the year of men

at smith, there was a professor who wrote about the violence of gender and the profoundness of silence. he told us that he needed to sit in a room by himself for a couple hours a day, just thinking. his book, “quiet,” traced the power of silence for Black people — for survival, for resistance.

i’ve been quiet the last two weeks without thinking i have any right to it. the results of this election should never ever have taken me by surprise. america was built by slaves and has always been ruled by white men. “we almost forgot that to be a woman is to be seen as less than human,” my tired older coworker told me. beyond hillary, we we live in a country not made for the (dis)abled, brown, poor, indigenous, queer. if hashtags were centuries old #notmypresident would almost always have been relevant.

i’ve been quiet because i feel like words, logic, smartness, compassion, justice, progress and hope have so profoundly failed me. failed us. failed this whole country. what words can save us now? we elected a hateful, slippery troll. liberals were so funny, so reasonable, so smart, so logical and so good. but all of that was folly: it turns out that all along, we were just feeding the troll. hope feels dangerous. i do not want to normalize this with platitudes and optimism. had america had a little less hope/denial/fundamental faith in humanity during the holocaust, we might have intervened sooner. millions could have survived. hope feels like complacency and complacency feels like death.

in november in alaska the sun rises at 10 and sets at 4 – in every sense of the matter, i’m falling into darkness and yet: my jaded, worried heart feels full, too. it’s not hope, it’s love. i am in love. despite all this, my bones are jelly. there is sun in me. when everything is quiet i know that everything is terrible and yet there is this boy out there, with a scar across his eyebrow and a perfect memory who treats me like i am the sun.

this is the year a troll with a swastika was elected for president over a brilliant, smart and capable woman. this is also the year i fell in love with a man who is not afraid of me. who sees me as fully human. i am heartbroken and in love and afraid and fierce. this is not normal but i still have faith that it’s possible in this country of old men for love to trump hate.


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