Let me be clear. I am not a girl who believes the world should fall at her feet. Quite the opposite. In fact, there's not a lot I expect to go my way. But as a resilient person by nature, I tend to pull a Mase and breathe, stretch, shake and let it go. A test didn't go my way, fine. A speech, whatever. My bank account, *shrug*. But what happened on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016 is not something I can let go. Not because I'm disappointed. But because I am deeply and irrevocably terrified of what happens next.
I'm not afraid because the candidate who won is conservative and I am not. It's deeper than that. In a nutshell, it's because my very way of being is threatened by a president like the one who was elected last night.
I have always been well aware that my family was an immigrant one. My family mixed their culture with America, forging our own traditions, combining both cultures to create the person who writes this right now. I am very proud to be a first generation American. I followed in my mother's footsteps to have friends of many races and backgrounds, many just like me. Some are refugees, some are first generation children, and all have parents just looking for a better life, working hard for their piece of the American Dream. That was the America I was proud of, the America I knew to be strong and great. After all, isn't the United States a country literally built on immigration? But last night, this idealized America was flipped on its head by a man whose platform ran on xenophobia and racist lies.
I am not saying living in America has been easy for me as of late. My blackness has been under attack in a way I never thought possible. First came the Trayvon Martin verdict. Then, the screams of Ferguson. Of Baltimore. New York. Milwaukee. I remember being afraid to let my brother leave the house, lest he become a hashtag. Then I was afraid for my mother. For a while, I was afraid to go to church. I remember speaking to Bridget Anderson, the girlfriend of Anthony Hill, and choking back tears. Death for black people was far too close, and I developed a deep fear for myself and others. What would happen to me? My friends? My sisters? My brother? Were we all doomed to die at the hands of volatile police officers? I really hoped then we would at least elect a candidate who would ease the turmoil and pain. Someone who would cut through and see the effect of this trauma. Instead, we got a man who is endorsed by David Duke and the KKK. Someone who has called our protests "disgusting" and instead implied that innocent black boys were guilty of a crime they did not commit, just because he thought so. I guess I could give up on that dream.
You know what also scares me? The fact that I am a woman and a sexual assault victim. Electing a man who has been accused of the same things I was subjected to is not only hurtful to me, it makes me feel as helpless as I did when it happened. To legitimately have a man who said such vulgar things as "Grab her by the pussy" take the highest office in our land makes me feel sick to my stomach. What does that tell the man that assaulted me? That this is okay and he'll be fine?
What can you tell me at this point? What do you tell the child who remembers being pulled out of her second grade class in the Bronx that September Tuesday fifteen years ago? That a man who doesn't know the first thing about politics will lead the country for the next four years? What do you tell me, the child of an immigrant, of the inner city with immigrant and LGBT friends? That men who seek to tear them down and silence them have been elected to office? What do I tell the children I taught, whose parents were looking for better lives in the United States? That America is just a vestige of what they thought it was? What do I tell myself about dealing with the anxiety and pain that tomorrow will surely bring?
This is the trauma attached to my being following this election. It was just exacerbated over and over and over by each state that could care less about my life, my fears or progress in general. The United States of America now has a president who has run and won on xenophobia, racism, unpredictability, debt, sexual assault and division. Someone who promised to "make America great again" by restoring the old ways of white supremacy. This election has done more than shake my faith in America. It has terrified me to my core. All the things that make me an American are essentially under attack the moment this man is sworn in, all because of fear of people like me.
America is supposed to be built on progress, on freedom, on liberty and justice. If this is how progress works in America, I don't want it. I do not want progress that goes two steps forward, three steps back. That is not progress. It's stagnation and false promises. If my freedom comes with limits, it is not freedom. It is not what America has come to mean for so many of us. It is a doomsday.
Well, God bless America. It seems we need all we can get.