United we Stand, Divided we Fall: Tomorrow the Fight Continues
Post-Election Anxiety is a reality for people who fear the sexist, racist, xenophobic rhetoric becoming normalized and entering the White House, and took to social media to express anger and disappointment. I’m sorry our political discourse has become so hateful and non-inclusive, perpetuating this false notion of what it means to be an American. But just because you blocked all your conservative friends on Facebook doesn’t magically make them disappear. And it definitely didn’t stop them from showing up to vote. Echo chambers validating our viewpoints become so closed off that it was unfathomable to Hillary supporters that someone would support Trump, and vice versa.
How did we get here? John Oliver discusses contributing factors that led to our president-elect such as misleading polling forecasts breeding complacency, distrust in media and what is fact, a failed candidate who didn’t appeal to white rural and working class voters, and deep racism or indifference to it.
We have to get better at listening and challenging each other, instead of engaging in online conversations that can turn into divisive tactics which can dishearten more than encourage. We must move beyond pointing the finger at certain demographics deemed responsible for electing the president-elect.
While in the midst of post-traumatic election, there is a silver lining. The number of women of color in the U.S. Senate has quadrupled. Until Election Day, Mazie Hirono, a Japanese American representing Hawaii, was the only woman of color in the Senate. Democrat Tammy Duckworth, an Asian woman with Thai and Vietnamese heritage, won the seat in Illinois. Attorney General Kamala Harris, who identifies as both black and Indian-American, won the race in California. And for the first time, Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), a Latina, was elected to serve. While there are 100 seats in the Senate, four is the most significant increase in women of color in any one election.
Further, on the state level, the first openly LGBT politician to be elected governor is Kate Brown in Oregon. And Ihlan Omar became the first Somali-American Muslim woman legislator in American history when she was elected to the Minnesota state legislature. Omar’s family escaped the Somali Civil War, then spent four years in a Kenyan refugee camp before immigrating to the United States.
These women are making some elbow room in the political arena to have their valuable perspectives and experiences taken into account. If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.
As the reality of Trump’s presidency sinks in, Kamala Harris urged the country to stay strong in a speech at Los Angeles. “It is the very nature of this fight for civil rights and justice and equality that whatever gains we make, they will not be permanent. So we must be vigilant,” Harris continued. “Do not despair. Do not be overwhelmed. Do not throw up our hands when it is time to roll up our sleeves and fight for who we are.”
There is not one way we can unite as a community in response to the president-elect. The most important thing is you are doing something. We cannot succumb to slacktivism and limit our contributions to the parameters of social media. Capitol staffer Emily Ellsworth gives advice on how to get your congressional representative’s attention by sending letters and calling the district office. Volunteering and donating to organizations fighting for the rights of our most vulnerable populations is valuable. Many are also organizing at protests to showcase solidarity with marginalized populations and their dissent with Trump’s ideologies.
The movement of American universities fighting back against Trump is on the rise, including but not limited to University of California, Yale, Amherst, Towson University, Florida International University and New York University. Rutgers Student, Sarah Essa writes about the increase of hate crimes against immigrants and people of color. “The FBI released its annual report on Hate Crime Statistics, and attacks against Muslim-Americans have jumped to 67%”, Essa said. Rutgers University students joined a growing movement of students and staged a walkout at 3pm on November 16th for RU Walkout Against Trump, and for a #SanctuaryCampus at Voorhees Mall. I marched with over 2,000 others in New Brunswick as we shouted in solidarity, “No hate, no fear, immigrants are welcome here” and “Love trumps hate.” “On November 16th, we are calling on all students to join the movement to declare their campuses a #SanctuaryCampus and commit to putting our bodies between Trump and undocumented students,” the FIU organizers wrote.
As Michelle Obama said during the Democratic National Convention, “When they go low, we go high.” So what are we doing to “go high?” It is our job to stand together and make sure the government does its job. We must ensure the rights of all are protected, that our government’s policies are fiscally sound and carefully considered and hold public servants accountable so the political revolution will continue. Change does not only happen in the Oval Office. It is up to us to find the places where our skills meet the needs of our community and the world, and to do the hard work to make the quality of life better for all.
I am not usually a glass half full kind of person, but I will not linger in dejection — at least not for long. This election reminds me of Chapter 2 of Henri Bergson’s Creative Evolution, which discusses how animals work instinctually and adapt to tumultuous situations. Consciousness is brought into being by having to confront an obstacle. In other words, necessity is the mother of invention. There are abundant possibilities that always exist, until an obstruction makes it essential to find a solution within or beyond those possibilities. Obstacles, such as this presidential election, allow us to create new possibilities. Without them we would be routinized. I don’t think being hopeful is idealistic. It is not naive to think we can alter our trajectory of American history toward justice, because we have seen our ancestors do that in the face of unimaginable difficulty. As Senator Masto said, “Mañana la lucha sigue”: Tomorrow the fight continues.