I took this photo last night and I still cant believe the words I see there on the screen.
I took this photo last night and I still can't believe the words I see there on the screen.

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Soon, we'll be past shock. We'll be onto anger. I can't wait for anger. I wish I could fast-forward to anger right now, fast-forward to fire in the belly, better protests, new art, coming together in a way that only certain horrors can bring people together. But right now? I'm stuck in grief, and so is everyone I know.

Grief is like that: You're not in control.

Fantastically talented coworkers have a dead look in their eyes. Innocuous comments from friends who want to reassure me that things will be okay make me feel insane. I'm crabby and I need a hug but don't hug me because I'm crabby. I can't shake the cynical suspicion that, while I love art and activism and believe an extremist in the White House will inspire lots of activism and art-making... um, we've had a lot of activism lately, for naught, and art doesn't do anything.

Vonnegut:

During the Vietnam War, which lasted longer than any war we've ever been in—and which we lost—every respectable artist in this country was against the war. It was like a laser beam. We were all aimed in the same direction. The power of this weapon turns out to be that of a custard pie dropped from a stepladder six feet high.

Vonnegut's right. But he's also wrong. Watching Moonlight did something to me I still don't have words for. The fact that Moonlight is so simple and yet has never been depicted on a screen before tells me Vonnegut's not completely right. Maybe art can't stop wars, but art does something to your heart. Or it can. The good stuff can. One day I will have words to explain what Moonlight did to my heart, but in the meantime, if you haven't seen it yet, you should go see what it does to yours.

Go. Stop reading the internet, stop looking at social media, just go.
Go. Stop reading the internet, stop looking at social media, just go.

And take some white people with you. Take some people who aren't used to representations of black people not built from the premises of white supremacy. You realize just how much white supremacy is baked into all mainstream art when the extraordinary simplicity of Moonlight presents itself to you. I sat there, after Moonlight, shocked at its simplicity, and the realization: This very, very simple thing has never been depicted before.

People will take any claim to superiority they can, even if it's imaginary, and uneducated white people want desperately to believe in their superiority, because it's the only claim to greatness they have. Looking at how people voted along color lines fills me with grief.

You saw the results of that recent Slate survey of Trump supporters, right? A third of Trump voters admitted to pollsters they believe black people are "less evolved" than white people. Their racism trumps everything else; it may even trump their sexism. Punishing Clinton by not voting for her was a proxy for punishing Obama.

Ijeoma is right: "White America has proven once again that it would rather burn itself down and be king of the ashes, than share a better world with everyone else."

Like grief-stricken people everywhere, I'm having pangs of "Why didn't I do more?" I argued fiercely for Hillary around the office. "Why was I so sure?" I now wonder. I thought, rationally, mathematically, she had a better shot than Bernie at taking Trump to task. But who knows. Maybe Bernie would have had a better shot at getting through to uneducated whites with economic problems, who voted overwhelmingly last night against their own economic interests. Maybe he wouldn't have been so associated in ratbrain voters's minds with the black president.

I have a relative who lives in North Carolina, who was thinking of voting for Trump, whom I talked into voting for Clinton. I have a relative in New Hampshire who was thinking of voting for Johnson, whom I talked into voting for Clinton. But North Carolina and New Hampshire went to Trump anyway. I should have done more. I could have done more. I could have phone banked, I could have doorbelled, I could have donated more than $27. But I didn't. And look at us now. We're in the middle of a tragedy.

The election of Donald Trump to the Presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny, and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his ascension to the Presidency, is a sickening event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy. On January 20, 2017, we will bid farewell to the first African-American President—a man of integrity, dignity, and generous spirit—and witness the inauguration of a con who did little to spurn endorsement by forces of xenophobia and white supremacy. It is impossible to react to this moment with anything less than revulsion and profound anxiety.

At least we live in a country where David Remnick can produce a piece of writing like that with no notice, no time—it went up at 2 am. Intelligence and insight, elaborated instantaneously. We live in a country packed with extraordinary human beings. Most of them live in cities. Most of them read books. Most of them agree that social media is doing more harm than good. Gary's right:


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I'm going to start a writing party. I'm going to start a book club. I'm going to keep hosting the silent-reading party. I'm going to start throwing parties in rock clubs for authors again. I am going to throw dinner parties with people I love, people with spirit, people who are wiser than me, people who know more about the world than I do, people who challenge me, people who don't see things the way I do. That is the small way I am going to change my life after last night.

I am going to double-down on art, and friends, and the life of the city, because it's good for my heart. And you should too. Because it will be good for your heart.

But first, I'm going to grieve.