November 9, 2016

We Don’t Know What’s Coming; We Do Know Who We Are

A Post-Election Statement from the Center for New York City Affairs

UM 43 (Post Election) No Title2-01.png

Distress; frustration; apprehension; anger: Those were among the intense post-election post-mortem emotions unpacked during a staff meeting in the offices of the Center for New York City Affairs this morning. A mother struggling with her own sleep-deprived anxieties described trying to explain the election results to her school-bound youngsters.  A graduate student recalled suddenly welling up with tears in her morning commute subway car when another passenger broke into a spiritually reassuring gospel song.  Another expressed still-smoldering indignation about the slurs and threats he and other Muslim Americans had endured during the election campaign, and foreboding about what might come next.

That the election results prompted such powerful reactions is hardly surprising. After all, the values that bring us all to the Center – our attraction to the diversity and dynamism of city life and our devotion to creating urban communities of justice, achievement, and dignity – received a rough Election Night ride. In state after state, we watched big-city votes get overwhelmed by returns from rural and small-town counties of far less diverse racial and ethnic composition.  Dismayingly, the Presidential candidate who handily carried urban areas from coast to coast and, it appears, in the process narrowly won the national popular vote, still came out the unexpected loser.

How we move on, individually and collectively, from this disappointing day is a task that will take days and weeks of thought and discussion. It’s far too soon to know what that path forward will look like. We recognize all too well that while an election campaign marred by insults and slights directed at so many of us has now thankfully concluded, the foul anti-immigrant, racist, and misogynist spirits it unleashed may be with us for quite some time to come.     

Much of what will happen next is uncertain. But as one of us put it during our staff meeting, “We don’t know what’s coming, but we do know who we are.” And only by remaining true to ourselves and our mission will the next steps we must take emerge. So we remain today, more strongly than ever, committed to: promoting racial equality and diversity in our public schools; giving outlets to immigrant voices; listening to people from across the political spectrum; and working with policy makers and grassroots community leaders to make our city more just and humane for all its people. 

We also know this: That despair is not a strategy, and that hope must be – hope that is not naïve, but that is clear-eyed and brave.

Photo Credit: TrevorLowe