Early this week, big cities — including Chicago — were boarded up in preparation for election-related unrest. I ordered groceries in case conditions in Chicago got dangerous or stores were looted.
In the days leading up to Election Day, my anxiety was so bad that my back and neck were physically hurting me. I felt dread for what would happen in the days following a possible Trump win. I was scared to see what further damage he’d cause for millions of Americans if he stayed in the White House for four more years.
I couldn’t help but think back to my newspaper class my senior year of high school. We all sat in a circle the day after the 2016 election and unpacked what a Trump presidency would mean. Our journalism teacher cried to our newspaper staff — who hadn’t yet reached voting age — and apologized for letting our generation down.
I always carried this memory from high school with me. As I grew into adulthood, I felt the emotion my teacher had that day. One of my most dominating thoughts was the future of my nieces and nephews and other children who would have to confront the damages sewn by this current administration.
How would I explain the boarded up stores, the hatred and the fear?
I would tell them this is Trump’s America.
But this morning I woke up to see former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris had finally secured the presidency and vice presidency after the longest three days of my life as ballots were tallied in a few remaining states.
I felt a huge weight lifted from my chest walking around outside as Biden supporters honked their horns and waved at each other. It was a glimmer of happiness and unity in America I’d been pining for for months.
This is the America we should want for the next generation.
Know that a vote for Biden isn’t the end-all-be-all in the fight for police reform, slowing climate change, LGBTQ+ and women’s rights, immigration and other issues. We as Americans must do more to advocate for these causes even as the White House goes from red to blue.
There’s still work to do, but today, I feel peace.
I feel incredibly proud to see a woman of color as the vice president.
I feel proud that America is beginning to heal.
I feel proud to be an American.