Tuesday night I sat in my living room with my housemates and watched the election results unfold with increasing levels of despair and anger and confusion. At one point my best friend and I went outside and ran around in the dark in the middle of the street just to get away from it all, but when it was finally announced that Trump had won the election we were anchored to the couch. I had my hand over my mouth and I felt like I was screaming inside. Watching him take the stage and hearing the crowd chant “USA! USA!” my heart broke. As a women my heart broke. As a person who has a certain level of privilege my heart broke for all those I love who will be even more drastically affected by these results.
The past few days I’ve been trying to wrap my head and heart around this election. I think the question “How?” has been echoing in my head non-stop. I’ve had friends cry on my shoulder. I’ve listened to stories of racist hatred breaking out across the US in a much more visible form than previously. I’ve listened to my mom tell me about her students expressing fear that their family members would be deported. I’ve listened to women despair over the fact that if the democratic candidate was a man then Trump would not have won the election. I’ve listened to victims of sexual assault and rape talk about their heartbreak in having a man who has joked about both and been accused of both win this election.
This is not just politics as usual. This is something different. People are experiencing a very visceral level of fear because Trump and his supporters have expressed absolute vitriol and hatred towards people that identify as they do.
Protests and marches have broken out across this nation, including at my own campus UC Santa Cruz, and already I’m hearing people say that people need to just accept this and move-on. I’m sorry, but that doesn’t fly with me. We need to let people experience their emotions. We need to let people use their voices. We need to show that this racism, sexism and bigotry will not stand in this country. Use your voice! Do something, anything, but don’t be complacent.
I think the most terrifying thing about this election is not what will come from Trump’s actual decisions and actions once he takes power, but the absolute magnitude of racism and sexism he has exposed to be thriving in this country. When we have 60 million people voting for a man who openly brags about sexual assault, degrades women, violently stereotypes people of color and more, then we have a real problem. This election has finally put to rest the notion that we are living in a post-racial society. Am I afraid of Trump’s presidency? Yes. But am I more afraid of the attitude and behavior of fellow Americans that supported him? Absolutely. Trump’s victory has only validated their beliefs and behavior.
This is not about democrat v. republican. This is about standing strongly by the principles of compassion, equality and justice.
I’m also fearful for the state of this planet. We will now have a president and vice president who don’t believe in climate change. We live in a dangerous time and we need to be doing everything we can to protect the planet NOW. We can’t afford 4 years of environmental degradation in the name of profit. I genuinely fear where we will be as a world in 4 years.
So what do we do now?
One, stop joking about moving away. We need to be here together and we need to work on creating as much change for good as we can here.
We organize. We make our voices heard. We stand up for each other and we stand together. Together we are powerful and we can let Trump and his supporters know that we will not stand for bigotry. Protest, march, rally. Let your loved ones who are fearful know that you are there for them and that you aren’t going anywhere. Be an ally.
Now more than ever we need to stand up for our planet and all those we share it with. If you are feeling fearful, anxious, angry and are grieving, allow yourself to experience that. Your emotions are valid. Then channel those emotions into creating positive change.
Finally I’m here for you if you need someone to talk/cry/scream to.