Love and Amplification


I went to bed when North Carolina was called. I just couldn’t keep watching. I couldn’t keep seeing red. This can’t be happening. In the pit of my stomach, for whatever reason, that is when I knew. My husband kept watching, was still hopeful, and he didn’t understand why I quietly went upstairs to bed so early in the evening. Now I realize it is because I had already started mourning.

Yesterday morning I woke up sobbing. For everyone in the country and outside it. That deep pain coming out with guttural cries of disbelief. Awake in a nightmare. In a haze. Work? No. Blog something? No. No words. All the words at once. I love everyone so much. I love this country and this amazing woman who has devoted her entire life to its people. He has never changed a diaper. He has never in his life not had millions of dollars. He has never held a public office. He has never been selfless. He is not qualified for the job. Hundreds of thousands more people in this country voted for her and millions more around the globe supported her, but she didn’t win. Gutted. More tears. Devastated.

As I was getting ready to meet my friend for a breakfast date that we’d planned long in advance, I had to walk myself through each routine motion and I had quiet realizations that felt validating and empowering. Put on my shirt. This was made by a woman. Put on my pants. These were designed by a woman. Put on my fragrance. Made by a woman. Put on my earrings. Made by a woman. Necklace. Woman. Put on my coat. Made by a woman. Put on my scarf. Designed by two women. Put on my sunglasses. Designed by a woman. Grab my handbag. Made by a woman. Slip on my shoes. Designed by a woman. Moisturizer. Made by women. Swollen eyes — add a little makeup. Made by women. Dab on lip tint. Made by a woman. Women. I need to keep talking about amazing women. Remember that, self. Don’t disregard this thing you have been passionate about doing. HOLD THEM UP HIGH.

When I got to the restaurant, I still felt in a fog. It’s good to be out and about. Maybe. Early to meet Katy. Everyone looks so uncomfortable. Still feel like this is a bad dream. Looking into the eyes of everyone I walk past as the waitress takes me to an empty table. We all feel the same disbelief and heartbreak. It’s palpable. I sit down. The waitress awkwardly pours some water and looks at me and says, “Hi. How are you today?” I just look at her and tears start pouring out uncontrollably and I whisper, so I don’t scream, “Not OK.” Then she starts crying hard too, so I stand up to hug her for a few minutes. “This isn’t OK. This isn’t OK.” A stranger, but not a stranger. A reflection. A woman who, with her whole heart, wanted better for everyone and still does.

As I talked with and cried with my friend over breakfast, I told her that it was hard to know where to start picking up the pieces after being shattered. Which piece of the puzzle do you even start with? For me, it’s a corner. What I keep coming back to is AMPLIFICATION. Remember that article about Barack Obama’s women White House staffers who use a simple, powerful strategy called “amplification” to make sure their individual voices are heard, repeated, validated, and underscored during important staff meetings and important decisions? If not, read it here.

“When a woman made a key point, other women would repeat it, giving credit to its author. This forced the men in the room to recognize the contribution β€” and denied them the chance to claim the idea as their own.”

I’d like to see Amplification adopted in a bigger way to not only empower women and keep us at the table on all the issues that we’re going to need to fight for, but to really amplify the voices of people of color, the LGBTQ community, non-binary folks, immigrants, Muslims, the disabled, and children. We have to hold each other up. Especially those of us who sit at the table (or have a seat closer to the table) because we are heterosexual and white. As a person with second tier white privilege in this country, I need to be holding the door open, literally and figuratively, for all a lot of people. Hetero white men who wanted a different election outcome especially need to check themselves and their privilege when they wake up every morning. Then they need to make it a priority every day to amplify and credit these voices too. I don’t mean speaking FOR other people (unless you’re expressly asked to) — I mean validating the words and feelings of our most marginalized people and helping to make sure they get a platform and a firm seat at the table. And EVERYONE needs to be talking about the misogyny and racism blatantly and subtly woven into the very fabric of this country.

I don’t know the best way to implement Amplification in a more broad sense, but I do think that the power of us committing to doing it in our own way each day is a good starting point. At your office (I work from home now, but can think of SO MANY situations where I could have spoken up and helped empower my co-workers in the past!), at your dinner table, at your church, in your circle of friends, in the classroom… there are endless situations where the White House staffers’ Amplification method could be implemented. Just think about how it can work for you.

Today I am still in mourning. Today I am going to spend the day with my 7 year old niece. I am going to talk to her about why Hillary is so important and special. I am going to talk to her about how her job right now is to keep learning in and out of the classroom. Today I’m going to talk to her about how important her voice is and how important her vote will be. I’m going to talk to her about some ways she can support the voices of other kids and respectfully use her voice when she feels like her thoughts, opinions, and feelings aren’t being heard. I’m going to talk to her about how her body is hers and hers alone. Today we are going to be making thank you cards to send to Hillary. Today we are eating pink donuts for breakfast and practicing self-care. Tomorrow I will introduce her to more of my friends who are amazing women who own their own small businesses. Today I commit to healing and finding ways to make a difference in my own way. Today I think about all of you and how much I love you and your big hearts. And I think about hugging more strangers. β™₯

Hi. How are you today?


P.S. Please sign this petition for the Electors to do what is right and please support the ACLU.

19 Responses to “Love and Amplification”
  1. Sherri S. says:

    Thank you so much. This is such a wonderful post and so echoes my own experience over the past two days. I too went to bed at 10 p.m. before it was called–as did one of my friends–because I knew how it would end. My husband kept holding out hope. I woke up yesterday having no voice–literally, I could not speak yesterday, some weird stress reaction, I guess.

    As I ran errands, there was stunned silence all around me. At the library, I started crying and a very nice woman asked me if I was OK, and I said, “Not really.” She said, “It’s a dark day, isn’t it?” and gave me a hug.

    I went to the beach, which made me feel better. I wrote a blog post, which made me feel better. I am not at the “love conquers all” state yet–it’s a lovely sentiment and I’m glad it’s helping others cope, but for right now, I’m devastated and angry and frightened. I might get there (I hope I do), but I might not. I will not be silent, though. I will continue to say that it’s NOT ok to hate.

    • Jen McCabe says:

      Yes. Driving home from breakfast yesterday, almost every single person I saw was crying. A 13 year old girl walking her dog, a guy getting on his bike, people walking to work… Every single bus stop had at least one person crying. It’s not OK. I’m not at the love conquers all phase either. I’m at the “there would be no hate crimes without the hate” phase and I’m pretty sure it is where I’ll be staying. And I’m going to be in the “Fuck that” phase for a good while too. Hugs to you, Sherri. Lots of them. πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™

    • sera says:

      Yes, I’m not at the let’s act phase yet. I’m not at the let’s try to understand and woo the angry white women that threw us under the bus. I’m too angry for that. It’s now been 5 days and I’m still having nightmares, not sleeping, unable to speak or process or act. I need to figure out how to channel my anger but… for now. I’m with you.

  2. jen says:

    This is beautiful, Jen, thank you. I was just thinking about you today as I force myself to move on and do things, make things, and feel productive. And thanks for sharing “Amplification” – I didn’t know about that and it’s so f’ing powerful. Surely we can all implement that in our lives. I have been noticing a lot of posts about community the last couple of days. I think more and more people are feeling like maybe they can make progress on a smaller scale and work within their communities for change. Kinda like mini-grassroots efforts. Ugh, I’m still working out so much in my head and my heart, it’s hard to articulate even a small percentage of it. But I have a renewed sense of hope for us, I really do. Sometimes it takes something really shitty to motivate people to do good.

    • Jen McCabe says:

      Thank you, Jen! I am still a bit in disbelief. Day 1 had so many hate crimes in the name of Trump. The President elect is going to court for child rape AND fraud that ruined people’s lives. This just can’t be the person leading our country. I’m so worried for everyone. It’s OK if you aren’t in the getting stuff done place yet – that will come. I’ve been thinking a lot about community too. Love you! Hope to see you soon. πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™

  3. Rachel says:

    Thank you for saying this in such a lovely way. It made me cry again, but since staying up all night on Tuesday crying and worrying, it doesn’t take much.

    I feel like I need to do something, more than just donating money to the progressive causes I care about. There’s another protest in Portland downtown tonight, so my first step is going to that. The last protest I went to was when Bush came to town, and I remember there being a comforting sense of solidarity in protest. I think this is what it feels like to be radicalized to use every non-violent means necessary to stop what is already happening in our country.

    • Jen McCabe says:

      Thank you. I’ve been pulling over to sob. I think I’m still in the “this can’t actually happen” state of mind. I also think the online protests and signing of letters to the electoral college voters is really important. This person is really dangerous to our democracy in a way that has never been seen. So, scream it out in the streets! There is something powerful when every new set of eyes that meets yours is feeling the same way. Big hugs, Rachel! πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™

  4. Alyson says:

    Thank you so, so much for this, Jen.

  5. Lauren says:

    Thank you so much for sharing Jen. The tears have been coming on and off since Tuesday evening. I work with Muslim children, whose families have just immigrated, on Thursdays. Today a three-year-old boy whom I see every week was clinging to my hand all morning, and it just felt like he knew something was different. It was hard and also healing to spend the morning with these precious souls and to remind them that I value them and that I’m proud of them. Hoping that in this small way, I’m changing things for the better.
    Take care. <3

    • Jen McCabe says:

      Oh, Lauren. That breaks my heart. I worry about our Muslim families here so much. Thinking of them and you. Sending lots of love and hugs!! πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™

  6. Angela says:

    I love you, friend ❀️

  7. Kat Simonyi says:

    The one thing I have found solace in since after the election is the wonderful network of support among my friends, family and the wonderful bloggers I read on a daily or weekly basis. I’ve always loved to read yours regularly – it is beautifully put together, full of beautiful ideas and it also brings Portland to life for me. While Portland is not my original hometown it is home now as my mom lives there. Feeling close to it helps me feel closer to her.

    I am optimistic that somehow, some way we will find a way out of the fog. I keep reminding myself the work doesn’t begin in 2020 with the next election – it starts now. So many of our most cherished rights (and some of our nation’s newest rights, like access to healthcare) are endangered. It’s going to be a long road but it looks as if there is an entire village of women and men who are prepared for it.

    Thank you for writing about this.

    • Jen McCabe says:

      Agreed. I’m so glad that you also feel at home in Portland now. It’s a wonderful place for your mom to be. I hope you feel good where you are. Thank you for the kind words about my blog. I’ve been having a hard time seeing peer bloggers with a platform that reaches even more people not addressing this or barely addressing this and going about business as usual. It’s beyond frustrating especially since they mostly reach women and often in a huge age range. It’s not a good message and not empowering anyone. I’m so glad you’re finding solace with your reading list!! Lots of love to you and your momma. πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™πŸ’™

  8. Holly says:

    It’s been a difficult week, but it’s also been so heartening to see the responses from bloggers and creatives I follow. Living in Ohio–even in a large city–there’s obviously not the same solidarity as in Portland. I’m trying to stay civil (would it be immature to refer to him as “President Pussy-Grabber” when speaking to my Republican relatives?), and somehow it helps to know that I’m not crazy for feeling outraged and horrified.

  9. Marlena says:

    I am still in mourning. I haven’t even made it to anger yet. I’m taking it almost day by day. One thing I have been able to do is increase and start monthly donations to important non-profits. I also emailed our principal, mayor, senators, assembly, US representative, and called them, too, to express my concern and urge them to continue to protect the rights of women, children, and those without a voice.

    Even living in a blue city, I am stuck in fear and terror.

  10. sera says:

    Jen, I’ve been thinking about your post all weekend. I still struggle to sleep, and when I do, it’s filled with nightmares. I am switching back and forth between utter sadness and desperate anger. I have been trying to figure out how to include amplification into my life. I don’t have a staff meeting style office job. I was having a conversation with a friend of mine, trying to figure out how to apply it to more, and he worried that by simply amplifying, we may be adding to noise, to the echo chamber that no one listens to. I don’t know what the answer is. But I know that I appreciate your words. I appreciate the ideas, we need to figure out how to continue to empower each other, to amplify each other.
    I wonder how much fear made it impossible to stake a Hillary sign in rural america, and if they would have stayed up, if that would have given a little voice a wormhole into the brains of the uncertain. But I didn’t see any up outside the city limits. I didn’t see the voices resounding out where they needed to be heard. I’m up in blue blue Seattle. I’m in a bubble. And while I’m so glad I’m here because I’m afraid of everywhere else now, I know my voice cannot be heard out there. I’m babbling. I’m searching. I’m hoping for an answer and path forward.
    But thank you for this.

  11. Jenna says:

    This is a beautiful essay, Jen. I can feel your pain. We’re all hurting and this is going to be a very long 4 years. Friendships and being gentle with each other is more important now than ever.