I don’t want to be writing this, and I didn’t see myself writing this a few days ago.
A few days ago, I predicted myself writing about Hillary Clinton being the 45th president of the United States of America. I wouldn’t have been particularly ecstatic about her as a person, but I would’ve been extremely relieved that we, as a nation, dodged a bullet. I also wouldn’t have been particularly ecstatic knowing that there are millions of people in this country who allowed things to get this bad, who supported Donald Trump and almost took him to the White House.
But now, I’m writing about the fact that they did elect him. It’s not an “almost,” it’s not a “what if,” it’s not a hypothetical situation that makes for a funny meme, it is real life. It is the most surreal and frightening situation I could’ve ever imagined to result from the 2016 presidential election. This is where he are. He is the president.
But he’s not my president.
No, he’s the president of white men and white women. He’s the president of the privileged. He’s the president of the able-bodied, Christians, of the upper middle class, of the cishet. Those are the people who elected him and those are the people rejoicing. Those aren’t the people who are looking at the picture below and feeling something strange in their hearts, an emptiness that seems to expand and deepen as the reality of this situation begins to settle.
He is their president, not ours. Not mine. Right now, as far as I’m concerned, there is no president of the United States. There is no one in government who represents me. There is no one in government who thinks my life matters. Of course, there are individual people, but as a whole, their opinions don’t matter. Their opinions didn’t win last night, hate won.
I am not going to let hate win. I know that I won’t. I know that I came to this planet for a specific reason, to accomplish a specific reason, and I’ll be damned if I let any oppressor of any kind stand in my way or fool me into believing that I have no power. I do have power. I know that I can overcome this. That’s not the problem—the problem here isn’t knowing that I can overcome, but it is mustering up the strength and courage to begin the process. I am not going to let hate win, but for right now I can’t do anything about it. For right now, I feel hurt. I feel dejected. I know that I won’t always feel this way—I can’t afford to always feel this way—but right now I’m in the earliest stages of healing and I’m allowing myself to hurt. I’m allowing myself to be afraid. I’m allowing myself to cry.
This is the first presidential election that I’ve paid serious, close attention to. I was too young before, but now I’ve been researching candidates, having informed opinions, paying attention to the timeline. I’ve learned about the way that things work. It’s disheartening that this is the outcome. I’m still too young to vote but I’m old enough to make informed decisions, so in a sense, this is my first election. It’s disheartening that this is the result of my first election, that the country I live in has been exposed as having a hateful majority. It hurts. It causes me to wonder what lies ahead. What is my future in this country? How do I even picture adulthood in this nation? What am I to do? How can I possibly fix this?
There are two options for my emotions right now. My mind is telling me that I can completely disregard Donald J. Trump as the president of this nation. I can reject his presidency. I can tell myself that I’m not accepting it; I’m not accepting him as president and I’m not accepting Republican majorities in Congress and I’m not accepting the next Supreme Court justice. I can tell myself that I’m not accepting three branches of hate and oppression.
Or, I can reject myself as part of this country. I can tell myself that America never really wanted me anyway. They stole me and treated me as property and has been gradually feeding me my basic human rights and marketing it as “progress.” I can remove myself from this nation. I can say that the racists can have this country and detach myself from it.
But my heart knows that neither of those options are healthy. My heart knows what it takes to heal and it’s telling me that there is another way. But what is it?
How do I heal when I know that America is split in two, and the America that hates me is the America that won?
How do I heal when I know that 6.1 million people, mostly black and brown, were not able to vote in this election because of mass incarceration?
How do I heal when I know that even if Hillary Clinton did win, our president would still be someone who contributed to a system that oppresses black people?
How do I heal when I know that KKK uprisings are taking place across the country and people are calling for the death of President Obama and all black people? How do I heal when I’m seeing levels of hatred that I thought had died out before I was born?
How do I heal when I know that elementary school children are beginning to bully each other using the same hateful rhetoric that Donald Trump uses? How do I heal and look toward a brighter future after conservative America dies out when the youth is already being affected by the hatred?
How do I heal when I know that people of color and third party voters are being blamed for Trump’s victory and we’re ignoring the fact that white America was reborn and unified through racism and xenophobia?
How do I heal when I know that over 900 people have been killed by police this year, mostly Native American and Black, and that the people who support Trump don’t care about this problem?
How do I heal when I know that the lives of LGBTQ+ people, black people, people of color, Muslim people, disabled people, women, and poor people are at risk?
How do I heal?
My heart knows how. So does yours. All of our hearts can heal. They were made to heal. You were made to endure. We’ve gone through this too many times before. But this is not the time to be discouraged. Despite the name of our magazine, this is not the time to be jaded. This is the time to rise up. I am not telling you to organize and act right now, because like I said, even I need time to process this. To heal. But after we’ve done that, we need to come together and change this. Right now, all we have is each other. We can use each other to combat this. A Trump presidency is not the end of the world and it does not take away your strength and power. Please do not let it. Please do not let it take away your power, or your life. I am here for you. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, millions of people are here for you. Millions of people love you. With each other, we are safe. That’s all that matters. We all matter.
Don’t ever let them tell you otherwise.