I walked to work today. I usually take the subway, but today I walked. I needed time to think – or, not think – to clear my head, to process the events of the past 24 hours. But instead of thinking (or not thinking) I found myself watching faces. I live in the city so, unlike people living in the majority of the country, the faces I see every day are different than my own face. The faces I see are the faces of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans, Muslim Americans, Jewish Americans, Gay Americans, Transgender Americans.
These are the faces that make America great every single day.
I celebrate them. I cherish them. I count myself lucky to be among them.
So as I walked the mile from the parking garage to my office on this, the morning after our country elected a misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, anti-LGBT, anti-Muslim, wall-building, tax-dodging, crotch-grabbing demagogue, I studied the faces of my fellow Americans and, for perhaps the first time, every face looked the same. By the stadium, across the bridge, waiting in line at Starbucks, on the steps of the church – everywhere – I saw written across these faces the same thing: shock, sadness, embarrassment.
I had spent the previous evening watching the election results and, with each state that turned red, I turned to my husband and asked, “Who are we?”
Now, confronted by the faces of my fellow Americans, I saw exactly who we were.
In their faces I saw the faces of all the women I knew and how it must have felt to wake up to learn that the glass ceiling had not been shattered, but reinforced.
I saw the faces of my female friends who had exercised the deeply personal right to choose and what it must be like for them to now have that right in doubt.
I saw the faces of my friends and their Hispanic children and I tried to imagine the sense of fear and uncertainty those kids would face in this new America with its walls and borders and hatred of brown people.
I saw the faces of the many incredible gay men and women who fought so hard for equality and who were now faced with losing that equality at the hands of family and friends who had turned their backs on them in the name of change or protest.
I saw the faces of my transgender friends who still have to fight to use a public restroom.
I saw the faces of the brave parents who fight every day for their special needs children and how much harder that fought just became for them.
I saw the face of my African American foster son and what it must be like for him in a world where all lives matter and blue lives matter, but only sometimes do black lives matter.
I saw the faces of my adopted children and I understood that in a world run by Mike Pence they would not be my children.
I saw the face of my husband, a man I have loved for almost twenty years of my life, and I thought how easily everything we had could be taken away.
And then at last I saw my own face and I felt my anger, my disappointment, my sadness.