Fragile Like a Razor Blade


When I was a child, my dad had one of those old-fashioned shaving razors where, to change the blade, you twisted the handle and two safety-brackets swiveled up to release the paper-thin, wickedly sharp blade. Sometimes, I would play with it, marveling at how something so thin and perfectly flexible could be so destructive when handled wrong or carelessly.

This week has been devastating in ways I never fathomed feeling as an American. There will be treatises and thesis written by people much smarter than me on what went wrong, and I cannot even begin to dig myself out yet from the avalanche- I don’t think anyone can see clearly yet what has been wrought. I have never been a doomsday predictor, nor a fan of apocalyptical thinking. As many have already said, this isn’t just that the candidate I favored lost- that’s happened to me many times. I have lived fairly and peacefully under presidents and congresses with whom I disagreed and under whose policies I protested. This however, feels different. Not just different in magnitude, but categorically.

I’m not going to wade into the weeds and I absolutely am not interested in argument. What I am doing is recording for my children where their mother stands. I see now that believing voting was enough was wrong. I see now that blind faith in the arc of justice being fair and finding its own way was wrong. I see now that complacency in my own comfortable life was wrong. I see now that the racism from which I was protected by the accident of my birth is an actual, real danger to my brothers and sisters. I see now that post-racial is a myth. I see now that I must not assume anything, but must purposely pop the bubble around myself and move into the world with purpose.

A black friend said to me, “You’re so surprised. We are not. We knew this.” and I realize how I and my other feminist friends have failed utterly to listen. Listen, listen, listen. My friend comforted me in my sorrow and fear- feelings with which she is far more familiar and acquainted than me, and I apologized. She told me it was not necessary to apologize, but to stand up, speak up, move forward with faith. This is dance she has been mastering the steps of for generations, and we would do well to pay attention to her voice, and the voices of all those who knew. Listen listen listen. And then move forward.

The ideas that constitute the American experiment are some of the finest 0f inspired human directives- e pluribus unum, liberty, justice and freedom for all in a pluralistic society. We’ve not moved in a straight line towards those goals, not ever- but the beliefs holding those ideals up have been our guiding principles for 240 years. We’ve failed before. We’ve hurt ourselves before, and we’ve healed. We’ve cut ourselves now pretty badly on the razor’s edge of our experiment, but we’re not broken. We just forgot how sharp the edges were in our complacency.

As best you can, bandage your wounds, roll up your sleeves. I will help. Lets get to work. I’ll be there with you.