When Donald Trump first announced his bid for presidency in 2015, I saw it as a joke. My friends and I laughed at the thought of Trump ever becoming president. But now it’s our reality.
Other than a couple retweets and a few conversations with friends and colleagues, I’ve kept silent on Trump’s election. I was going to remain quiet, but considering this is our reality for the next four years, I realized that this is not the time to be silent.
And I’m speaking out the best way I know how – with my words.
I was still in class when polls started to close on the east coast and I was anxious to see how America was voting.
I wasn’t surprised when I saw the numbers for the first time. Trump was leading in electoral college votes, but those were from predominantly red states. The night was young and we still had a long way to go.
At the start of the day, I thought there was no way Trump would be triumphant. Hillary had this in the bag.
I do think it’s important to note that I am not Hillary Clinton’s biggest fan either. I didn’t think she was the best candidate for the job, but she was who America elected to be the Democratic nominee. I respected that and I respect her. I stood with her. I still stand with her. I will continue to stand with her.
But about 15 to 20 states in, I started to worry. I could not believe what I was seeing. The map before my eyes was being painted red. I still had hope, but I could feel my anxiety rising.
I was on assignment for my college newspaper covering a city council candidate’s campaign party when I got the news that Trump won Ohio and Florida. Even with California and its 55 electoral votes, I knew it was over. Hillary had no chance of winning.
That’s when my anxiety kicked in. The worst attack I’ve had in years. I couldn’t breathe. I sat in a corner and tried to control my breathing. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe what was about to happen.
I was back in the newsroom when I got word that Hillary conceded the race. I, we, were angry. Sad. Confused. Heartbroken. But most importantly, we were scared.
It was about 1 a.m. when I got home. Before I went to bed, I looked on social media to see how the country reacted. I saw some family and friends celebrate Trump’s win, but a majority of my feeds were filled with disbelief, anger, disgust, annoyance, hatred and fear.
I liked and retweeted some posts, but I decided I was not in the right state of mind to share my own opinions, so I kept quiet and planned to stay quiet for some time.
I went to sleep hoping Ashton Kutcher would tell America in the morning that we’d just been Punk’d.
President Obama was right when he said the sun will rise again in the morning, because it did and our world was still intact. It was no different from any other morning. I participated in TASTE, a mentor/mentee and networking event Fresno State’s MCJ Department hosts yearly, and went about my day.
That changed when my best friend called to check up on me. He knew how closely I followed the presidential election and how much it meant to me.
I told him I was disappointed and embarrassed in America’s choice. Then he asked if I was scared.
And it hit me.
It finally hit me that it was not like any other morning.
America had elected a racist, sexist, misogynistic, homophobic and xenophobic white supremacist as the leader of the free world – among other horrible, deplorable things.
I pulled over, sat in my car and I cried to him.
And I cried for Hillary Clinton, who dedicated her entire career to get to where she is today, only to be defeated by someone who feeds on hate.
I cried for the women who thought they would finally see a woman with the credentials get the job, only to lose it to a reality TV star.
I cried for the victims who will have a president who likes to grab women “by the pussy,” as Trump himself admitted while on the set of “Access Hollywood” in 2005, and thinks it’s okay because of his celebrity.
I cried for the women, the Muslims and blacks, the Mexicans and the minorities, the LGBTQ+ community, the undocumented and the refugees – among others – who now have to take extra precautions when in public.
I cried for the parents who have to explain to their sons and daughters why someone like Trump is now their president.
I cried for the children who will be raised in an era of Donald Trump.
I cried for the violence, the harassment and the bullying that have taken, and will take, place in the coming days.
I even cried for the people who have been blinded by Trump’s ideology of what makes America great and for those who cannot find it within themselves to have sympathy for people and the dangers they are about to face.
And as a bisexual person of color, I cried for myself. I finally felt comfortable enough to accept the person I am, but now I feel like I have to return to a place I had no intentions of ever going back to. Part of me fears to be the person I have grown to love and part of me is scared to be with the person I love.
But I live in a community that makes me feel safe. I know that I will get back home safe each night. At least I hope I will.
But I know that that’s not the case for everybody and that does not sit well with me.
We have fought way too hard and way too long for the rights we have now. We cannot go back.
So, Trump – I do want to congratulate you.
Congratulations on somehow managing to fool folks that you’re the right candidate for this job, even with your lack of political experience, and get enough votes (electoral votes, anyway; Hillary beat you in popular votes) to win.
The day after the election, I read dozens of hate and harassment stories that your supporters have unleashed on the innocent. Just one day.
You may have won the presidency, but you are not my president and you never will be.
I love my country way too much to just give up and move on. Instead of moving to Canada, let’s stay and stand in solidarity together.
We cannot give in to fear, hatred and bigotry. We need to get more involved, not less.
We need to use our voices and power for change. Rally together and protest (peacefully, please).
We must fight for our country – what it really stands for – and move forward.
We must protect each other from the hate and the violence heading our way.
Don’t stand idly by. We cannot give up just because Trump won. We can’t.
Love trumps hate. Together, we can make a difference.
And to the folks who are afraid, know that you are not alone. I stand with you. To the folks who have already experienced the hatred Trump brought out in people, I am so sorry you had to go through that. I stand with you.
To everyone who refuses to accept our current circumstances, we need to unite – not divide. We need to come together and fight to make our country a place where everyone is safe and no one is “other”. We must work together to ensure a better future during and after Trump.
Because after the next four years, we really will need to make America great again.