Photo by John Novotny
When I awoke to the news that Donald Trump had won the 2016 presidential election, I was devastated. I think that this confused a lot of my friends and family members, seeing as I am a 20-year-old straight, white woman who does not face much discrimination on a daily basis. Yet, I awoke to the news and felt like something had been ripped out of me. It used to be my dream to come face to face with the president of the United States, but now, I would be too scared to even get close.
For the months prior to the election, I listened to this man make comments about a disabled reporter, disrespect a slain soldier’s mother, speak about women in a way that I’ve never heard any of my male friends speak, even after too many drinks, and more. I’ve watched the whole world laugh at him, but also watched more than half of the world vote for him, which made it all the more terrifying. I thought that he would simply lose by a few points, and that those points would somehow prove to me that we were better than this.
For the days following the election, I was filled with a type of anger that scared me. I was angry that I couldn’t do more to help or change the results. I was angry that my classmates who face discrimination already would feel unsafe to walk on their own country’s grounds. I was angry that this is the man that I will have to tell my future son or daughter about.
Yet, the more I thought about it, I realized that the reason I am kind to people regardless of their race, religion, or culture, is not because of the president. Although Barack Obama was a shining example of treating everyone with respect, I did not learn this attitude from watching him speak on TV or reading about him in the news. I learned it at home, from my parents, and out in the real world, where I realized that being nice felt good and did good for my character.
I wanted so badly to have the person in the White House have this same attitude, and I realize that neither candidate was flawless. But, there is a difference between being flawed and being downright disrespectful. With that being said, I hope that Mr. Trump surprises me, and the rest of America who is waiting to see what his next move is. I hope that he sheds his previous attitudes and words and replaces them with a plan that gets the job done, but does not make the people of this country feel disrespected and disgraced while doing so.
I would have loved to have the man or woman standing before our country to have been someone that I am proud of, but those are not the cards we’ve been dealt. So, love your neighbor, love your friends, love your family, and love and show compassion to strangers who may not have it as easy as you do. If you hear or see something wrong, speak up and stand up. March on streets, hold signs that make it to the news, and sign petitions, but be respectful and rise above. Destruction does not solve problems; it only adds fuel to a fire that can easily be put out if we stopped hating one another.