Why I #VowToFight
By Valarie Kaur
When the first election results came in on Tuesday night – and the unthinkable became possible, then inevitable – I first put my hand over my mouth. I felt the horror in my throat, my face flushed, my breathing shallow. I wanted to rage and cry.
My toddler tugged at my shirt and shouted “Evening Edition!” This is his name for our bedtime routine of stories, songs, and prayers to get him to sleep. I didn’t think I had it in me. Still my husband and I turned off CNN and held back our tears. We sat on the red cushion and opened The Little Engine That Could and read. Next it was time to dance — and so somehow, we danced. We danced to “Firework” and “Roar” as he spun around us; I even laughed. Through the pain and fear and anger, I remembered joy. I remembered love. And how love makes us brave. And how love strengthens us to fight. For this is what we must do.
When I finally put him down in the crib, I thought of the world he will wake up to — a little brown boy in Donald Trump’s America. A little boy who will face the threat of hate, violence, bullying and bigotry in what is now called the era of “enormous rage.”
And I made a vow — I will fight. I will fight for him. For us. For this country. No matter what. This will be a long hard fight against racism and hate and bigotry and oppression. It is a fight for the soul of our country. A fight we can wage with and through love. This is essential.
As you sit with your shock and pain, don’t bury the hurt too quickly. Hold your anger, honor it. Our love strengthens us and our pain teaches us how to fight — but only if we refuse to be alone with it.
Tomorrow let us go to each other with our grief and our pain and share it over a cup of tea, a piece of chocolate, a song on the playlist. Let’s sit with our co-workers and students — and just listen. Listen like we never have before. Let’s call our parents and grandparents and tell them we love them. Snuggle our babies. Skype with our best friend. Smell the sea. Look for the stars. They are still there. There is beauty and love that surrounds us — on all sides. And it can make us strong. It can make us brave. Brave enough to face the politics of hate.
Because the forces of fear, nativism, bigotry, and rage that fueled Donald Trump’s candidacy have won. And it feels like darkness is swallowing our nation whole.
Here is the truth: The future is dark.
But we can choose to believe that this darkness is not the dark of a tomb, but the dark of the womb.
What if our America is a country still waiting to be born — and the story of America is one long labor? What if all the mothers who came before us, who survived genocide and occupation, slavery and Jim Crow, political oppression and sexual assault, are standing behind us now? Then, this election is the Great Contraction before we birth a new future.
So what do we do now? Remember the wisdom of the midwife:
Because soon it will be time to fight — for those we love.
So tonight, I make a sacred vow:
I will breathe. I will push. I will fight.
I will fight for mothers and grandmothers, women who work, and women who will keep families together during the hard times to come. I will fight for their daughters — girls who will need to believe in the sanctity of their bodies and power of their minds, who will need to fight the misogyny that surrounds them.
I will fight for the dignity of all people who will be attacked and hurt during this presidency — Muslim, Sikh, Black, trans, native, and immigrant mothers and fathers who are holding their children in the darkness right now. I vow to fight the racism, homophobia, and xenophobia tearing us apart — and the surveillance, detentions, deportations, and killings that terrorize us. I will pray with you in the sanctuaries and march with you in the streets. Because there should never be walls in the human heart.
And yes, I will fight for the people who voted for Donald Trump to be President out of their own feelings of economic and racial anxiety, pain, and loss. Because #RevolutionaryLove takes root in common ground, not closed ranks.
I swear this oath as a #Sikh, American and mother. I will fight for my son, my ancestors, my country and for you.
“Let America be America again,
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be…”
— Langston Hughes
We can only survive the next four years if YOU who are reading this vow to FIGHT, too. I ask you to reflect on how you want to reach out, reach across, stand up, and show up for those you love — through posts, petitions, power, and protest. Answer this: Who do you love? Who do you vow to fight for in Donald Trump’s America? Then please will you join us to find the light in this dark chapter ahead?
Valarie Kaur is a Senior Fellow at Auburn Seminary.