I'll start with a truth: I have never craved a salad in December. I don't crave the crunch, or the freshness, or the tang. Salads do not give me the "warm fuzzies" in December and, therefore, I have no interest in them. I do, however, have a steadfast interest in cookies.

While cookies may just be my own, personal problem, I posit that maybe cookies - and other "warm fuzzies" are an American  problem. We quickly lose interest in things that are full of substance in favor of things that can provide us with feelings of comfort. Take, for example, a commercial about travel, Christmastime, and a cute, elderly man:

If that doesn't make you feel like you've eaten through a plate of hot, gooey brownies, I don't know what will. But let's think about that for a minute. What if this commercial had featured an elderly man from Iraq, or Iran, or Turkey, or Syria, or Mexico? Would this commercial have been so "cute" without a white old man? Does the thought that your reaction might have changed make you uncomfortable. I get that.

The feeling of being uncomfortable is a necessary emotion. I hope that, in preparing for a new year, the feeling wakes us up to the fact that American institutions - media outlets, law enforcement, universities, etc. - project an optimism not only on election news but often on sports news,  and corporate news as well. Too often news stories should not be written with this fake optimism. They should not be written to make us feel "warm" and comfortable. Too often, in 2016, news stories were racism stories. As such, that is how they should have been written. Why weren't they? Because racism is an uncomfortable topic. It is also complicated. I agree with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's statement that,

...no racism story is ever a “simple” racism story, in which grinning evil people wearing white burn crosses in yards. A racism story is complicated, but it is still a racism story, and it is worth parsing. Now is not the time to tiptoe around historical references. Recalling Nazism is not extreme; it is the astute response of those who know that history gives both context and warning.
— The New Yorker

The coming year cannot come fast enough. I know that as a nation we would rather leave the recent past behind in favor of holiday commercials, football playoffs, and food comas, but I pray that we don't. Rather, I hope that we start looking for context in the history that we are writing. I hope that we heed its warning.

Elise Matson