There is one good thing that came out of the 2016 election…
I know. Another post about the 2016 election. I’m just as sick and tired about it as you probably are, yet here we both find ourselves, reading yet another opinion and take about the worst election in US history.
The results of the 2016 election took me by complete surprise. I live in New York City: a sanctuary city, one of America’s biggest melting pot, and the home to both candidates. Despite New York City’s completely liberal and one-sided coverage of the election, on top of that, I’m interning in one of the most liberal environments of the world — late night TV. With co-workers who share the same thoughts, values, and political takes as I, I was surrounded by Democrats and liberals who constantly reassured me blue would overpower red. But we all now know that was just a fairytale we were living in our little office on Broadway.
Trump’s victory was heartbreaking and incomprehensible for me, a female US-born Asian-American millennial. What scared me the most wasn’t the fact that Trump would be taking one of the highest positions of office in the world, but that there were millions of fellow Americans who thought like him and believed in his approaches to societal issues prevalent today.
As you could imagine at a Late Night office, the Wednesday after the results showed Trump had won majority of the electoral college and Hillary had won the popular vote, the environment was bleak, somber, and just down-right depressing. My supervisors and co-workers comforted me as a minority and emails and speeches of “healing division,” “unity,” “working together more than ever,” and “moving forward” flooded my inbox.
That is when it hit me. If there’s anything good that came out of this crazy 2016 election, it was this: we were finally really talking about diversity. It’s only in recent years that people are talking more and more about race publicly. People are becoming more aware of the issues minorities face and what white privilege means and is. In modern terms, people are slowly becoming ‘woke.’ But to my white American friends, I must ask you a question.
We talk about change, acceptance, unity, and inclusive diversity, but what are we doing in our inner circles and companies to implement this too? What are we doing to make this not just a value, a thought, an idea, but reality that’s tangible, seeable?
It may take some of you by surprise, but even in the most liberal office setting of late night TV, microaggressions exist. To this day, I still get confused for my other Asian-American colleague despite us having different hair and completely different physical attributes. Diversifying the office is still an issue today and Hollywood So White is not a media hyperbole, but something I and many other minorities witness everyday.
Hollywood personnel, I need to remind you that diversity does not mean filling up a quota. Representation on screen is a good first step, I agree, but what is the benefit of seeing a black man on screen playing a stereotypical role that degrades him and the race he’s representing? What’s the point of hiring a non-white writer on staff just to fill a quota, and having them create content that is still white?
Last week, my heart was again disheartened when I heard one of the few white men I admired in the office was leaving after working there for 11 years. He was not only woke and an ally for us minorities in the office, but also the one man who worked to create change. Through him, the office was no longer 100% white and his office was always a safe space for me. I would find myself choking up whenever I talked about the frustrations of working for a progressive show that was not as progressive behind the scenes. And it broke my heart even more when he said he did his best, but clearly it wasn’t enough.
With Trump’s win, artists have come together to encourage fellow Americans to have hope, work harder than ever, and to come together. “It’s time to get to work” has been said over multiple media platforms and I agree. America, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and work towards equality. Racial equality, female rights, and LGBTQ rights has never been a governmental problem. It is not just an issue for political candidates to address. It is everyone’s problem. We all must work within our inner circles to create change.
Minorities in America are slowly finding their voice and becoming confident proclaiming it, but we must remember we cannot do it alone. We must create new platforms for our voices to be heard, but we must also work with our white friends and colleagues to change the environment in already existing mediums.
Others say it’s time to go to work, but I say we’ve already been working. It’s time now to show that work, present it, and then go back to working, this time with others too.