Today I woke up at three A.M, and reached for my phone. I was so excited for the news, and fully expected to pick up my phone and see that sanity had prevailed. While I knew our country was divided by racism and hatred, I was almost positive that the majority would vote for love and peace.
But that’s not what I saw.
I instead saw one text that said, “Trump might win”. And I swear my heart stopped.
I think the important thing to note about that text is that it still left a lot of hope. Sure that hope was quickly destroyed by the incoming election results, but even before he became the clear winner I was devastated. I was devastated, because at this point, even if Clinton had won, so many people had voted for hatred, and that spoke wonders for what my country stood for.
The first time I experienced racism was in second grade, when my worst enemy whispered to my friend, “I don’t like black people” and my friend responded by saying, “I don’t either”. I was devastated because I didn’t know that hatred like that existed, and I immediately went to my teacher and I cried because I didn’t know what this meant for my family, and I really didn’t know what it meant for myself. I was sent to the office to call my dad, because the school had to inform my parents that an incident like this had happened. I remember my hands were shaking, and I didn’t want to repeat those words into the phone. I was so ashamed and I felt as though I had done something wrong. I was only in second grade, but that experience really changed me. After that, I started seeing racism everywhere, but never as public and never as outwardly as this.
Long before November, I knew that our country was going to need rebuilding. Just the fact that a politician like Trump had gained so much power was terrifying. And he wasn’t tricking people into supporting him and he wasn’t introducing a new system of beliefs, He was exploiting the believes that so many people in America already had, and giving people the liberty to talk about them and act on them. The country was being divided. Trump losing wasn’t going to change this, but Trump winning could only accelerate this issue to new levels, and yet I really didn’t think this was going to happen.
I also don’t know how to deal with the fact that it did happen. I’ve never felt anything like this before. I’m incredibly disappointed, but to say this doesn’t speak levels to the impact that this decision is going to have in America.
It’s easy to joke about this, and it’s easy to forget that this decision has a personal impact for so many people, but for me it’s impossible to forget what an impact this is going to have on my family. Immediately after the election results came in I got a text from my dad that told me and my family to stay safe. Everyone I’ve talked to has already cried, and I personally have cried 3 times. I keep wanting to tell myself that I’m overdramatizing this issue, because it will be only four years, but it will be four years of us jumping backwards to antiquated values and hatred.
So my heart is weeping for my country, and I can’t believe that this is a choice we actually made. It wasn’t an accident, real people voted for this, and real people are out there celebrating about this. I want to hate this people but I can’t, because I can’t really blame them. This isn’t the fault of their individual values, but instead the fault of centuries worth of institutionalized racism, sexism, xenophobia and etc.
The post that most touched me today was from my old IB coordinator who wrote that he wasn’t disappointed in his country but rather disappointed in himself because he hadn’t done enough. I don’t think I’ve done enough either. I’ve always been an advocate for social justice and love over hate, but I failed to acknowledge that hatred could soar to these levels. I wanted to have hope that people were better than this, but in that I failed to stay aware of the division we had in our country.
However, I think in times like this resiliency is the key. The ability to admit that we messed up, and that we hit rock bottom but still strive to better is the only way I know how to get myself out of this mess.
Since 3 am this morning, I’ve been struggling to find answers. I’m devastated that I’m in Brazil and that I’m not there to support my family and my country, and I’ve continued to reach out to people for advice. How can I forgive the people that wanted this? How can I help my country when I’m not there? I still don’t have the answers, but I’ve come up with a couple solutions. The most simple one is to accept that this happened, but to continue to support organizations that stand for my values. For me, this means being an advocate and donating, and it also means continuing to educate myself. However, my favorite solution is a lot more internal. Instead of being angry at the people who voted for Trump, or running away from my country, I want to continue to spread love in the face of this hatred. It’s bad enough that this sort of hatred is being normalized but on either side spreading hate only adds to the division of our country.
I want to end this post by saying that I love America. I’ve spent so many years of my life talking about how much I hate the place I come from, and how disappointed I am in the values that it supports. I agreed that every other country was better than mine, but this experience really shows me how much I was taking it for granted. I am in mourning, not for the country (because I don’t think it’s died) but rather for the positive values that have the potential to be buried because of this decision. However, I don’t think that these values have to be lost, because there are so many people who still believe in them, and I’m going to continue to spread and support them.