The election has come and gone. I was wowed by the sea of media trucks while passing McCormick Place on my way to work earlier this week. Goosebumps exposed themselves as memories of election night 2008 surfaced – an intoxicating mixture of Shepard Fairey images, MSNBC marathons, personal Facebook punditry and the magic moment when I stood with thousands in Grant Park and witnessed President-elect Barack Obama take the stage. That night I celebrated with post-election drinks with my friend Joe as we crashed an Obama staff party at the Inter Continental. The 5am walk to the train through downtown Chicago was consequently the safest I’ve felt walking through downtown, ever. I think I even made a series of “I love you” phone calls to the elders in my family and the people in my life that I knew were in an emotional place on that historic day.
I sat down to a pancake breakfast with my family on Inauguration Day. It was a celebration. We watched everything. We wept. I even sat through the parade. It was as if a great stone had been lifted from the generations of African Americans and people of color. I could only imagine that the feeling would be akin to Sisyphus finally getting his stone up the hill and it not rolling back down. Progress.
This election season was a truly about old school mentality v. the changing American landscape. Women’s issues like abortion were hot-button topics where we heard terms like “legitimate rape” and other vile commentaries that reflected ideological extremes. Veterans were honored and highlighted, especially at the Democratic National convention where women like Tammy Duckworth – a bi-racial, multicultural woman and the first female double amputee from the Iraq war ran for (and won) a seat in congress. There’s an unprecedented female presence of powerful, progressive women with incredible minds that will take their seats in the United States Senate. These results promise to be a big win for women, immigrants, the disenfranchised, LGBT communities, the middle class and people of color. It’s been documented that women and “minorities” (especially Latinos) came out in record numbers and carried Obama to re-election. In fact, if there’s anything that was loud and clear about this election, it’s that people turned out in record numbers to say, “Progress must continue.”
What will the results of this election mean for our women of color in the military, on first response teams, in social work, nursing, and law enforcement? What will it mean for the DREAMers? Will Tuesday’s vote bear the fruit of legislative change and create unilateral shifts in the institutions that have remained traditionally white and male? These questions weigh heavily on my mind as we continue to write this show. The women we’ve interviewed are pioneers, some entering these fields long before the 21st century, battling antiquated mentalities and obstacles one may only believe exist in movies. They have had to navigate systems that had no room, no paradigm to make them a part of the fold, no infrastructure within these fields to help them when they’ve encountered institutional racism, sexism and worse – physical assault and mental abuse. These issues will clearly not vanish overnight. The election was close. The popular vote numbers show a country divided, so while we have much to celebrate, there’s much work to be done. We’re still still evolving and it takes the work and the voices of all of us to ensure that we are all treated with respect and dignity. Which is why I love this project and the potential impact it can have by shedding light on the experiences of some extraordinary women.
My family will most likely come together again for Inauguration Day breakfast. Although she will not comprehend it, my daughter will be watching the re-elected first African American President of the United States take the oath of office. She will never have to second-guess whether or not that is an attainable goal like her mother did. My generation waded in between post-civil rights era residual sentiments (both positive and negative) and the revolution of MTV, home computers and internet. To talk about inclusiveness, diversity and equality was for special interest groups, “agitators,” radicals, and hippies. So while we all know that much needs to be done, we cannot forget how far we’ve come.
We would love to hear what you think about the results of this election. What does it mean to you? Do you think progress will be made in these next four years? What are you looking forward to? Share your thought with us.
:: Karla is an Artistic Associate with Teatro Luna. She recently had a beautiful baby named Frida (who is truly our newest Lunatica), and she will be hosting our AY MAMIS series. She is on the writing team for SUPERMUJERES (opens Sept 2013) and on a yet to be titled project that will have its world-premiere in Los Angeles in 2014. :::