Photograph by Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty
In the wake of the election I have found myself like millions of other Americans disheartened at the idea of the new President-Elect. I wish I could say that this was a surprise. I wish I could say I am baffled by the results. But in all actuality I am not. Like many other Americans in this country I am now struggling to determine how I would like to move forward because whether or not I like the results he will become the next President of the United States. He will be tasked with running our country. He will have to unify (if he chooses) a very divided country. And I know I will have to decide my next steps as well. So I took a week of reflection and introspection. I took a week to gather my emotions and get my head straight. I took a week to pray. And these are the conclusions I’ve come to.
In my discussions with Trump supporters I found most often than not they were supporting him because “he says exactly what he’s thinking”. Which on some occasions can be a good quality, but if you have been following his campaign and the rhetoric that he has been spewing and you have some semblance of human decency you realize that answer is terrifying. Because in taking a closer look you come to realize that these individuals also agreed with WHAT he was saying. That at some point in their lives they have thought the words he so carelessly flung around. They just weren’t bold enough to say them. Donald Trump’s campaign was built on fear and divisiveness. Make no mistake, fear is an extremely powerful tool. A tool his campaign utilized and aimed at members of the white community that in some ways felt emasculated by women and challenged by minorities. A tool he aimed at members of the white community that have felt marginalized and ignored for decades and who are quickly realizing that they no longer represent the majority. He played to their fear of change. A change that didn’t look like them, but like the “other”. And it is what he has been saying during his campaign that has given me pause about his ability to run our nation. Because don’t get me wrong I have reviewed his policies. I took the time out to research what his key points were during his campaign and I can’t say I disagree with all of his points. He had some good ideas, BUT, and this is a big but, I can’t overlook his behavior or other policies. Better yet I REFUSE to overlook them. Sometimes it’s not just about policies that could essentially better YOUR life or your community. Sometimes you have to take a stand for the betterment of those around you.
We teach our children every day how to behave, what not to say, and how to treat others. We tell them character is vitally important to be the best version of themselves that they can be. That they should treat others how they would want to be treated. We tell them actions have consequences. But those messages were lost this election. We allowed a man to not only help spread homophobia, xenophobia, misogyny, racism, and sexism. We patted him on the back for it. We essentially spread the message to our children that any of those issues with his character could be overlooked as long as he serves “my” best interest.
Because in no way are you looking out for the betterment of all if you were able to overlook him calling the act of sexual assault on live national television “locker room” talk. As if any type of talk about pushing yourself on a woman without her consent is OK. That mindset, is what led to Brock Turner raping an unconscious woman and blaming it on alcohol consumption. That mindset, is what leads to women like me being on constant alert when we’re out in public because men like him are justified in how and when they decide to physically assault us. Because other men overlook, ignore, or validate his words. That mindset, is what forces me to exclaim LOUDLY that I am a PERSON. I am not an OBJECT for a man to do with as he pleases. And that mindset is also what leads men to believe that they have any SAY in what I do with my OWN body. It’s the same mindset that has led to Donald Trump campaigning on the idea that he would overturn Roe v. Wade. You can say I’m not fighting for the right to choose what I do with my own body. That I am actually fighting simply for the right to an abortion, however, it’s still MY RIGHT. It’s not your decision. It’s a decision between myself, my doctor, and the man I might happen to be with. Sadly, however, I’m not surprised. Men have been teaching women for decades through their actions and words that we have no rights. Every time we are touched without our consent, told to remain quiet, laws are passed, programs are de-funded that decide our futures for us we are being stripped of our rights. The right to say NO don’t touch me. NO that is not your decision to make. NO this is my life, not yours.
You weren’t looking out for the betterment of all if you were able to overlook him claiming that illegal immigrants coming from Mexico were “rapists” who were bringing drugs and crime. That to best handle this illegal immigration “issue” we should build a way, which is essentially another way to divide. Because if you truly understood why individuals illegally immigrated here, you would see that a good percentage that are immigrating here are refugees fleeing countries like Honduras. Where gang members trafficking drugs utilize the houses of the immigrants to hide their drugs. Where these same members sexually harass the young women of these immigrant families. Where even if the man of the house is bold enough to face these gang leaders and try to fight them off they are told “you have 24 hours to leave or we’ll kill you”. Or Mexico where a family can be kidnapped by the cartel and held for ransom. If you don’t believe me, watch the documentary series America Divided, episode 6, where they discuss illegal immigration and you hear these stories. And if you still remain in disbelief I can tell you first hand as someone who has traveled to Mexico it’s very unnerving to be told “to not go anywhere alone” because there’s a chance you could get kidnapped. These people aren’t coming to America to ruin our economy. They are coming to America to better their families lives because their own country has failed them. These aren’t rapists and criminals. They are you and I. Human beings who just want to be safe and live fulfilling lives.
You weren’t looking out for the betterment of all if you were able to overlook him supporting the First Amendment Defense Act which allows anti-LGBTQ discrimination, promising to appoint judges that could dismantle the rights given to the LGBTQ community, and appointing a VP who openly supports the idea of conversion therapy. As if who you love is worth being condemned for. As if who you love in any way affects anyone else’s life. As if who you love should mean that you don’t deserve to be a citizen and have all the rights that come with that citizenship. I have a lesbian cousin who I dearly love and I can’t stop thinking that her rights might be taken from her. That there will come a day that she wants to marry her girlfriend and she can’t. That she will remember the few years in time that she could have. And I can’t help but worry that it won’t stop there. That they’ll find a way to tell her that she is not fit for adoption because of the person she loves. I fear that day because I don’t want anyone to tell my beautiful, vibrant, outspoken cousin that she is less than. Because let’s be very clear that’s what the message is.
You weren’t looking out for the betterment of all if you were able to overlook the fact the he has stated that “no he would not rule out a database on all Muslims, but for now he wants a database for refugees”. That he clearly hasn’t given a hard NO to a database for Muslims is in itself alarming. The idea of registering Muslims is outrageous. It’s inhumane. These people aren’t dogs that we put on a chip to keep track of (and mind you, when we do that it’s usually out of love because when dogs get lost we want them returned). These are human beings. I know Trump and Clinton in kind ran a platform on the fear of ISIS. But I don’t fear ISIS. And according to a FBI study done between the years 1980 and 2006 ninety-four percent of terrorist attacks that had occurred in America were done by Non-Muslim terrorists. And data compiled by Mother Jones magazine which looked at mass shootings in the U.S. since 1982 found that sixty-four percent of the shootings were done by white men. So who should we really be fearing? Because for me it wouldn’t be the native Muslims. The statistics just aren’t there. But after this election there are Muslims who have decided that being Muslim is too risky in America. Some who have decided that wearing their Hijab is not worth the discrimination they will face or the target they feel it would put on their back. People who have never wavered from their faith, but find it’s the only option. I watched as a close friend of mine broke down in tears on election night for fear of what will happen to herself, but more importantly her family. Who seriously contemplated the state of her future and if America was the country in which she wanted to live. Someone who I know by her strength and who I watched lose some of the fight in her. This isn’t imaginary to her. It’s her life.
We tell our children that their words can have power and this year during this election that was proven true. Not only by the many bigoted and racists individuals that came out to vote for Trump, but by the many young children who are afraid for their future because of this man’s rhetoric. Teachers around the country are having to try to explain to their students what this means for them. They are having to re-validate to children of color, LGBTQ, and Muslim children that they matter and are important in this country. His words brought out the under belly of hate that our country was built on. It brought out individuals who now believe they have every right to verbally and physically assault people of color, the LGBTQ community, and women because Trump is now president and to them he represents their views. Trump may not physically be carrying out these acts of violence that are happening around the country, but he certainly contributed to it. And his silence has affirmed them.
To those of you who say I didn’t vote for him because of those policies or how he spoke, I voted for him because I have my own family to worry about and certain policies he spoke of fit better with my values and what I wanted to see for the future of my life and my family. My answer to you is this. You may not have voted for his homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic, racist, and sexist viewpoints and in some instances policies, but none of those reasons stopped you either. And to me that is so much worse. Enough has to be enough at some point. Our best interests have to stop being more important than the interest of humanity as a whole. As a country we have to remember how much power words have always had. It’s not enough to say “well that’s not why I voted for him.” Because in this day and age of social media people are quicker to jump on the bandwagon of a really well placed meme or video then they are to actually research the truth behind it. And to those individuals who have supported his campaign because they see a man who supports white supremacy, his message was heard loud and clear in each divisive and illogical statement he made. My cousins life is on the line, my friend’s life is on the line, my life is on the line, and other individuals lives are on the line and you chose “your” best interest over us.
So don’t tell me I need to “get over it”. Don’t tell me we need to unify and come together when I have watched him for over a year divide and conquer. Don’t tell me that I am not allowed to grieve. As if there is some off switch to the pain and sorrow I feel at watching a future barrel towards me that I never chose. This isn’t about my candidate not winning. I wasn’t happy with either choice. This is about a MAN who spent his entire campaign marginalizing the already marginalized. Who made it cool to say “grab her by the pussy”. Who told his supporters in a speech in Sioux Center, Iowa “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot people and I wouldn’t lose voters”. Who told his supporters at a rally in Wilmington, North Carolina “by the way, if she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do folks. Although the Second Amendment people–maybe there is, I don’t know”. This is about someone who never thought about the repercussion of his words and the resounding effect it would have in our country. Who never thought about the impressionable children who would be hearing his words and mimicking them.
You may be able to look the other way at the outbreak of hate crimes that have occurred around the nation after his election, but I can’t. You need to understand that his campaign opened the flood gates for hatred in our country to be openly acceptable. His presidency has made individuals feel it is now their right to project their hatred on those who can’t fight for themselves. It has validated feelings some people have had for decades and you think those gates are just going to close because he made one plea for people to “stop it”. A plea that he only made after he was informed that hate crimes were being acted out in his name. As if he didn’t actually know it was happening. Because if he has time to be conscious of the goings on, on SNL and at the Hamilton show, then you better believe he knows what’s going on around the country. Seriously, this man was endorsed by the KKK and even if he denounced their endorsement it doesn’t matter. The endorsement lit a beacon for white supremacy. And it was validated by those that voted for him even if they didn’t hold similar beliefs. This isn’t just going to go away. His presidency may be a scary proposition in and of itself, but what I fear more are the many individuals who now feel empowered to say and do as they please because of his election.
So PLEASE stop telling me I need to wait and see what he’s going to do. I don’t have that luxury. You may be able to wait, but I can’t. And if the people he has started to surround himself with are any indication of the direction in which we are heading. I pray for us all.
I will be spending the next four years voicing my concerns. I will not become complacent and fall back into the status quo. I will be vigilant and mindful of what is occurring around me. More than ever I will fight for others just as much as I fight for myself. This is no longer a battle for the betterment of my life, but for the lives of those that are dearest to me. The future that I once held dear is being threatened and I will not go quietly. Don’t ask me to and don’t expect me to. My conscious won’t allow it. And if you love me you wouldn’t want me to.