On November 8th, 2016, Donald J. Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States of America. This election, for numerous marginalized groups of people, represented an unforeseen regression in American history, potentially erasing decades of social progress. In the wake of such turmoil, it is important to acknowledge that our feelings of anger and frustration are valid. It is important to acknowledge and discuss the fear we feel for the future, and the uncertainty that characterizes tomorrow. If America will not say it with their vote, let us be the first: we acknowledge you and we care for you.
Over these past few days there’s been an eerie, quiet spell over campus. Yet, in our most uncertain moments, the greatest gift we can give to one another is our love. Love one another today, tomorrow, and more so than ever before as we enter the next four years.
A massive perspective gap foreshadowed the shock that characterized Election 2016. Over the past eight years, a majority of white rural Americans have felt as though their voices were unheard, and their needs unmet. The purported stagnancy of the middle class made recovery from the economic recession a difficult task. Government focus on the suffering lower class, although warranted, brought with it a feeling of neglect for other economic and social classes. These feelings of neglect transformed into action this week, as this unhappy base voted into office a man who claimed to be their only hope. His seemingly innumerable sexist, racist, xenophobic and generally discriminatory comments became secondary or tertiary issues. Granted, there is a population that wholeheartedly believes the rhetoric that Mr. Trump espouses. Simultaneously, there exists a population that simply believes in voting for the issues that concern them and them alone. The ramifications of electing Trump in office have been felt worldwide and he hasn’t technically took office yet.
Now, we move forward.
And herein lies one of the greatest obstacles to face during these next four years: understanding. To the democratic voter: one may be quick to label Republican voters as sexist, racist, xenophobic, etc… but perhaps time would be better spent educating them on why the beliefs of Trump’s Administration would present problems for our respective communities. There may be teachers, neighbors, and old high school friends who you know supported the other side for a variety of reasons– it may be that these circles are an ideal place to begin. To the republican voter: Despite your personal motives in voting, please do not ignore or deny the existence of malicious supporters of Trump, rallied during his campaign, who are now directing explicit hatred to our communities. Personally, you may not believe yourself to be racist, sexist, or xenophobic, but you must understand that you voted for a man whose campaign relied on fear, hatred, and prejudice. You may have voted for a free market, but that vote came with the perpetuation of sexually predatory behavior and outright disrespect of women’s rights. You may have voted for limited government, but that vote came with the the endorsement of those who discriminately target black and brown bodies. You may have voted for your family values, but that vote came with the denial of the basic rights of our LGBTQ communities, which we are still fighting to protect. Your vote has consequences, whether they be unintentional or otherwise. Now, we must all deal with them, together.
We must all refuse to be complacent in times such as these when our communities are threatened. We must be willing to reach out and have the honest conversations needed to educate one another about issues of importance. We do not always have to agree, but we must all be united against hate. We will do as we always do and fight to ensure our voices are heard, both on campus and in our surrounding communities.
It will not be easy. We will be aggravated, tired, dismal. But it is going to be upon us to bridge the gap. Rest up and mourn, but we have work to do to protect our legacy, the legacy of our ancestors, and ensure that following generations have a legacy of their own to form.
Please check this link to learn about more actionable items in preparation for January 2017.