Editor’s Note: The country may have elected Joe, but there is still a long way to go

By Mari Devereaux, Co-Editor-in-Chief

When President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris emerged from election week victorious, there was an outburst of emotion around the country.

Overwhelmingly, Biden supporters took to the streets to celebrate when the results were announced on Nov. 7—dancing, singing, banging pots and pans and cheering with an energy reminiscent of former President Barack Obama’s election win in 2008.

In Chicago, thousands gathered with flags and signs to show support for Biden, as reported by the Chronicle Nov. 9.

While the joy was widespread among Democratic voters, many also understood that this victory was only the first step toward real change.

As activists and those involved in politics know, the work involved in advocating for and creating policies is a year-round process that involves ongoing engagement including being media aware and savvy, communicating with your neighbors—even those who don’t agree with you—and constantly educating oneself through history and literature.

Biden and Harris winning the election does not mean issues surrounding climate change, systemic oppression, student loans, income inequality and the COVID-19 pandemic will automatically dissolve. Nor does it mean that everyone who voted against their campaign will suddenly become supportive of the programs and initiatives they plan to implement.

As it stands, the country is still as divided as it was four years ago. In her Washington Post opinion piece, Deputy Editorial Page Editor Ruth Marcus points out that winning may be the easy part for Biden, who will inherit a “Trump-enhanced Supreme Court,” 71 million Americans who voted for President Donald Trump and possibly a Republican-controlled Senate, depending on the outcome of Georgia runoffs.

No matter who you voted for, your civic and moral involvement in the matters that determined your vote do not end when a president is elected.

Even though the next four years will be inevitably different under a new presidential administration, as a nation, we will still be grappling with many of the same fights as we have in the last four years.

There will still be protests against police brutality, petitions for affordable healthcare, informational seminars on criminal justice reform, advocates calling for better foreign policy and people calling on their representatives to help overhaul our country’s flawed immigration system.

As Tanya Watkins, executive director of Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation, said in recent Chronicle coverage of the election, the Democratic Party has a long way to go to be truly inclusive and representative of BIPOC communities.

“We have to ensure that no matter who is elected to represent this country, that person is held accountable to us,” she said. “So Uncle Joe, we’ll see you in the streets.”

It is okay for people to take a moment to breathe and celebrate a candidate’s victory, as long as they do not become too complacent or comfortable.

Many are calling for healing in this country, but this will require all of us to put in the hard work needed to get to a place of unity and acceptance.

Through advocating for those around us and engaging in difficult conversations meant to educate, we may be able to grow collectively stronger, rather than two sects separated by political ideologies.

This is not about making America great again or romanticizing a glorified version of the past. This is about making America better than it ever was and acknowledging the ways in which this country has hurt and continues to hurt its people.

There is no such thing as a perfect president or a perfect country, and there never will be.

Hopefully, a Biden presidency will mean openly recognizing our country’s failures and actively working to address them in order to create a truly great nation we can all be proud of.