November 9, 2016
I woke up at 6:00, an hour and a half earlier than when I typically open my eyes. It could’ve been because my family was being extra loud that morning, but it wasn’t. My house was dark. I was the first one up. It took less than a second for me to remember why my anxious body woke me at such an unseemly hour. I became more awake than ever as the knots in my stomach were telling me to go back to sleep, hurry! shut your eyes, quickly! I forced myself to ignore their foreshadowing feeling, got up, and crossed the bedroom in two fast strides.
I picked up my phone from where it lay charging and shakingly typed in a question to Google: who won the 2016 election? The answers popped up before I was done typing the last word. All the headlines contained some mix of “surprise victory” and “what happened,” but the only word I was seeing was TRUMP. I sat down. Looked at my phone again. Refreshed the page. TRUMP.
Fear coursed through my body as I thought about what this “surprise victory” meant for America. I was shocked, but not as much as I should’ve been. Deep down, we had all seen this coming for months. The first thing my hysterical 13-year-old brain thought of was: all my friends in minority groups are going to be kicked out. Then: I’m a girl, is gender equality going to worsen? And finally: we’re all going to end up in World War 3.
I began to cry as I heard my mom wake up and check the TV for the same news I had already received. Once she got it, I listened as her footsteps running to her bedroom intertwined with her soft sobs that were shaking Americans everywhere.
In two months time, America would have a new president: the bigoted Donald Trump.
January 20, 2017 (2 years ago today)
My tears had gone with November, but the tremor I felt for my country remained. It had been over two months since the election and each day our hope had drained a little more as to whether or not we could get rid of Trump before he even took office. No such luck was found. Despite the racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, homophobic, and prejudiced bombshells released in the media and released from Trump’s mouth, inauguration day had arrived right on time and with no highly hoped for changes.
It was a Friday, so I sat through school and listened angrily as many of my peers shouted “Make america great again!” and “Build the wall!” Of course, I chastised them and spouted my liberal beliefs, but to no avail. My chanting peers already knew they had won at least for today; their pride and joy Donald Trump was being inaugurated as we spoke.
I came home and made sure not to touch the TV, I was too drained to do so anyway. For the first time in a very long time, I wrote a poem. The tears I thought had gone rushed back and you can still see where they fell on the original pages of the poem. I had no idea what Trump’s presidency meant for America, all I knew was that it promoted hate. In the poem, I touched on Trump’s promises like building a wall along the US Southern border and enacting a Muslim ban as well as the fears I felt for women’s rights, LGBTQ+ rights, and minority rights. I’ll let you read it for yourself:
THE ENEMY ISN’T THEM
Her tears are for the world
and the dark hands that grip it,
For the women and the foul soul
who looks to strip them,
For those who are halted for their moralsand creed
from entering a land once promised to be.
Her tears are for minority in a place
where more fortunate majority rules,
For those limitless in their living andlove
yet are frowned upon by those above.
Her tears, they are for the children,
who have begun to think it’s okay
to view life through a lens of hate.
The enemy isn’t them,
but an awful power from within.
January 20, 2019 (today)
I cannot tell you how many times I have gone back and reread this poem, only to have the feeling of election and inauguration day wash over me once again. It hurts, but something I have now that I didn’t have then is hope.
Over the past two years, disgusting and awful things have occurred like the Family Separation Crisis, a temporary Muslim ban, a Supreme Court justice with sexual assault allegations, and a government shutdown that is reaching its 30th day today. However, none of these things have passed by without a tremendous outcry from Americans. Calling and writing representatives has increased, hundreds of protests and marches have been organized, social media has been flooded with messages of resistance, and all this is happening in the name of dissent.
Also, these past two years has taught me that I have privilege as a white cisgender woman. Those with less privilege than me have faced worse in America and under Trump’s presidency. It is vital for me to use my privilege to dissent and educate others on important issues, but also know when to step back and give the spotlight to those directly affected by the issues.
As the country has lost to hate and bigotry time and time again, we all have learned how to use our voices and platforms to lift up what it right and what should be done. A day does not go by where I am not scared for our country and the path it is on, but along with the fear now comes hope that our country can be changed for the better.
After all, this past November over 100 women were voted into the House of Representatives. Congress had the first two Muslim women and the first two Native American women voted in and two of the youngest women at age 29 voted in as well. Massachusetts and Connecticut voted in their first two black women to Congress and South Dakota and Maine voted in their first female governors. Also, Colorado elected the first ever openly gay man governor in America.
Small progress is better than no progress.