I spent the afternoon of November 9 in varying states of denial, confusion, frustration, and distress. I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that the American people elected a man who repeatedly attacked women, Muslims, African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, POW, among other minority groups, throughout his unprecedented campaign. Before I could truly comprehend what was going on, tears pouring and damp tissues carelessly littered around my desk, I witnessed him in front of a sea of red hats accepting the next Presidency of the United States.
I understand that Hillary Clinton was not the ideal candidate for many people. However, there is no denying the profound influence she had on millions of girls like me. I spent the night before the election in giddy excitement, counting down the hours until I was to witness a woman make history. A little less than a century after women were allowed to vote, a female was nominated as a major political party’s candidate and continued to win the popular vote of the Presidential Election with over 64 million votes and by a 1.4% margin (as of Nov. 27). This proved to me that women could do anything by fighting against misogynistic hurdles.
But she couldn’t break that highest and hardest glass ceiling.
Secretary Clinton’s concession speech broke my heart: “To all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and to achieve your own dreams.” This poignant reminder was a chilling reflection of the perception and treatment of women. We shouldn’t ever have to doubt our value and power; yet in this state of our nation, too many of us are forced to.
In this election, perhaps misogyny won. Maybe, it was the deep-rooted racism and intolerance that won. It might have been the fear of foreigners, the fear of progressive change that won.
If anything, this election has brought to light how divisive America is. Differences need to be cherished, not used as a political prop to pit people against one another.
I watch both peaceful and unfortunately, violent, protests unfold across the country. I hear about Muslim women being afraid to wear their hijabs in public. I see pictures of white supremacist graffiti in public. I read about ethnically foreign Americans being taunted to “go back to their country”.
It is easy to point fingers and scapegoat. It takes little effort to promote hate and alienate those that we feel “don’t belong”. On the other hand, it takes patience, effort, and empathy to fight for tolerance and respect. In a broad nation cradling millions of dreams, I am confident that acceptance will prevail. Perhaps America thought it was too soon to see so much diversity and love. But I know the day when love trumps hate will come.
To those outside of the United States: this is not what America stands for. The majority of voters chose candidates that were not the President-elect. We know and believe in the power of love and compassion.
To all of the women and minorities who are terrified right now: I stand in solidarity with you. As a biracial teenage girl, I am scared, too; so many of us have become the victims of this despicable election. I have never been so aware of “what I am”–Asian, Caucasian, and female–and how these factors would affect my life in America. But we must not let terrorizing intimidation triumph. They are powerful forces, but we cannot let our fears and frustrations define who we are.
Instead of focusing on what makes us so different, we should spend our time building on what we share in common. If we make it clear that we stand for peace, happiness, and love, we can unite beyond our political affiliations and achieve so much. We’re all human, and deserve to be treated equally, and that can only happen if we set aside our differences and put our heads together to make the world a better place.
Whether we like it or not, this is what happens in a democracy; sometimes we “win”, and sometimes we “lose”. Unfortunately, I wasn’t old enough vote; I had to sit on the sidelines while other people decided on my future. However, this frustration of being unable to participate in the political process has inspired me to go and vote when I’m 18–making sure that my voice is heard.
The First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the freedom of religion, speech, the press, and peaceful assemblies. Use these, and make sure your voice is heard. We cannot afford to be silent. Don’t be afraid to speak up and tell the world what you believe in. Don’t be afraid to champion peace, justice, and equality. The way to instigate change is to be change.
I will never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It will always be worth it.