A couple of weeks before the election, I ran out of tolerance for news about the presidential race. We get two newspapers, The Providence Journal and The Wall Street Journal. Both had plenty to say about it, the former with a liberal bent, the latter with a more conservative bias. I could barely look at either of them any more. Also, it seemed that Hillary Clinton would prevail, so I relaxed a bit. What to do then, instead, while drinking my early morning coffee?
I started sketching. I used to draw a lot as a kid, and I still doodle during meetings or other times when I have to sit still. Starting around the end of October, I set aside an hour every morning to draw. My hand is not very steady, so a lot of my drawings look kind of shaky and cartoonish. (Hey, it worked for James Thurber! He was old with failing eyesight when he drew some of his best loved cartoons. His brilliant pictorial commentaries on the war between the sexes include the one below, titled simply, “Home”.)
I amused and distracted myself each morning by sketching Sophie’s cat, some imaginary furniture pieces, some abstract designs, a few flowers, my house. Election day came. At our polling place, Temple Beth-El, Jeff and I found very long lines, much disorganization, paper ballots (!) and only one ballot-counting machine. But we were able to cast our votes.
Late that night, and the next day, I shared the disbelief, depression and dread of at least half our country to find that we had elected Trump, a man whose stated beliefs and documented personal behavior are abhorrent and dangerous. Anything else I could say about this situation has been said, and said better, by someone else. But I will share some of the things that are happening in Providence RI, my new home town, as a result of the election.
Our mayor Jorge Elorza has created a “One Providence” initiative and is crafting policies to address unfair deportations, racism, criminal justice, police-community relations, and the rights of women, all religious minorities, and the LGBTQ community.
Our state’s governor, Gina Raimondo, has promised to protect reproductive rights, maintain access to affordable health care, and protect Rhode Island families from anyone, any group or any policy that promotes divisiveness and anger. She remains committed to leveling the playing field and providing economic opportunities for ALL Rhode Islanders.
RI State Representative Aaron Regunberg and others have helped organize the group “Resist Hate RI”, to bring people together in productive ways to work for a just society. As of today there are more than eleven interest areas listed on their website which people can join to work on issues including gun violence, youth organizing, and alternate media.
An excellent letter by writer, editor and publicist Daniel Trafford of Warwick RI exhorts women to remember that progress is hard-won, there are many setbacks, and wars are not won or lost in a single battle. He names many trail-blazing women whose examples should inspire us.
I’m reading the newspapers again after my little self-indulgent break. There is much there that horrifies me, but also much that inspires. People have awakened, communities are coming together, and we understand now that we must never stop fighting for a fair, safe, inclusive society that lifts up and supports all people. I’m still sketching a bit too. I’ll end on a lighter note, an animated drawing of my house set to the music of “More Than One Way Home” by Keb’ Mo’.