When Cody and I told people we were moving to Thailand, we joked about this. We laughed at the prospect of returning to a Trump presidency and boarded our plane, thinking that in a year we’d be back to more or less the same nation. Now, however, the people we held as we left are telling us we “got out” just in time. To not come home. “It’s all went to hell here.”
While it would be easy to stay 8,000 miles away from the fire, I don’t think I can. I am, instead, overwhelmed with the need to fight it as best as I am able.
I am 24 years old and educated. I am a white, straight, cisgender female. I own nothing and owe nothing in the eyes of the government. Compared to many, those definitions give me great privilege in America. This means I could slide through the next four years if I kept my voice down, but silence is not my answer. It cannot be. Fear is running through those I love, and I will not run from their cries. I will not run from this.
When I imagine my country, I still see the open lands of the West and the striking testament each mountain makes. I still see the varied faces of people proud to be there, proud to have a say in how their world progresses. I still see people looking for the good in our nation. It is there. It is within us.
The good within me knows that not all Trump supporters are painting racial slurs on neighbors’ cars or telling strangers to “watch their backs” because they don’t belong. Only a portion of those who voted for him are intimidating our minorities, just as a fraction of Clinton voters are burning flags and rioting. The “other side” is not entirely evil or wrong, but the hate fueling this outrage is.
I understand that both sides are angry. I understand that both sides are afraid. I understand that both sides want change.
But it does us no good in the form of hate, whether your candidate won or not.
We must unite, but not without first speaking up against injustices. We must accept this election while also accepting and defending the rights of all Americans.
Some look and love and live differently than you. Some have been here longer, and some have just arrived. Some need help and some give it.
But not a single person in this country deserves to feel afraid because they chose a different path, or were born under different circumstances, than what you’ve experienced.
Rural Americans are not racists. Muslim Americans are not terrorists. Americans are not the brawling, non-communicative infants the rest of the world has been watching for the last few days, weeks, months. We are better than that.
We are leaders and models for this world, and I hope we can show them we are worthy of respect not because of our power, but because we saved ourselves from it.
We won’t “move on” from this—but we must move forward. Together.
P.S. There are many articles out there at the moment speaking about the “other side” and the behaviors surrounding this election. This article in particular helped me see why my home town voted for Trump. I was also impressed with this article, which describes what’s at stake if Democrats go quiet.
If you feel that I’ve missed something, I would love connect in a mature conversation that helps me understand more of your perspective on this outcome.
PHOTO CREDIT: Andrew Harnik, AP