On January 20, 2021, Joe Biden transitioned from President-Elect to the United States President. While the capital was still on high alert from the insurrection on January 6, I listened to President Joe Biden’s inaugural address and the incorporation of unity. The idea, to me, seemed like a no brainer. The United States, in the last four years, was divided by controversial topics about race, politics, and values undermined and devalued because of Donald Trump’s unprofessional actions and disturbing antics. Unity was something that we all needed, and yet the concept seems so distant because of the pandemic and the scars left by the Trump administration.
The day after the inauguration, I was walking my aunt’s dog and came across an older gentleman. As I was making sure that he (My aunt’s dog) was not trying to run into the street, we engaged in conversation. Sadly, because of COVID-19, I could not exchange in any normalcy with people I used to see when I was walking the dog around the neighborhood. Casual conversations with others walking their dogs or just hanging out in the area felt so distant, and I thought that the reason for such caution was due to the apparent confusion brought about in handling this pandemic. People were scared, others were dying, and it didn’t seem like life was ever going to be the same. Systemic racism was abundant, police brutality was unchecked, and the government showed no signs of fixing the cracking mirror known as America.
While we casually continued to talk about the day and how windy it had been, since conversations with strangers can go in a myriad of ways, he gave me a strange, almost, a cautious look as he said, “So, what do you think will happen now?” At that moment, what could’ve been awkward had felt like a relief. I may not have known this man and his struggles during this pandemic, but the moment he felt comfortable enough to talk about the country’s state made me realize just how vital President Biden’s words were to the people. He wasn’t vulnerable for talking about politics or breaking the status quo of ruining the mood but showed strength in asking the questions that mattered without facing social repercussions.
To overcome these challenges — to restore the soul and to secure the future of America — requires more than words. It requires that most elusive of things in a democracy: Unity.46th President: Joe R. Biden
As he waited for his steak burrito while I was handling an overly excited bichon frise, we talked about the state of the country. The country’s economic repair, the damage on Capitol Hill, and what that means for the people were some of the many subjects in our discussion. As a Latino American, he told me stories of how others looked at him on the streets and how Trump supporters reciprocated his family since Trump had been in office, spouting about the threats of Mexicans being within the United States. I hung on to every word he told me because not only was it essential to hear, but it confirmed just how much hate and malice continued to exist within our country. As an African American, I’m no stranger to racism; however, I believe that no one deserves to experience unbridled and unjustified hate the way that this man told me about his last four years while Trump was in office. He continued to explain that when COVID-19 occurred, it almost felt as if the blame of being “the bad guy” was shifting from one race to the next, and while it wasn’t any better for his family, he confided in me that, “this country has a lot of cracks and a lot of holes. Whenever something new happens, they just paint over it and hope that the paint will fill in the cracks. Trump was the biggest crack of them all, and I don’t know if we’ll fix it because everyone’s ‘America’ ain’t the same.”
America’s definition and what it means to be American continues to be an open-ended question with no answer in sight. It continues to be controversial for those that lived in this country for years. The threat of being denounced as an American, or not being American enough, has divided the country like a canyon. Furthermore, as the canyon grows more in-depth from the erosion of institutional racism, right-wing insurrectionists, and the corruption of the democracy, the importance of unity in Joe Biden’s words ring clearer.
Today, on this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together. Uniting our people .And uniting our nation. I ask every American to join me in this cause.
Uniting to fight the common foes we face: Anger, resentment, hatred. Extremism, lawlessness, violence. Disease, joblessness, hopelessness. With unity we can do great things. Important things. We can right wrongs. We can put people to work in good jobs.
We can teach our children in safe schools. We can overcome this deadly virus. We can reward work, rebuild the middle class, and make health care secure for all. We can deliver racial justice. We can make America, once again, the leading force for good in the world.
I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new.46th President: Joe R. Biden
To me, unity is not a foolish fantasy. Unity comes from trust, understanding one another, agreement, and the idea that all people are equal. While the Biden administration tries to create harmony with unity, it’s important to remember that “Unity can not be legislated.” The definition of unity is “the state of being united or joined as a whole.” At the same time, legislations are a step in the right direction; although, they are not the final say in what creates unity. The country must learn to understand everything that’s occurred within it and promote change to the things that have long been ignored to establish unity. Whether it’s from the accounts of institutionalized racism in the last century or the continuing strains of racist/sexist/conservative standards in this century, the collection of unity that Biden speaks of will not be easy to obtain.
As our President, Joe Biden has declared that he will fight for us and help us repair, restore, heal, build, and gain much more as the President of the United States. As the people, we can only hope for so much, so now, let us hope that we can unite and proudly show that our flag, which still stands there, represents something real for our future.