This is a very dangerous man, our next president. Dangerous in his certitude about what he doesn’t know. Dangerous in his ignorance of history, his antipathy toward reading, his inability to sort fact from fiction. The last man to play things by the gut while in control of the world’s most powerful military left a mortal mess.
i took a few days before i wrote anything. i need the emotional space to settle my feelings and i wanted time to talk to the people around me that i love. i wanted to gather the facts. i needed to gather the facts. and here’s what i have to say.
i live in new york city. born and raised in queens, i acknowledge that i live in one of the biggest liberal echo chambers in this country. i knew i was a democrat before i knew what i wanted to major in at college. the primaries here were tough, not because there were so many republican candidates, but because people were actively squaring off for bernie and hillary. most of the people that i surround myself with are young first gens/immigrants, in their 20’s and 30’s. my friends and coworkers tend to be college educated. the exceptions are my parents/uncles/aunties/friends parents– but all those people tend to be immigrants or refugees.
what i’m trying to say is, i live in a bubble.
i know that there are people out there who think differently from me. i accept it. i read all about it in the newspapers and see it everywhere on the news. but for so long, even though i knew that there were people who thought different things and had fundamentally different beliefs, i still thought that there were enough people out there like those in my bubble to create a different outcome. people that i knew were either enthusiastic clinton supporters or begrudging ones.
on election night, i watched as states that were traditionally blue turned red. i watched as a large swath of this country– make no mistake, my country— turned red.and it hit me like a truck that no, there aren’t a lot of people out there like those around me.
to be fair, it’s not like i’ve ever been out there– anywhere but the liberal parts anyway. i have spent my whole life traversing the northeast and only recently flew out to cali. but otherwise i have rarely ventured south. i tried it– i lived in sweet briar, VA for 5 months before calling it quits and moving back to my city. but the midwest? deep south? never even tried to visit.
and as i watched this map turn, i felt frightened. i felt like the only place i would ever be welcome would be the coasts. because yes, coastal urbans can be elitist but the map on my tv was telling me that i was not welcome anywhere else in this country.
my friends and i went to a bar to watch the election results. at first, we were a little uncomfortable when trump won more states than hillary but we reassured ourselves that these were the traditional blue and red states– it was to be expected. but as i continued watching at B’s house, i realized that things were too close to be certain of anything. when we got on the train to my house, i burst into tears. the notifications kept coming in on my phone– he just kept winning. i knew then that some of my worst fears about this country were about to be confirmed.
i have always known that racism and sexism exist here, as much as they do anywhere. anytime i leave new york city, i am reminded of how different i am. of how my light brown skin and curly hair mark me as exotic but how my name “sounds white.” people stare in confusion as eloquent words flow out of me and wonder how it is that someone who looks like me can talk like me. so yeah, i’m aware. ask me to tell you the first time someone told me to go back to my country and i can tell you in detail– it was at a grocery store when i was 8 years old. i remember asking my mom why they said that to me– didn’t they know i was born in queens? where else would i go? i was sad, confused and upset because in my mind, how could they not know that this is my country?
those feelings from when i was 8 overtook me on the train ride. this is my country, i sobbed. this is my home. i keenly felt a massive sense of rejection, like my home didn’t want me anymore. it’s like i wasn’t welcome anymore– if i ever was.
i continued to grapple with this throughout the night. trump kept winning and i felt myself getting more numb. around 1 am, i accepted it was going to happen and went to bed. i fell asleep crying. when i woke up, i looked at my phone and began to cry again. i didn’t understand how i was supposed to get up and go to work. i didn’t understand how i was supposed to continue when a massive part of my identity– that of an american– had been so sharply broken in two.
but i got up.the day was gray and cold, apocalyptic it seemed. i did my makeup, i got on the train and i sat in my cubicle. everyone in this city seemed like a zombie. it was a blow to a city that is used to overstating its importance and assuming that it knows best. and perhaps it was a well-needed blow because clearly, there is more to america than the coastal liberal urbanites. truthfully, i got very little work done that day. i spent my day talking with B and comforting people at my workplace.
and i spent a lot of time being fearful. as i got off my train, someone spat at me and said “now you’ll go back to your own country.” in that moment, i felt the inexplicable urge to laugh and cry. where do you think i belong? which country will you send me to because i’m ambiguously brown?
it felt like someone had died. the deep sense of loss, grief and pain that i had can only be likened to that. and in a way, america– or the america i thought i knew– had died. and still. still, i was not angry. i tried to understand. and in trying to understand, i found that a lot of my loved ones had actually voted for trump. a lot of my uncles did because of the evangelical christian support (my family is hella christian). some of my friends have immigrant parents who voted for him because they thought hillary was a scam. and some people at my workplace did it because they thought he would bring jobs back.
even blue states aren’t homogenous.
i have been grappling with this and to some extent, i do understand. my father recently lost his industrial job. i would do anything for it back. but i still did not vote for this man to be president. i cannot, in good faith, support the racism and sexism that he purports. but what i truly take issue with is this demonizing of either side. a lot of my liberal college educated friends have been posting statuses about wanting to hurt privileged white men. a lot of them have been shitting on staten island for being a republican stronghold. but conversely, people across the country in red conservative states are attacking minorities and boasting about a trump win with the verbal and physical assault of women.
and i don’t understand it. a house divided cannot stand.
maybe it’s because of my position in this life. a daughter of immigrants, but not an immigrant herself. an american, but a hyphenated one. a brown person with liberal views. a christian, but not a white one. a girl with so many immigrant/first gen friends, but is dating a 4th gen white american. a millennial with strong roots to her family and culture.
i am in the confusing and blissful in-between of everything america represents. and i have always embraced that status. i know so many people who don’t fit into these stereotypes that are being flung around. my ukraine-born best friend lives in staten island and voted democratic. B’s dad is technically a white uneducated voter who voted democratic. conversely, not all immigrants come here illegally or “steal jobs.” lord knows that my family is comprised of people who could have been so much more if they had just been given the chance. but they never once complained– they worked hard and created a home for themselves here.
the rhetoric around me is one thick with emotion and not always of the good kind. i don’t really know where this post is going but i implore you, whoever you are, in the days going forward to always try to understand. because there is a very real fear being struck into the hearts of women, minorities, immigrants, the LGBTQ community (and so much more) as they realize that there are people who seem to truly hate them so much, that they elected this man president. and conversely, there is an ENTIRE section of this country that has felt so forgotten and forlorn in an age of new technology and global trade that they elected this man president. there are two sides to every coin.
and no, i don’t like it.
no, i don’t support it.
but i respect the concept of democracy and office of the president.
i will never “fall in line” behind this presidency. but i am gonna keep doing me. i’m gonna look out for me, my friends, my family.
because the end of the day, this is my country too.
i belong here just as much as anyone else. and i don’t have to prove that to anyone.
this election has forced me to think deeply about my family history in relation to my american identity. my maternal grandmother, bless her soul, left her children behind in guyana to immigrate to england and then to america. one by one, she brought all her children over to the west by taking whatever jobs she could. she went through hell to save and bring all her children over. in turn, all her children brought their spouses over (or married westerners) and worked hard to give all their children– my cousins– a better life. and we have that, at their expense. their family was torn apart and my mother in particular spent a lot of her formative years away from my grandma– because my grandma was abroad, working for a better future. so when people smirk and tell my mom to go back to india, it hurts. the sacrifice and the struggle that my family went through to get here, all for the promise of a better life, does not warrant that kind of easy dismissal.
but more than that, its more important for me that people understand that they willingly put themselves through hardship. all for the better life and opportunities that america stood– and still stands– for. i refuse to accept that everything they went through was for naught. my family (and when i say my family, i mean my entire extended family) has given everything to have as much as they do here. and we don’t have a lot, you know? chances are, we will never be the one percent. but we have each other and we have more than enough for ourselves.
and i have america to thank for that. for the opportunity to obtain an education, to read whatever i want, dress the way i want and vote for who i want. i still love america (hi baseball) as much as i’ve ever loved it. it’s going to take time to heal but that’s what the next four years are for. this isn’t the end of the world, even if it feels like it sometimes.
i have faith that this country will come together again. because out of many, we are one.