Election Day Wake-Up Call

*Warning* this post is about my response to the results of our 2016 presidential election. If you are here looking for posts about good food, books, etc. scroll on.

I am always careful not to post anything political or even slightly controversial on social media. This blog, however, is meant to be a sort of scrapbook for my thoughts and experiences at this liminal stage of my life and is not something I intend to share with the wider world (You are welcome, dear reader. I just mean that I am not plastering links to it over everything.). The lead up to and now the fall out from the election has been such a dominant topic that the blog would be incomplete if I skated over it just because it is not a subject as well suited to cute pictures and list making. Although it is slightly less glamorous than travel and shopping, taking on civic responsibility is an important part of “playing adult.”

Let me begin by saying that in any other circumstance I almost certainly would not have supported Hillary Clinton. Although this post will express my disappointment with her defeat, do not think that I am her biggest fan. I recognize that both candidates had significant faults. Clearly, many voters found that on the whole, the balance of shortcomings fell in Donald Trump’s favor. I would argue that Trump had one flaw that should have wholly disqualified him from becoming president, his hateful words against minorities.

Before the electoral college counts started to add up, I had not really considered the possibility that Trump might win. I assumed that because he had said such horrible things only fringe groups could still support him. As the night went on, I discovered that this was not the case. My enormous ignorance of the amount of bigotry and racism that our society tolerates dawned on me.

On most days, I find the hyper political correctness on college campuses silly. Terms like “safe spaces” make me a bit insane. Waking up on the morning following election day, though, I got it. For the first time I had some small understanding of just how unsafe the outside world can be for people who do not look like me. On a college campus that routinely comes in at the top of the Princeton Review’s ranking for interaction among students of different racial, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, many of my closest friends are muslim, POC, and LGBTQ+. I felt an odd mix of wanting to hug my dear friends, longing to protect them and also a sense of guilt, of not wanting to look them in the eye. In the last several hours I had learned something that I realize they have always had to know, that the United States has by no means moved past racism, that half the country would be willing to vote for a man who said people like them, the children of immigrants, were inferior or even dangerous. I had conversations with them and read status updates where they described a sense of deep hurt and even of terror. Here is a quote from a post on Humans of New York that describes the sentiment they expressed well.

“There was suspicion that most Americans supported him but I could hope that it was wrong. But now that hope is gone. And I have to feel differently. I have to feel like maybe most Americans don’t want me here. And I feel like no matter how hard I try, I’ll never be part of the community. And even if they’re friendly to me, or if they invite me to Thanksgiving, deep down they believe that America is a country that belongs to white people.”

I hope that President-elect Trump can put the discriminatory and inflammatory speech of the campaign trail behind him and get to work on the business of governing a vibrantly diverse nation. I hope that I remember the way my heart broke Wednesday morning as I scrolled through my Facebook News Feed and read words of fear and pain. I hope that I do not retreat so far into the comfort of my privileged perspective that I forget the daily challenges faced by many Americans.

 

If you read all the way through these serious ramblings, you have earned a link to a TED Talk by James Veitch about unsubscribing from spam email.

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