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I’d like to share my thoughts about the election.

It’s 9:00 a.m. on election day 2016, so clearly I’m writing this before any results are in.  This blog post isn’t about the candidates or control of the Senate or what happens next.  It’s about you, my coworkers at Greenlining—the most incredible group of folks that I’ve ever worked with.

My perspective on the world was – like everyone – formed by my family, my faith, my education, and my experiences.  Those factors shaped me into a person who is passionate about justice and equity, angry enough to want to do something about it and too stubborn to give up.

As I made my way through life, I understood that I live in a country that was built on the backs of people that folks that looked like me thought of as subhuman.  I understood that American history cheated people of color, LGBT people, and oh so many others out of the opportunities that were rightfully theirs.  And I understood how important it was to participate in the democratic process—no matter how minor the political office or small the issue—in order to create meaningful change.

Or so I thought.

During my professional career, I worked at jobs where my coworkers shared my social justice views, if not my desire to work for change.  We’d stand around the figurative water cooler and talk about the failures of the criminal justice system, the mortgage crisis, poverty, and walk away feeling like good people.  And then, through what I can only describe as providence, I got hired at Greenlining, where, for the first time in my life, there were more people of color than white people; where not all of you went from a cozy suburb to a cozy college to a cozy career; where many of you didn’t just read about discrimination, institutional racism, and stolen economic opportunity, but lived it.

For the past five years, you have been kind and generous enough to share your stories with me–stories of struggle and success, stories of discrimination and acceptance, stories of hope and fear.  Stories about an America where you feel unwelcome, and stories about an America that is your community and your home.  I can’t even begin to describe how those stories have transformed me as a person.  Your stories have made the pain and discouragement of inequality, inequity, and injustice real to me.

I’m by no means so arrogant or privileged that I think I can ever fully understand how it feels to be a person of color in America—to paraphrase Langston Hughes, what I put on this page will be white.  And even though I have more to learn, I like to think that that I understand enough—enough to realize that the election isn’t about abstract policy—it’s about how this country’s actions after November 8 will affect our communities, families, and individuals.

Thanks to our work at Greenlining, and the good fortune to work with all of you, I feel fully justified in calling myself a patriot.

Because of you, this is the most important election I’ve ever participated in.

Oh, and if you haven’t voted yet, get out there and do it.