Lena Dunham's Post-Election Essay Is An Important Reminder That The Work Has Just Begun
Lena Dunham woke up on the morning of the election like a bride. She described being "rosy, thrilled," and a "little controlling" about what she — like many of us — believed was going to be our big day in American politics. Hillary Clinton was presumably going to become the first female president and we were ready to watch in awe as the the glass ceiling broke above our heads. Instead, those of us believing in a win from Clinton looked on in awe as our world slowly started to change colors and the glass ceiling remained intact. She didn't win. We didn't win. It was over, right? Not so fast. In Dunham's post-election essay shared on Lenny Letter on Friday, the prolific star and creator of Girls has implored us to think otherwise.
Dunham's Lenny essay, "Don't Agonize, Organize," takes its title from a quote by Florynce Kennedy, the civil rights activist, feminist, and lecturer. It's a pertinent message — "Don't Agonize, Organize" — even though the election can't exactly be reduced to those three words. There's no dearth of agony in Dunham's letter, and there's certainly no shortage of it in our own disappointment right now, but we don't have to believe that these feelings will subsume us. We don't have to live in a state of doubt, confusion, fear, anger, or anything else that for us falls under the umbrella of pain for the next four years. As Americans, we have something else at our disposal — the ability to act. Dunham wrote, "We've been radicalized and therefore we've been deputized to do our parts."
"What that means will become clearer over the coming months," she continued. "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. Those who are gagged by the system Donald Trump proposes."
Our capacity to stand up for ourselves and others isn't something that can be taken away, or quieted, or drowned out, regardless of the boom in our future president's voice. Clinton's unity anthem — "stronger together" — doesn't have to end because she didn't take office. Those foundations have already been built. Dunham noted, "The work of this election, the promise of Bernie Sanders's and Hillary Clinton's campaigns, the dream of changing the face of the White House, is only just beginning."
Following the letter, Dunham posted a similar sentiment on her Instagram account, a space where she has continued to be bravely, unabashedly political. She said, "I can't wait for all of of this, and for the change to come, as we use what we've been given to protect those who can't protect themselves."
While some of us are rightfully fearful, Dunham concluded the letter with a reminder that we do not have to let that fear rule us. "So no, the work isn't done. It is only beginning. We will stun ourselves with what we are capable of," she wrote." We will laugh with surprise like kids who finally threw a punch back at the schoolyard bully. We will watch our friends in awe as they step forward and demand more, as they recognize and wield their politicized identities. We will not be governed by fear."
Now the job's on us. So stun yourself and others with your capability to fight back. Organize. Wake up tomorrow — or today — and see this as only the beginning. Get to work. Organize. Be "rosy" and "thrilled" again. Make this your new reality. Organize. And one more time for good measure: Organize.