Part of me wanted to celebrate Joe Biden’s inauguration like I won the World Cup. The previous presidential administration was a dark cloud that shrouded the end of my time in college, throughout my two years in grad school, and the beginning phase of my post school life. That itself has been a turbulent period with moving from the San Francisco Bay Area to San Diego, navigating a long distance relationship, job searching and researching among other events. It’s ok to celebrate, but soon you must go back to the drawing board because the next challenge is always right around the corner. The United States is in that position right now at the beginning of the Biden/Harris Era, and after gathering my thoughts in the past 24 hours, I hope my reaction in this article can help put your thoughts into words too.
We feel a mix of emotions during any major transition in our lives. Whether it be within our personal journeys or how we react to a greater event, we rarely feel just one thing. Around now, you may be feeling emotions such as relief, uncertainty, hope, skepticism, and empowerment to name a few. Above anything else though, we should put it in its proper context in order to make the most of this transition.
The eight years under Barack Obama as president were bandaids over systemic issues and fractures in society. Those cracks were exploited when Trump took over, but that neither caused nor reintroduced racism, chaos, and hate into our lives. These issues have existed long before him. Those of us with any form of privilege, be it racial, class, gender, sexuality, or so forth were shielded from it for so long. Joe Biden is the new walking bandaid. He was able to progress ahead of the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in this election process because of his persona as the most “electable” and moderate (in other words, boring and inoffensive) candidate on the Democratic side. The goal was to take out Trump. Congratulations, mission accomplished. Now what?
Now that he takes Trump’s place in the Oval Office, a sense of order has been restored. Unfortunately though part of that order has maintained a societal sphere that has been covertly oppressive of many minority groups.
We still have a lot of work to do.
Do not view this transition in power from a tyrant to a “normal president” as the end of an era. The transition from Trump to Biden will not fix problems overnight. We are still a broken and divided nation. The closeness of the 2020 Presidential Election as well as the actions of violent people in Washington D.C. on January 6 indicated that millions of Americans are content with “Making America Great Again”. But great for who exactly? They only seek to make it great for themselves, maybe also those who will either agree with them or bend to their will. Their staunch behavior forced our hands to be even more oppositional to their stances, as we continue to burn bridges with those we disagree with on topics that should not be controversial. Topics such as who is deserving of what amount of money, the ability to marry, and how police officers should conduct themselves. These are not up for debate.
During this pandemic, many of us want nothing more than for things to return to normal as soon as possible. Be careful what you wish for. Normal may work for many of us, but normal has included problematic societal forms that need to be shifted out.
What can we do?
Stay informed, while being aware of the sources we use for information. Research and cross reference between multiple sources.
Talk to friends, family, partners, colleagues, and coworkers.
Donate to charities and causes that are prepared to make a positive difference today.
Volunteer (when you feel comfortable, given the pandemic).
Listen to others.
Respect opinions (excluding those based in hatred) and present yours respectfully.
Elevate underrepresented voices whenever possible.
Inclusivity, intersectionality, reflection, and reassessments.
Self improvement is key for improving a greater sphere.
As we begin the tenure of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, this is where we continue to work hard, if not harder, to make the future we want a reality. I embrace this challenge and I look forward to being a part of this process of making our communities a better place for all to live peacefully and pursue their dreams with happiness and success.