Three days after the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States I spent a weekend with a group of professionals seeking to learn more about writing. The atmosphere was one where many in attendance felt traumatized and unsure about how to stay the politically progressive course. Everything so to speak, ended up on the table, our fears, disappointment, and we allowed ourselves to envision and try to understand the motivation of those who supported Donald Trump even as we recommitted to our very different political vision. I shared with the group that I had begun actively trying to channel “my inner Frederick Douglass and Ida B. Wells.” How I wondered, did the great abolitionist and reformer who was born, enslaved, successfully claimed his personal freedom and was a towering figure of the 19th century survive the struggles, the gains, the losses and the knowledge that freedom could be both won and lost and stay committed year after year to his progressive almost revolutionary goals? And how did Ida B. Wells, journalist, anti-lynching activist, one of the founders of the NAACP keep her eye on the prize when she saw family, friends, literally give their lives for freedom and equality and remain convinced that she was in the right place doing the right things even as she lived to see segregation become the law of the land and lynchings continue unabated?
At times as I processed the election results I literally felt the spiritual energy of these two brave, blessed spirits. They “told” me to remain focused, avoid distractions and to be clear in and about my “purpose.” The hard won emotional resilience African Americans have had to develop is my springboard and my mantra is the one Douglass left us as wisdom as we work to preserve and encourage justice. “Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!”
So I’m staying focused on the daily task of becoming “truly human”, and writing, teaching and lecturing as manifestations of my mission to connect to and inspire community.
How are you staying focused and what are you focused on?