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Welcome Back, America: A Personal Essay About Growth During Political Turmoil BY LILLIE DAVIDSON

December 15 2020 | Personal Essay/Op-Ed

Four days into the election that had the world on tenterhooks, the final call came down from almost every major US media organization: Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. was going to be the 46th president. Celebrations erupted in the streets of every major city in America, and some abroad as well. Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, France, tweeted: “Welcome back, America.” And meanwhile, after almost a week of being glued to the news networks, I was asleep in my bedroom in Texas.

When I woke up, though, I wasn’t just waking up from a night’s rest. I was waking up from a long national nightmare, one that at times hit too close to home, and definitely too close for comfort. You see, four years ago that night, I was a crumpled, sobbing, broken mess on my bedroom floor. I had exhausted an entire box of tissues and resorted to wiping my face with a bath towel as it became apparent that Clinton would not win. My future never felt as uncertain as it did then.

I gave it a month. Then, I got up. I got mad. I stopped wasting time on tears. I started writing about my fears regarding the Trump administration through spoken word poetry. Eventually, I realized that many other people felt the same way I did. With that, I started organizing. I lent my voice to my school’s March for Our Lives walkout in 2018. Later that year, I got a job as a staff writer for a brand new magazine (you guessed it! RevNow), despite never having written an article before in my life. I helped grow RevNow and eventually became a senior reporter & social media manager.

My first press engagement, early on in the 2020 race. This night felt more like a celebration than a work experience!

Then, I found a poll worker application on the county elections department website. I filled it out, trained, and went to work at the polls, because, by God, I was going to have a place in this democracy. I fought tooth and nail to win an interview with Rep. Beto O’Rourke, and later Major MJ Hegar. Then, I launched my own news site. I never gave up on the idea that my one voice, no matter how small, or how young, could make a difference in this world.

On November 3rd, I got up at 3:30 in the morning, downed a gas station coffee, drove two cities over, and set to work for the next 17 hours. I translated ballots into Spanish for brand new US citizens who couldn’t read in English but knew how important it was to vote. I handed out ‘I Voted’ stickers and verified countless drivers’ licenses. At the end of the day, I tabulated the totals for my polling location and shut off the machines. Then, I went home and cried, partly because I was exhausted, and partly because I had finally done everything in my power to get others to vote, and to ensure a free and fair election.

With Biden becoming the official president-elect last night, and the myriad of lawsuits pushed by the Trump administration proving to be invalid, I finally took a minute to breathe: to revel in the fact that an educated, qualified Black woman is going to be vice president and that a kind and accomplished man, Joe Biden, is going to be our president. However, the work is far from done. It does not end on January 20th, 2021, when Biden and Harris take the oath. Yes, that day will make this work easier, but after that? It’s still up to us. Trump’s presidency might have been my catalyst, but this is only the beginning of my (and the rest of Gen Z’s) involvement in the political sphere, because it is our democracy to keep, and ours to maintain.

- Lillie Davidson

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