Post-Election Sentiment: This Isn’t ‘Whining’

I’ll be the first to admit—I was naïve enough to think Trump didn’t have a chance in this election. Hell, I was buying running shoes and then testing them out at the gym on election night because I had no interest in watching cable news networks treat our democracy like the Indy 500. But when I got word that it was a dangerously close race, my stomach fell as I tuned in.

Trump won and I’ll accept him as the leader of this country. But I ask all voters (and non-voters) to exercise empathy and respect me, my fellow women, all minority and immigrant groups, people with disabilities and the LGBTQ community in this trying time. Telling me to get over it, to stop whining, to move forward and do something instead, marginalizes what this election means and gives another White Man a free pass.

I’m not afraid of Trump as president. I have faith in the number of intelligent and well-intentioned Republicans in congress that will guide him on a path to better our country. What tears me up at my core—the thought that hasn’t let my eyes dry since Tuesday night—is that millions and millions of Americans were OK with the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic behavior Trump has showcased throughout his campaign and much of his adulthood. His voters were of two: Either they themselves are close-minded or they chose to ignore his bigotry. What’s most difficult about this week isn’t that Donald Trump is president-elect—it’s walking around post-election knowing full well that half of this country deeply believes, whether consciously or not, that I’m worth less than them.

It’s the cycle we face in all areas of prejudice; turning the other cheek to unacceptable behavior further entrenches that discrimination into our system. See: women paid far less than men; police brutality against black men; blaming and shaming victims in cases of rape and sexual assault; the list drags on.

Trump called for a ban on all Muslims entering America. He said Muslim-Americans should be registered and identified. He said we should be “extremely vetted,” which truth be told sounds as absurd as ‘grabbing our p****.’ Islamophobia in America is very real and has been for many years. But by electing Trump, we validated those opinions and actions. We said: Yes, it’s OK to feel that way about your peers who have the same rights as you do, but are lesser beings because of their race, religion, gender, ethnicity or sexuality. Millions of Americans, by casting their votes for that man, said that Muslim-Americans, Latino-Americans, Black-Americans, the LGBTQ community and women don’t matter enough. And that’s a tough pill to swallow.

So, please, empathize with me and the millions of others in this country deeply affected by this election and understand why we can’t turn the other cheek to this. We don’t have the luxury to do that.

But truthfully, this isn’t about me. I grew up privileged, loved and surrounded by family. My heart aches for those who don’t have that support—financially, emotionally or physically. For those who will lose the ability to afford health insurance and realize that the income disparity will only get worse because there isn’t a president in their corner who will champion their rights. I will fight for you and help your voices be heard, but I’m afraid that won’t be enough. What this election has told me is that the acceptance of hatred, bigotry and ignorance is more widespread than I can even comprehend. We empowered hate this week.

For many years all across our country—in work environments, in schools, in public spaces—the very groups that Donald Trump has attacked and insulted on the campaign trail work hard to fight against discrimination. We fight, even knowing that these issues won’t be fixed overnight. One battle at a time, we fight for progress with hopeful hearts. But when our country elects someone like Trump, we are stripped of that very hope. Because if a mean-spirited bully can rally millions of people and win a monumental election, then how can we win our battles on the ground floor?

I campaigned for Barack Obama for the 2008 election. I phone-banked my butt off in Missouri and knocked on doors in rural Iowa with fellow college students who were hopeful for change. That was hard. Confronting racism head-on, trying to explain to people that having a Black President is no different than a White President was challenging. But with patience in one hand and hope in the other, many across the country did just that. I will hold dearly in my heart that first NovemberTuesday in 2008, standing with a group of tearful college peers as we watched the first Black President elected in the United States. We were a part of history.

And now we’re back in history. I can’t properly express how much it breaks my heart thinking about all the children today and in the future. Knowing that they’ll have to fight again for something we tried to accomplish for them makes me so incredibly sad. That I can’t guarantee that they’ll be able to live in a tolerant nation after people in this very nation have been fighting for them since the country’s founding is just heartbreaking. And I can’t bear thinking about what it feels like for my parents, who moved here more than 40 years ago, and for the many other immigrant families who created a new home in America to ensure a better life for their children. Imagine putting trust in a country that continually tells them that they don’t belong.

In the two days since Trump has been elected, there’s been an influx of hate crimes against minority groups from apparent Trump supporters. People pulling hijabs off Muslim women, people telling Mexicans to leave before the wall is built, people proudly showing off their Confederate flags while noting that Black Lives Don’t Matter, and the one that even I have heard my whole life: People yelling, ‘Go back to your country.’

Listen up, folks. This is our country. The best thing Trump can do now that he is the leader of our country is to denounce the hateful behavior of some of his supporters. Until then, I’ll spread as much love as I can, with patience in one hand and hope in the other.