On Wednesday, I woke up to social media posts by my friends and classmates of Barnard College and Columbia University: they were filled with hate, fear, and vulgar language. The response to the results of the 2016 presidential election sicken me, beyond personal political preferences, beyond Hillary vs. Trump, beyond arguments blaming the independent voters for Clinton’s loss.
They sicken me as an American citizen.
Born in America as a lower class, Hispanic and Spanish woman, with recurring, sometimes disabling chronic illness, I represent one voice of the minority. It saddened me to wake up and see my classmates limiting the conversation to minorities and showing anger to white Americans, rich Americans, and Trump voters (especially Latinx Trump supporters).
This was the election for America’s new president, not solely the minorities’, not the lower or middle class’, everyone’s president. Yes, this includes the “silent” Trump voters and those who emerged from rural areas, eager to share their opinion and change the course of the nation.
As Americans, we need to stop attacking our fellow people. If the country’s events, tragedies, and horrifying stories of the past few months show us anything, it is that we need unity now more than ever. We do not need more violence. We do not need anger in the streets causing people to be afraid to say they voted Republican or Independent or whichever party won your vote. We do not need to push the voters who already label themselves as the “forgotten” people of America further into the shadows.
This is a time to hear each citizen’s voice, whether you agree with it or not, whether it makes you angry or happy or scared. This is a time to discuss, to be strong, to plan the next four years of the greatest country in the world. Certainly, as the election has shown, this is a time for change.
We do not need to flee the country; that path never even crossed my mind. America will be strong and will come together. And most importantly, we will remember we are a democracy, not a dictatorship. Electing Donald Trump does not give him the power to change laws and deport citizens and build walls at his whim, no matter the majority of the House and the Senate.
Donald Trump will neither ruin women’s rights, reproductive or otherwise, nor will he repeal LGBTQ+ rights, because we, as citizens, will not let him. We as Americans need to remember we have the power.
The race to this election was all about our voices being heard, and if yours was not heard, keep speaking. Keep fighting for the rights you want, the rights you want to keep and the rights we should have collectively as Americans. Speak for your cause, your identity, and how you as a person should be equal in our government. Fight, but do not create negativity and violence.
Instead of writing long, argumentative, fearful Facebook statuses, donate to Planned Parenthood. Post links to the many LGBTQ+ organizations around the country. Share the articles and documentaries about what we as citizens can do now to help the environment. Note what you are afraid to lose in January and support it with all your might before anything begins to change. Turn the anger and terror into action, not violence.
Spend your time volunteering for your community, helping and talking to those who perhaps didn’t get the chance to vote in this monumental election. See what they have to say and think about their words. Give the unheard a voice through your actions.
Stop the hate. Stop the chants, the burning of Trump clothing and the American flag. Show yourself and your peers what you want America to look like through actions of kindness and strength. Create positivity and have faith in the government structure that has led the United States since its inception. As Obama so eloquently spoke, this is about patriotism.
We, the people have chosen our president, now it’s time to choose who we are as American citizens.
Will you be a patriot?