Happy new year.
This piece was originally posted on December 31 2016 - but still feels incredibly applicable to this new year.
It's December 31st, and for the first time in my entire life, I cannot bring myself to utter the words "happy new year" with any kind of sincerity.
This has been a hard year.
All over social media this week, I saw friends, family and acquaintances making end-of-year summaries, many of them even admitting, with varying degrees of guilt, that despite its stresses, 2016 had actually been pretty good for them. I will even concede that although this year came with a great deal of stress, things happened for me that were worth the hassle and will lead to good things in the long run. I changed not just jobs but careers, leaving higher education behind after over a decade and diving into the deepest end of the non-profit healthcare and reproductive rights world with little more than my own convictions to get me through the massive learning curve ahead.
But I don't feel like celebrating my year, because it was only decent for me because I'm white. And this is the year we all found out (at least, those of us who were awake enough to see and admit it) that racism is alive and well in our country, in the world, and in us all. We didn't change anything by electing a black president; we only stoked the fires of fear and hate that burn deep in the hearts of our family members, our neighbors, our coworkers, our friends.
It was also the year we women were put squarely and firmly in our place. No, you can't do anything a man can do. No, you can't make your own decisions. No, you can't have too much power. No, you can't be loud, or opinionated, or imperfect, or right. No, you can't be president.
It was the year we found out that rumors about a woman were more potent and powerful than terrifying facts about a man. It was the year we decided sexual assault and rape aren't a big deal. It was the year we caved to fear and greed, the year we eschewed responsibility for fixing our dying planet. It was the year we decided the truth didn't matter anymore.
I have needed, wanted and expected to write about the past year, the past few months. I couldn't bring myself to do it. Week after week went by, and I watched as the world around me got uglier, scarier, less safe. Maybe it never was safe.
In just a few weeks, the president I've most admired in my lifetime will leave office (and boy, does he ever deserve a break), and the president I'm convinced will be the worst in a century will take the reigns. If his performance is anything like his preparation, we are fucked at best and doomed at worst.
This is not going to be a happy new year. This is going to be a knife fight. And if you don't think so, if you don't know just how high the stakes are, well, then you're honestly part of the problem, and I don't have anything else to say, no words of wisdom. You'll have to figure it out the hard way, which will be when something bad happens to you personally, or to someone you love.
Meanwhile, the rest of us are preparing for battle. I don't know any other way to put it. I've joked with people (only half joking, really) that it feels like we're all at Helm's Deep just waiting for Saruman's army to pummel us, hoping to God that Gandalf shows up to save us. Except, I don't know who Gandalf is in this scenario, and I don't believe in God. I don't know who will help us, other than us. I don't know how this story is going to play out, let alone end. I just know that it's going to be bloody, and it won't end until white people start to feel the pain. And men. White men. When their suffering begins, everyone else's will begin to end.
I'm not making any resolutions. My only job this year is to listen. I'm going to listen to my loved ones of color, my loved ones in the LGBT community. I'm going to support their needs. I'm going to fight. I'm going to do whatever I have to do in my personal life to enable that fight - if that means going to the gym more or losing weight or taking some down time to rejuvenate (which is a privilege beyond reason in this world), so be it. But resolutions are for people who have space to worry about themselves above others. None of us can afford that right now. My resolutions are on hold. My resolve is to fight.
I'm going out for drinks in a few hours, but it's not a celebration. I'm not celebrating the end of 2016, because 2017 is going to be harder. 2016 took away our faith and a great many beloved celebrities. 2017 is poised to take so much more.
We cannot let it.
I won't say happy new year, and I won't apologize for being dire. For now, I'll simply say, good night, and good luck.