Last night at 9 pm, just like every other night at 9 pm, I called my parents. My father and I chatted lightheartedly about Kate McKinnon’s amazing cold open on SNL the night before and what type of humidifier I should buy for my tiny-but-boiling DC studio. In an unexpected moment of solemnity, he said:
“Fatema, I’ve been an American citizen for 31 years. There are only two things I have never failed to do. One, keep up with basketball. I was a die-hard fan, but once Michael Jordan retired, I lost my love for the game. Only recently have the ‘new greats’ made the game fun again. Two, politics. You know me, I love politics. But I don’t feel like that anymore. It’s gone. I’m done. Hillary didn’t win and nothing makes sense anymore.”
I froze. This is coming from my father? The same one who bought me a Scholastic Electoral College Map to color as the election returns came in on Election Night 2000? The same one who, without fail, would take my brother and I to the park every day after work, and return just in time to catch NBC’s Nightly News, making Tom Brokaw’s timbre the sound of my childhood? The same one who stays on FaceTime with me through The Rachel Maddow Show and texts me about our mutual love for Lawrence O’Donnell? The same one.
I know the feeling. My friends and family and colleagues know the feeling. Everyone I walk past on my commute down Pennsylvania Avenue these days is a ghost of their pre-Election Day self. It feels like we are in free-fall, a new sucker punch to the core of what we value every minute. The 2016 campaign and election have wreaked havoc on our peace of mind as American citizens, as minorities, as humans. We are disheartened and terrified for the repercussions of November 8, 2016.
I went offline for 36 hours last week and felt fresh again. I felt guilty to disengage, but craved the comfort of not caring for just a moment. Never again. I vow to never feel comfortable again, because it is comfort and complacency that have led us here in the first place. I promise to stay engaged, to keep fighting, and to keep using my voice to fight for the America I know we can be.
In the last week, every acquaintance, cousin, and distant family member from around the world has reached out for my thoughts on what the hell just happened. Close friends have suggested for a long time that I start a blog. I’ve always been hesitant, but now doesn’t seem like the time for silence. Also, our favorite prognosticators really screwed the pooch on this one, so I feel a little more qualified to scream my punditry into the void.
I have no set agenda with this endeavor, other than to create an open dialogue and share my reflections on life post-Election Day 2016. Sometimes I’ll share passages from my favorite books and poems, a quick take on a hot topic, or nothing at all. Send me your questions, suggestions, and concerns.
I’ll work to understand your fears, and I hope you’ll work to understand mine. Change starts with you. It starts with me. It starts with all of us.