type this on my phone, walking towards Trump Towers with a group of five thousand, it still feels surreal that Donald Trump is now the president elect. My social media feed is singing songs of peace and moving forward. I am not there yet, I am mourning. I am angry. My eyes and heart are frantically searching the tunnel for the way out. I want to hide.

That 63 percent of white men who voted for Donald Trump will never know the true fear I know. The shame many of my sisters have felt. The displacement so many people feel right now sitting inside of this Country. That 63 percent didn’t think about how we would feel after the election, and if they did they didn’t care. That 63 percent still expects us to serve them.

But to that 53 percent of white women who voted for Donald Trump, some of you know how I feel. And I know how some of you have felt. Why do you let them hurt you? Why do you let them diminish your value? Why do we want to settle so easily to let them keep the dominant role, to let them grab us and shut us down and judge us by our physicality? Believe me when I tell you are capable of so much more.

There is more pain in this country than I realized. There is more hypocrisy than I thought possible. There is as much fear as the television told me. There is repair work that needs to be done, and this starts with us. Not voting is not an option. Democracy is about participation. We need to seek out the facts. Memes are not facts. We need to educate ourselves and keep an open honest heart and mind to other people’s points of view. Writing entire groups of the population off because we disagree with them is no longer an option. We must seek to understand them. And every single day we need to stand up and speak out for what we believe in. A revolution is not convenient. Change does not happen on your schedule. This will not be easy, it’s going to be really, really hard. But we will come out on the other side. As artists we must continue doing what we do best. We must channel these feelings into vehicles for conversation and education.

We’re one people. And we will rise again.

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A protester at an anti-Trump rally in New York.