Favorite

Still wearing white 

On election night, after a long afternoon of poll-watching, I rushed home to change into my white pantsuit with the rhinestone "HRC" on the back and headed out to my local election party. As the night went on, I started to feel silly and embarrassed by my outfit. I went home and went to bed before the election was called for Donald Trump. The next morning, I wondered, as many parents did, how to explain to my daughters that the "mean guy" won. The rest of my week was spent in alternating states of shock and grief and anger. Many of my friends who wore so much white as a tribute to the suffragettes now swore to wear only black for the next four years to mourn the loss of the America we so desperately wanted. I initially agreed, but on Sunday morning, as I got ready for church, I reached past my dark winter clothes and put on one of the white blazers I had worn so proudly since seeing Hillary Clinton in her white suit at the Democratic National Convention. In the car, I second-guessed my outfit and hoped others would think I was just wearing "winter white," but when I caught my reflection in the glass church door, I stopped. I was proud to see myself in my uniform of justice and equality even in the face of such a loss, even if the material was too lightweight for the cool weather.

We lost and it was tough. We thought change was going to come from the top down. We thought issues such as childcare reform, parental leave, education funding and mental health treatment would all be at the top of the list of policies from our new president. Instead we elected a man who has promised deportations, wall building and a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe and Obergefell. While Trump has eased his rhetoric some since the election, his picks for advisers and staff point to continued divisiveness and rollbacks of the rights of many Americans.

There were big wins for women in Illinois, Nevada and California, but these victories seem a long way from Arkansas, where the movement backward has already begun. Where does that leave us? It leaves us with much work to do. We must call out oppression and racism and never be silent in the face of authoritarianism on a national level. But we must shift our focus. We must keep our eyes and ears open here at home. We cannot be so preoccupied with mourning and protesting that we allow a primarily white, primarily male, primarily GOP state government to further cut money for special needs therapy for children, to pass discriminatory laws in the name of religious freedom and to restructure ARKids First and Medicaid in a way that limits coverage. Big tax cuts are coming for the rich and, unless we speak out, they will come on the backs of children and the poor.

We must ensure our voices are heard in local government by attending city council meetings, quorum court meetings and the meet-and-greets some of our legislators hold from time to time. We must run for office, even if we expect to lose, because an opponent ensures an incumbent must clarify his or her position on the issues and answer for his or her past votes. We learned the hard way during this election that the forces working to move us backward yell the loudest, and, unless we speak out strong and speak out together, they will drown us out.

For those who are mourning and choose to wear black, I feel you. I'm with you. But I'm also still with her and with all who fight for love and light and equal rights for everyone. Because we are still the daughters of Susan and Sojourner and Elizabeth and Victoria and Geraldine and Hillary. We still fight to bring justice and hope to our country and our state. A million voices may not make a huge impact on a national level, but a hundred voices on a local level can. So, I'll see you at city hall. I'll see you at the county courthouse. I'll see you at the Capitol. I'll be the one still wearing white.

Autumn Tolbert is a lawyer in Fayetteville.

Favorite

Speaking of Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump

Comments (7)

Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-7 of 7

Add a comment

More by Autumn Tolbert

  • A heart in this house

    Since Election Day, I have been at a loss as to how to direct my energy. I am spinning in circles.
    • Jan 19, 2017
  • Stay the course

    I am frustrated and angry with those who claim the only chance of future success is for the Democratic Party, especially in the South and Midwest, to abandon speaking directly to women and people of color and the LGBT community and instead focus on the economy and other "more comfortable" topics in order to win back some of the center.
    • Dec 8, 2016
  • Conservatives don't own moral high ground

    I once heard that the only things necessary to succeed in Arkansas politics were a high school diploma and a certificate from a six-week preaching course. That joke is not so funny now that we are firmly entrenched in a period marked by style over substance and appearance over works.
    • Nov 3, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Arkansas condones child abuse?

    If Harrises and Duggars go unpunished, yes.
    • Jun 4, 2015
  • Must address racial inequities

    We mourn for the families of the dead at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. As we grieve it's time to rekindle a conversation about race in America and press for the changes that the Emanuel congregation championed for centuries — changes that also made it a target.
    • Jun 25, 2015
  • Racism is systemic

    In a speech on Sunday at Bethel A.M.E. Church, Gov. Asa Hutchinson played directly into the narrative of respectability politics, where white people tell people of color how they should respond to a situation and condemn responses from others in the community experiencing anger, rage and other expressions of grief.
    • Jun 25, 2015

Most Shared

  • Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be deputy White House press secretary

    Donald Trump announced additional White House staff today, notably including Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy assistant to the president and principal deputy press secretary.
  • Legislation filed for $10 million school voucher program

    The legislation to vastly expand transfer of state tax dollars to private schools came before the school choice day event I mentioned earlier.
  • Watch the trailer for 'Shelter,' the Renaud Bros. new doc on homeless kids in New Orleans

    Check out the trailer for "Shelter," the Renaud Bros. new feature-length documentary about homeless teens navigating life on the streets of New Orleans with the help of Covenant House, the longstanding French Quarter shelter for homeless kids.
  • Trumpeting

    When President-elect Trump announced he would, in a few days, force Congress to enact comprehensive health insurance for everyone, poor or rich, that would provide better and cheaper care than they've ever gotten, you had to wonder whether this guy is a miracle worker or a fool.
  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Latest in Guest Writer

  • A better now

    The Boys and Men Opportunity Success Team (BMOST), an initiative led by a coalition of local stakeholders that includes the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, city of Little Rock, Arkansas Baptist College, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Pulaski Technical College and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Arkansas, is determined to show you that what you see and hear about black and brown boys and men isn't the whole story.
    • Jan 12, 2017
  • Intro to ANNN

    The Arkansas Nonprofit News Network is an independent, nonpartisan news project dedicated to producing journalism that matters to Arkansans.
    • Dec 22, 2016
  • Help all veterans

    Veteran-specific bills often miss the mark on helping the most sympathetic military families by focusing on retirement income.
    • Dec 22, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

1.73-carat diamond found at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Jack Pearadin and Doug Nelsen found a 1.73-carat diamond after nearly a year of searching the park's field.

Event Calendar

« »

January

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Putin and Trump

    Here's a thought exercise: What do you suppose would happen if Russian strongman Vladimir Putin decided to clarify remarks he reportedly made about Donald Trump during the election campaign?

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • Mr. G., I know you try - and I have commended you for it -…

    • on January 22, 2017
  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • The funniest thing about all this is that Lyons never said that Russia invaded anyone…

    • on January 22, 2017
  • Re: Putin and Trump

    • Really? That's your argument? The Russians and the Soviets are two different things? That's pretty…

    • on January 22, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation