Obviously, I was excited. It was finally the end. The day I had been waiting for for almost two years. Polling lines were long. I ran out of my 9am class to vote before my 11am. In the student union of Capital University, people were excited. Thrilled- even. We would have a female president after today. “Stronger Together” will have won.
By 10pm that night, though, things had changed. I was one of the first people in my dorm room to realize what was happening. I had been volunteering in the news room at a local TV station, and watched the numbers coming in live. Ohio was going Trump. It didn’t take me long to figure out the rest. However, it wasn’t until Florida went Trump that people realized what had happened. My roommate collapsed. People watching screamed. It was like the world around me was witnessing something horrific- but it was just an election. I sat with my friends on the couch in my apartment and sobbed. My lesbian friend cried about her future. My other friend cried about her aunt being deported. Another friend of mine, a practicing muslim, texted me out of complete devestation.
I called my a Republican friend from high school, someone I consider a best friend, trying to find some sort of comfort in what was going on. Instead I got “I wanted a conservative supreme court” and “if they’re here illegally, then they should be deported.” I hung up the phone quickly. In some respects, I could understand that. A Republican victory is by no means the “end of the world.” The Republican party is valid- so are their opinions. But this time- it was different. This wasn’t just another middle aged, white governor from a red state who believed in “conservative order.” This was Donald Trump, a man who made fun of the disabled and once upon a time said “grab her by the pussy.” Yes- the comment was made far away and a long time removed- but so were the sins of Hillary Clinton. Everything counts. That’s just me.
By the end of the night I was stunned into silence. I forced myself to stay up and watch the 270. Then, I curled up in bed.
The Morning After:
I woke up the next morning and didn’t even turn on the news- which is uncharacteristic of me. I skipped my first class, like most of the students at my college, but made it by 11am. When I made eye contact with my friends, it was clear: people around me wanted to cry. Everyone did. The only two happy people I saw were two white, 20 year olds wandering around campus, cheerily greeting people walking around. But to any black, hispanic, LGBT, or Muslim person I saw, people were stunned.
I spent the afternoon trying to study. I mindlessly Chicago style annotated a paper. I sat with my friend in the library. I went to my favorite bakery. Some people called me- or I called them. I told people to be safe. Other people told me I was overreacting. “Things will be fine. This won’t be nearly as bad as you think,” my friend said. Of course- he was a white man. For him- this won’t change unless it hits him in the wallet.
I came to the realization quickly a) white men don’t like to be told that they’re white men and b) this was a lot more complicated then “white men.” To be honest, when I say that, it’s rather unfair. Some of the kindest people I know- my best friends, my brother, my father- are white men. The whole idea that “white people” are Trump supporters is dangerous. I’m white. However, it also must be emphasized that this distinction is important when it comes to who is affected. White men are the ultimate privileged caste in American society, with the white woman following after. White people have their own set of issues. I’m not saying that life is infinitely easier- but it is different. But when you tell a white person that, they’ll never understand- it’s automatically an insult. It’s not meant to be. A good friend of mine described it perfectly- Everyone feels social pain. Maybe black Americans feel a stabbing pain. The LGBT community feels burning. Hispanics feel throbbing. But even if it’s different, they still understand mutual pain. The privileged will never feel or experience anything. It’s not they’re not aware of what’s right or wrong- but they are ignorant to feeling. As as white woman, I can uphold this. I will never experience systematic, subconscious racism. Stating this is not hateful towards the white American. It’s uncomfortable: but real. People say that playing the “identification politics” feeds the fire. May be it does. But here’s the thing: it’s real. It’s valid. According to BBC news: (http://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-37922587)
Among white voters (who made up 70% of voters), Mr Trump won 58% to Mrs Clinton’s 37%, while the Democratic candidate won the support of a huge majority of black voters – 88% to Mr Trump’s 8% – and Hispanic voters – 65% to his 29%.
These numbers are hard to ignore. Say it doesn’t matter all you want. The divide is real. It shouldn’t exist- but it does. And I think it speaks volumes that a candidate managed to do it.
It didn’t take very long for someone to accuse me of being hateful. “Just accept it and move on” became something I heard over and over on social media. I was accused of being a “divider,” and ultimately “part of the problem.” I, obviously, disagree. A woman later comment on my mother’s facebook post, pointing out something similar. We were being hateful.
People like to use that word, huh? Hateful.
The truth is that people like to throw that word around when they disagree with someone else’s views. Hatred is blind, anger towards another human with illogical reasoning and violent, malicious intent. There’s a difference in pointing out that something is wrong and being hateful. There are opinions that should be debated an accepted. Disliking black people isn’t one of them. Disliking LGBT people isn’t one of them. Mocking the disabled isn’t one of them. Pointing those things out isn’t wrong or hateful. Ignoring them most certainly is.