Love, Informed Critique, Optimism, and Inclusion: Serving Together as My Compass

Today, is November 7, 2016, which makes tomorrow one of the most critical days in U.S. history thus far, and to be completely honest, until I started writing this blog, I was in complete horror of the current state of our union. As I scroll up and down on my FB Wall, share my decision to STAND WITH HER to make HERSTORY, and read the numerous news articles predicting the outcome of the election before it has even ended, my heart continues to beat frantically and my blood pressure is probably off the charts.

However, writing this blog gave me some type of peace that I haven’t felt since Donald Trump announced his candidacy. (Yes, it has been a while)

Throughout the past five days in Santo Domingo, I have spent nearly 20 hours per day, laughing, smiling, joking, drinking, eating, and celebrating my birthday and the birthday of my little Spelman sister! Shamelessly, becoming desensitized to the realities of this upcoming election. Today, my brain is filled with the beautiful memories of this weekend and the love that I received is still oozing from my pores.  I successfully blocked out the realities of the U.S., as I graciously welcomed my new Dominican Republic friends and family to dinner, brunch, and parties each night this weekend. I know I am truly blessed to find a beautiful group of people in the D.R. who are willing to accept me, care for me, and trust me after only two months.

I believe in divine intervention and trust that God directed my path in order for me to experience this city, at this time in my life, and to leave the U.S., knowing the inconceivable state of our nation. None of the blessings I've received or challenges faced are circumstantial, nor are the challenges the U.S. faces today, on Nov. 7th, as we make our final decisions, and tomorrow as we cast our vote on Election Day.

As my close Dominican friend shared with me Sunday evening, this would be the first election her Dad decided to vote in a long, long time, as his dual citizenship gives him the right to vote in both Dominican and U.S. elections. Both my friend and her Father have had this right for a while but as Dominican elections are often corrupt or rigged (like actually, not the sort of rigging that Donald Trump refers to every other day) and U.S. elections have not engaged them in a way where they felt it was vital to vote, they consequently have not voted in the past. However, as my friend’s Dad submitted his ballot this year, he reminded her that she had no CHOICE but to vote for ONE PERSON in this election (and she better submit it immediately, he stated).

Learning about her decision to vote as a Dominican-American gave me comfort, frightened me, and inspired me simultaneously. I was so glad this election had been successful in reaching out to often marginalized voters, but was it the fear of a broken society that touched these communities, rather than the inspiration or promise of a stronger, better, more inclusive nation? I am excited to hear that voters who live outside of the U.S. are submitting their ballots, but what can we be doing better as a nation to ensure that they vote in EVERY election, not solely this society altering election that has made most of us fear for our lives and security?

As I explained to my Dominican friends why I voted for Hillary Clinton, I realized that I have an incredible responsibility in these conversations. I must not only articulate my reasons for supporting Sec. Clinton, but I must offer them the security in knowing that I believe in the soul and heart of our nation. I must demonstrate that fear did not drive my vote, love did! Insults did not drive my rhetoric; informed critique did!  Negativity did not drive my decision; optimism did!  Divisiveness did not drive my support for Sec. Clinton; inclusion did!

Love, informed critique, optimism, and inclusion guide my journey through new nations, cities, and communities around the world.  These four principles have led me to my new D.R. family and have always attracted the world to the United States. While you may find INDIVIDUALS who share those principles worldwide, it is often difficult to find governments, elections, and political leaders outside of the U.S. that emulate those principles.

It is possible to have both in our great country, in our United States of America. I voted this year, next to my new family in the D.R. for a country that will emulate the principles that have brought me closer to finding love, acceptance, and peace abroad and that will always bring me back home.

Tomorrow, I have no doubt that the United States will also vote for those principles, as love, informed critique, optimism, and inclusion are not WHAT we do but are rather WHO we are! 

¡Felicitaciones a los Estados Unidos por haber escogido a la primera mujer como Presidente! (Estoy lo reclamando!)

There is much to celebrate this week, U.S.; light your candles, cut the cake, make a toast, to the next era of U.S. government and politics!

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