got hope?

Hey, last week’s election was pretty terrifying and scary. I know things will remain unsettling for a very long time.  This is hard for an idealistic/optimistic person like me to admit.

I also feel guilty for starting this post on such a negative note. But really: I’ve never felt so moved to cry over an election before.

I cried. I think I cried like six times last Wednesday. 

However on Tuesday, November 8th, I awoke at 4:47am, not with tears but with a strange jolt of urgency.

I suppose I had election day jitters? <-- that’s also never happened to me before (thank gosh my family lives on the east coast and I had their text messages flowing in to keep me entertained.)

By 6:30am, I put on my “DO BETTER” tee and was out the door by 6:40am, feeling so dang proud to vote for a female president.  I arrived at my neighborhood polls by 6:55 only to get told I was too early. But hey, I was the first one there and I was ready to cast my vote.

My social media feeds were flooding with #imwithher, #thefutureisfemale, #paintsuitnation, and so much positivism for Hillary. I was blasting Beyonce’s “Run the World (Girls)” pretty much non-stop and had felt confident by the end of the day, we’d have our first female president.

I know this is how the story has gone for so many of you.

When I turned on the news at 7:00pm I was shocked to see so many states in red. I was confused. I was fearful. I couldn’t believe it.

And yet, there was a small part of me that could.

That part of me was based on an experience I had last month. On the morning of Yom Kippur, I found a big fat swastika in my neighborhood on my regular route to work. As someone who, at age 7, was completely inspired by Anne Frank to not only write introspectively, but also completely inspired by her ability to find good in the darkest of times, and as someone who has been raised in a conservative Jewish household and still keep the faith, I was shocked and pained.

 My only other association with being discriminated for my religion happened indirectly. It was when I was in 3rd grade and my older brother was in 5th grade. When my brother and I stepped onto our school bus at the end of the day, a 6th grader blurted out, “it smells like the Nazi concentration camp showers back here” when my brother sat down. My mother can still  so vividly recollect how white my brother’s face was when he came home that day, and the repercussions that resulted.

 I know I am incredibly privileged for this being the first time I’ve ever caught wind of this kind of hatred on a personal level. And heck, I know the hate crimes that have been spanning our country are a million times worse than what I experienced. But for me, personally, finding the swastika indicated two things:

1.) It brought to light I live in an incredibly progressive liberal bubble. I forget these things unfortunately happen all the time elsewhere and I’ve been caught up in my bubble to truly believe this stuff still happens.  The world is way more divided than I ever thought was.

2.) It foreshadowed the sense of fear, disgust and uncertainty that so many in our country are now feeling more than ever.

I didn’t tell my family because I knew it would hurt them (and it would just be another reason for them to tell me to move back home).

I didn’t tell anyone initially that day because I didn’t know how to handle it.

I finally came to terms with what I found, and shared my encounter while breaking the fast with the wonderful people whom I call my Santa Cruz Jewish Family.

Three woman who were also breaking the fast, who I’ve only ever interacted with during one other Jewish holiday (and one I was just meeting for the first time) with my Santa Cruz Jewish Family, assured me they’d go home with me and fix it.  I barely knew these women, but they were on my side, and that felt way better than calling the police.

 With a bottle of paint, they came to my neighborhood and painted a big fat heart over the big fat swastika. I then proceeded to pour an entire bottle of glitter over it. They additionally wrote “LOVE LIVES HERE.”

The funny/not-so-funny ironic thing is: later that weekend we had some big downpours.  It rained a lot. So by the end of the weekend, the swastika reemerged….but this time with a heart around it (oy).

 I was already having a rough day and told Will (my partner) about how this reemergence of the swastika, and how it just topped off my very-terrible-no-good-very-bad Monday to the extreme. He came over that night and spray painted an image from one of my favorite artist & optimists, Dallas Clayton (see photo above).

 And so what I learned in this process: I had allies. I had allies I didn’t even know were my allies.

And now more than ever, I feel called to be any ally.  For my POC friends.  For my LGBTQ friends.  For my Muslim friends.  For my immigrant friends. For my homegirls and all women. For all minority groups. For anyone who has ever been oppressed, ignored and mistreated by the ignorance in this world.  I am here and I want to support & celebrate our differences together.

 As cheesy as this sounds: I can never lose Hope because it is my middle name (seriously).  I stand by that and am committed to providing a sense of resilience, strength and compassion during this dark time. I know it’s going to take so much more than just typing it here. I’m ready to rise up, stand up and take action towards the better place I know America can be.

 How am I going to do that? Stay tuned.

(cue: “Everyday People” by Sly & The Family Stone)

emily hope dobkin