I am American.
I was raised middle class.
I am able-bodied and healthy.
I am Christian.
I am heterosexual.
I am cisgender.
I am light-skinned.
I speak perfect English.
I work and have some disposable income.
I have health care.
I have a four-year college degree, and I’m still pursuing higher education.
I have substantial knowledge of social sciences and world systems.
I have access to resources if I need more knowledge and information.
I have traveled to other countries, regions, states, cities, and small towns.
I have lived in three large and diverse cities/suburbs, and I currently live in a large metropolitan city.
I have loving, supportive, and communicative immediate family members and friends.
I have very quiet, hidden, or no Trump supporters on my social media accounts.
Before breaking down from my personal frustrations over the 2016 Presidential Election results, I needed to recognize the list above. These are my privileges living in America today. I think it’s important that we each recognize our own individual privileges before having a complete mental and emotional collapse, whether you are one of my radically liberal friends, predictably Democrat, exhaustingly Libertarian, or a closeted Conservative. I also consider being Filipino, Asian, and a woman a privilege, although these are also groups who have been historically oppressed in American and world history in general. But let’s continue.
You may feel ready to fight. I do too. That being said, I plan to fight the battles that lay themselves at my feet, instead of actively seeking them. I don’t say this to denounce protesting. I am a strong believer in our right to protest, and seeing the coverage of the peaceful protest in Los Angeles last Saturday on Wilshire truly filled my heart with pride for my amazing home and birthplace. I will say, that as I lay in bed early Wednesday morning after the election, I quietly sobbed and wished for nothing more than to be home in Long Beach, on my couch, with my family.
I want to first encourage those of you who are grieving over the newly elected candidates to first, take care of yourselves, which is why I mention to choose these battles thoughtfully. We are all each individual people first, and it has been easy to get lost in the swarm of angry posts flooding our respective news-feeds; to drown in disgust and frustration. Secondly, I need you all to acknowledge the role that different types of news and media have played to heighten divisiveness this election season. Each of us would benefit to step away from our phones and computer screens, to self-reflect, and come up with a list of personal priorities for the work ahead. But self-love and self-care first, because you have value as a leader or change-maker in your community. On the days immediately following Tuesday’s election, I could not bear to look and read the frustrations coming from social media accounts—news coverage about a woman in a hijab being doused with gasoline; or the viral video of children in school chanting “Build That Wall!” to their brown or black classmates in a school cafeteria; or the post about a 10-year-old girl being grabbed by her vagina by a classmate. I could not bear to look, so I shut off my phone and went on with my week because work and class were calling. And I guess that is a privilege too.
I will say, though, we should not feel ashamed of our privileges, and instead, use them as leverage in understanding how to be useful for others who do not have the same. This said, I want to take the time to address the people who are telling their Facebook friends to “stop complaining” or “quit crying” or saying that “protesting is pointless.” I respect different political views, and if you voted for a third party, I do not condemn you. We live in America, and the beauty of that is we each have the freedom to take part in our political process however way we choose. With that being said, you urging people to stop complaining about the election results adds just as much nonsense that has come out of this mess of an election season. You truly show your ignorance and basic lack of understanding for other Americans’ daily struggles and life struggles. You are more concerned with being heard over your friends, that you instead choose to discredit the thousands of traumatizing and even physically violent hate crimes that have spiked across our country in the last two weeks. You have no idea what others go through, even when they scream it at the top of their lungs. Take the time to acknowledge the privileges you are afforded in your community and in our general society—and share it with your buddies because most of you who are saying these things are rich, white males (and I’ll say it, hysterically all former water polo players). Yeah.
So what now? As more news comes in about actual White Nationalists being part of the new presidential administration, it’s difficult to say what the next steps are for the average person just trying to get through their workday. I also say, “the average person” with a grain of salt, seeing as though they are average people who have now been called out and harassed by radicalized right-wingers, islamophobes, anti-Semites, sexual predators, homophobes, and those good ol’ fashioned, unyielding racists. This will continue to affect Americans (no matter where you live), so I am calling every liberal friend, every third-party voter, and everyone who voted for a Republican ticket and reads this, to contribute to peacemaking in your communities: in your workplace, at your school, or in a religious organization with which you’re associated. We each have to prepare ourselves to stand up to violence and oppressive actions; to know how to diffuse potentially violent situations that may unfold before us.
I am lucky to know a lot of people who do community work—who are educators, work for the government, work in some type of public service, or spend time volunteering. The brunt of the work ahead will be on our shoulders, and I stand with you and support you and love you for contributing to justice and peace in our very broken world. Some of you may know that I was initially a Bernie supporter, and internally struggled for the last several months about who I would allow my conscience to vote for. After it was settled that Donald won the election, aside from the original numbness, fear, and sadness that overwhelmed me, there was also a moment of empowerment that overcame me as well. Hillary is a career politician who understands the endless complexities of the system and office for which she was campaigning, and she should have had this one in the bag. But she didn’t. The other ticket won because people showed up for their candidate. And without going too deep into the electoral college conversation, what should have been a no-brainer choice between a law-school educated, lifelong government leader and an inarticulate hotel manager and internet troll—no matter what your politics—the victor won because he emboldened his followers and they showed up for him. There is such a thing called People Power, and I choose that over everything. I will fight for my love of people whose only wish is justice in an unjust world. I will fight for that every day and in any way that I can; as a graduate student, as a non-profit worker, as a millennial, as a consumer, as a Seventh-day Adventist, as a woman of color, as a Californian, as a 100% born-and-bred American.
To those who think differently than me, you are not my enemy. But I have peace knowing that I would lay down my life tomorrow if it meant standing up for what I believe in. To those who agree with my ideas, I don’t say this to ask you all to be martyrs as we continue to fight for marginalized people. I say this because I also wish you peace.
We will not be silent. We have power in numbers. We can take care of each other. We must relentlessly stand up for what is right.