It's homecoming week for Northeastern. It was always a busy week for me when I was still there - not as busy as Springfest week, but still busy. I was on the student activity board that planned most of the events on campus known as CUP (The Council for University Programming). It was an amazing experience, and gave me the opportunity to meet a lot of cool celebrities. However since I've graduated, CUP has gone from getting cool people, to getting my heroes. I'm not sure why it never occurred to me to try to get these people when I was there, but I have no problem enjoying them now as an alumni.
This year's homecoming headliner was Amy Poehler. Someone I've been trying to get in the same room with for years. So it was a no brainier, even though it was a "past-my-bedtime" event on a work night. And naturally I brought my best friend along.
Listen, it's been a rough week. I have a feeling its been rough for a lot of you. I'll admit that I was living in a dream world. A world where I thought that discrimination was decreasing. A world where we could stop treating someone differently because of their gender, or skin color, or person they love. I was sure that our country was ready to take another step forward and defeat hate. I'll blame it partially on my privilege and partially on the fact that I live in a very liberal region.
Instead, it's become painfully obvious that the hate, discrimination, sexism, racism, bigotry, etc that has plagued our country is not only still here, but has been given a microphone. It breaks my heart and makes me scared for the future.
So I was hoping, a little bit, that if anyone could make me feel better, it would be Amy Poehler. After all, she's the voice of kindness and reason on "Smart Girls at the Party." She's incredibly smart with a degree from Boston College, and has spent her career giving advice and bringing happiness to everyone.
Somethings, however, are so bad that comedy and wisdom and reason cannot make them better. When she came out on stage, the person interviewing her asked about her thoughts on the week, especially given that she has played both Hillary Clinton on SNL and Leslie Knope (a strong woman who runs for office against an underqualified-man-boy opponent) on Parks and Recreation. Here was her answer:
"I found something out this week. Me and Leslie Knope are different people.
Leslie would tell you find your people right now, gather them around you, and get back to work.... and I'm like fffff-f*ck everyone!
Honestly, there was really a part of me that broke during this election. I'm just so f*cking cranky and sad."
She didn't have an answer for us, she could only commiserate with us. And I get it. Because here's the thing, this is not easily fixable. There is nothing anyone can say to make this okay.
I know that some of you might be thinking that I'm overreacting. That I'm being dramatic. Maybe you even voted for that reality star bully and actually believe he's fit for the highest position of power in our country. Maybe you are claiming that you voted for him because despite his incompetence and numerous bankruptcies, you believed his claim that he's a good businessman. Maybe you chose to ignore all the "other" parts of him and racist things he said, because you don't really think he believes them. Or maybe you just didn't like Secretary Clinton. It's not because she's a woman, you say. There's just something about her that you don't like.
Well I'm sorry, but I call bull sh*t.
Make all the excuses you want, but this is what I hear:
You saw a strong woman of power, who was unapologetic and was demanding your respect, and it made you uneasy. Even though she was the most qualified candidate we've had in years, maybe ever, you claimed she was a criminal and not the best person for the job. Despite the fact the other person is actually criminal and in currently involved in multiple lawsuits and is set to go to trial later this month. Despite the fact that he's never held office and his biggest claim is harassing celebrities on a reality show.
What I hear is, you heard the sexual assault claims against him, and decided that it didn't matter. That a woman's safety and dignity and body autonomy does not matter to you. Or maybe you didn't believe all. those. women. You took a man's word over theirs. Reinforcing the reason that so many assaults go unreported.
That's fine, but you need to own it. You need to be able to look at me and say that you value your wealth and privilege and comfort more than my worth as a woman. You need to be able to look at a person of color or someone who has immigrated to this country and say that you were so unnerved by having a women in power that you prioritized a reality star over their personal safety. Because that's exactly what you did.
It all makes me want to cry. And I have, quite a few time this week. I've been doing what I can to try and remain positive. I'm trying to focus on the small good things in my life right now (like finally getting my popcorn after waiting in line for 45 minutes) so I'm not reduced to crying all day, every day... I'm trying to fight hopelessness with action and strength. This week alone I've donated to Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, NAACP, RAINN and other organizations that I think might get us through the next four years.
I'm trying to remember that not everyone in this country voted for him, and that at least half this country is feeling the way I am. I'm trying to believe that even the half that did, not all of them are hateful people. Some of them are hopefully misguided or uneducated, and will help to fight against the hatred and anger that has been circulating in this country. Maybe there's still some hope.
I saw this sign as I was waiting in the lobby for food. It warmed my heart a bit. Part of my memories of being in student activities at Northeastern are of all the fights we had with other student organizations. There were groups we got along with, groups we didn't, and ones we were in constant competition with. But at the end of the day, we were all Northeastern students. And this collage of Northeastern student organizations reinforces that point.
And the same is true for the United States. There are people here we like, people we don't, and people we're constantly fighting with. But we're all citizens of this country. So no, I'm not going to threaten to move to Canada or say that I hate this country because of who we elected as our president. Instead I'm going to stay and fight. I'm going to stand up for my fellow citizens who can't fight for themselves. I'm going to call out others who are being inappropriate and mean and denying constitutional rights. And I'm going to fight for the country that I know we can be.
And I'm not going to get over this. I'm not going to let it go. I'm mad, and I'm going to stay mad. But I'm also not going to stop enjoying life and finding happiness where I can. And I think that's okay.