There is much you can do. There is much we must do.
There is a fundamental paradox I confront in every election: that when I step behind that curtain into the solitude of the voting booth, I undertake a private, solemn act, but one that has an explicitly public intent.
I think that is why for me — and for many people I spoke with yesterday — there was a ringing in my ears of confusion, even sadness: that the result of the Presidential election wasn’t just a loss for some “team” I root for, but it felt like a repudiation of deeply-held values: solidarity, empathy, community, equity, justice.
Certainly, I thought, the scapegoating and denigration of so many people — African Americans, women, immigrants, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, native Americans, the list goes on and on — would be disqualifying. Nor did I think misogyny and racial divisiveness would be acceptable political currency in 2016.
When neither of these assumptions proved to be accurate, I was forced to ask myself: Why not? Aren’t the values of justice, equity, community, solidarity essential threads of the social fabric that knit together our nation? Or are we really fractious clans locked in a zero-sum struggle fraught with misogyny and racial division?
The answer, it seems, is mixed: Justice, equity, community, and solidarity are knitted into our social fabric and must be cultivated and nurtured. So too, however, are the threads of misogyny, racism, and white supremacy, which must be named and rooted out.
And this essential work is not completed in the voting booth. This is not to say that elections don’t matter. They do. But elections alone are not sufficient. Certainly, electing a black President did not eliminate racism.
Justice and equity must be constructed by real people, in real relationships, in real community. Our communities are only as just and equitable as we ourselves make them. Through our words, our deeds, and in our relationships.
And there is much you can do. There is much we must do.
Stand up and with and for our sisters and brothers whose very identities make them targets.
Support the organizations in Maine doing critically important work to advance racial justice and gender equity in our state.
Learn about their work.
Go to their websites.
In Her Presence
Maine Immigrants’ Rights Coalition
Maine Inside Out
Maine-Wabanaki REACH, Maine Communities
Mano en Mano | Hand in Hand
New Mainers Tenants’ Association
Raise-Op Housing Cooperative
Somali Bantu Community Mutual Assistance Association of Maine
Tree Street Youth