Society

Dunham Asks US To Organize, Not Agonize, After Election

| by Sam Gravity

In a powerful essay posted online, producer and actress Lena Dunham reflected on her time working with the Hillary Clinton campaign and encouraged Americans come together in the fight for civil rights.

Dunham’s Lenny Newsletter, titled with civil rights activist Florynce Kennedy’s quote, “Don’t Agonize, Organize,” reflected on the activist’s own experience with the Democratic campaign and discussed the election’s ramifications for minority groups across America.

Despite months of harassment from conservative internet users, Dunham was convinced Clinton would win the 2016 election, writing she woke up on Election Day “like a bride: rosy, thrilled, a little controlling about just how MY perfect day would be spent.”

“As horrifying as I found Donald Trump's rhetoric ... I never truly believed he could win.” Dunham wrote, reflecting she was already planning how she would reminisce about Clinton’s victory to her unborn children.

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But when the election results were announced to Clinton's campaign members at New York City’s Javitz Center on Nov. 8, Dunham’s “rosy” cheeks were quickly stained with tears.

“At a certain point it became clear something had gone horribly wrong,” she wrote. “Celebrants' faces turned. The modeling had been incorrect. Watching the numbers in Florida, I touched my face and realized I was crying.”

What followed was a jarring depiction of America’s state of affairs: A divided country still dominated by a largely white, male, conservative mindset.

“It is painful on a cellular level knowing those men got what they wanted,” she wrote. “It's painful to know that white women ... so unable to look past their violent privilege, and so inoculated with hate for themselves, showed up to the polls for him, too.”

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Dunham also identified her own “violent privilege” in her review of Election Day events, stating it was “a privilege to be heartbroken by the system for the first time at age 30.”

She continued in her essay by discussing those she felt had lost the most:

So many people -- those in the prison system, those with undocumented American relatives, those who are trans, who are queer, who are people of color, who are Muslim, who are trying to prosecute their abusers -- have felt the crushing failure of the system over and over again.

Now, more than ever, our power is in numbers … We will all have to use the tools we have to speak for ourselves, but moreover speak for the voiceless, the people who can't demand change for fear of very real and violent losses.

Dunham ended her remarks on this call to action, saying “it should not be the job of women, of people of color, of queer and trans Americans, to understand who does not consider them human and why” and instead it is the job of Americans with privilege to lift the voices of oppressed people negatively impacted by a Trump presidency.

In closing comments, Dunham thanked Clinton for her 30 years of service, and inspiring women and underprivileged parties to rise to the occasion.

The disheartened supporter went on to quote Clinton’s own sentiments on resistance, saying, "Dignity does not come from avenging insults, especially from violence that can never be justified. It comes from taking responsibility and advancing our common humanity."

In an Instagram post on Nov. 11, Dunham took on a more optimistic approach for civil rights battles to come, depicting an image from Dr. Seuss’ “Oh The Places You’ll Go” alongside comments that she would not leave the country in America’s time of crisis.

“I can't wait for ... the change to come, as we use what we've been given to protect those who can't protect themselves,” she wrote. “What are you living for?”

Sources: Lenny Letter, Instagram / Photo credit: Abigail Gray Swartz/Lenny Letter

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