Wednesday, November 9th 2016:
It’s raining in New York City today and my subway cart was full of the hopeless hurt, silent as if on their way to a funeral.
I woke up on the couch in the family room of my five-bedroom Manhattan apartment that I share with four other Millennials. I stumbled to the coffee table where I had left my battery operated alarm clock, only to realize silencing it was only half the battle, while our smoke alarm continued to beep warning us of the strain of its old battery.
I shifted my weight between my legs, opened my phone, and held my finger over my BBC News app. I already knew the answer. I had stayed up. But surely, surely people would have realized they made a mistake in the three hours I had been asleep.
Donald Trump elected….
I put my phone down. I didn’t dream it.
Flashback to November 8th. My roommates and some friends had gathered in our apartment. We were eating pizza and popcorn and generally enjoying ourselves.
There’s no way she can’t win.
Confident and restless, we decided to pass some time with a few rounds of “Heads Up.” After all, it was still the 9 o’clock hour. And plus, we weren’t worried.
Actually, we were. That’s why I had suggested we play a round, just to loosen the tensions and remind us that things were going to be just fine. After all, we still had California.
We laughed and shouted and ate more pizza and popcorn. Then, I noticed the screen. Suddenly, it didn’t look as promising.
We drew back to the Electoral College map and a stunned silence fell across the room.
Don’t worry… someone would say… we’ve got this.
Somewhere in the night the dialogue had shifted from being one of “she’ll win that state” to “we’ll win that state.” We were truly all in this together.
One by one, people started to disappear, returning to their own apartments or bedrooms for the night until there were just three of us remaining. I sat on the floor, inches from the screen, hand over my mouth in shock.
There’s so much red… my roommate kept mumbling.
Someone began to pace. Another distracted themselves with their phone. I felt single hot tears gliding across my tired cheeks.
This can’t be happening.
But it was.
And the most heart-wrenching thing was seeing the numbers locked at 244 and 215 with Trump in the lead, knowing Pennsylvania was about to end the race.
I was born in Virginia but raised in Pennsylvania. I have always considered Pennsylvania my home. I’ve lived in New York City since January, but my western Pennsylvania county has always been home. I love Pittsburgh. I love the country side. I love the cornfield behind my house. I have a tremendous amount of pride and respect for where I am from.
Until last night.
My roommate, who grew up 10 minutes down the street from me shook his head vaguely each time the Pennsylvania map showed up.
That’s our home. And it’s gone.
This isn’t a post about politics. This isn’t supposed to be right vs left or red vs blue or republican vs democrat. I want this post to be about humanity.
Last night, almost 60 million people voted for Donald Trump to become the 45th President of the United States of America. As of 2 pm today, Hillary Clinton had received 59,626,052 votes and Trump had received 59,427,652.
Yes, I have an issue with Donald Trump. I do not respect him, agree with him, or understand him at any level. But I have a bigger issue today. I have a bigger issue with the fact that almost 60 million people stood by him.
I have an issue with the fact that Donald Trump attempted to undermine America’s first African American President by insisting that he wasn’t born in this country.
I have an issue with the fact that Donald Trump refused to rent apartments to people of color and then lied about it for months on the campaign trail.
I have an issue with the fact that Donald Trump was not only endorsed by the American Nazi Party and by the Ku Klux Klan but that he also refused (for entirely too long) to denounce Grand Wizard David Duke for the endorsement.
I have an issue with the fact that Donald Trump has repeatedly insulted our military, insisted he would make our servicemen and women take part in illegal torture, and belittled the sacrifices of military families.
I have an issue with the fact that Donald Trump has made racism and Islamophobia mainstream in the way he speaks about Muslim-Americans in our country.
I have an issue with the fact that Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Justice nominee short list includes extremely conservative individuals who would likely fight to overturn something like the Marriage Equality Act. I also have an issue with the fact that his Vice President, Mike Pence is actively against rights for the LGBTQ community and has gone as far as to support horrible practices such as Conversion Therapy, that aims to “treat” people and turn them away from homosexuality.
I have an issue with the fact that Donald Trump views women as objects for his entertainment instead of equal citizens in this country.
I could keep going, but I think I’ve made my point. You see, I have a lot of issues with Donald Trump. But as I said, there’s something that is more painful for me today, than just the actions of a singular man.
I am deeply struggling with the fact that so many people support him. Some of my friends. Some of my family. Some of my neighbors and professors and co-workers. And while I respect everybody’s right to their own opinion and I feel exceptionally blessed to live in a country with a peaceful and democratic voting system, I have been struggling to focus on anything but a deep hurt today.
Maybe you voted for Donald Trump because you’ve always voted Republican. Maybe because you think he needs to shake things up and you don’t want to vote for the Establishment. Maybe you voted for him because you hate Hillary or maybe because you truly believe in his policies and ideas. Maybe you’re voting on the issue of abortion or the issue of national security. Maybe you believe Trump is the best candidate to create new jobs. Maybe when you went to bed last night, you were filled with confidence that you made the right choice on your ballot yesterday morning.
But think of something else. You may have been voting on your beliefs and your party lines, but you missed something bigger. You missed humanity.
You forgot about the minority groups in this country that Trump has repeatedly shamed and shunned. You forgot about the veterans and service members he has disrespected. You forgot about those who live a different lifestyle than you. You forgot about young people. You forgot about the LGBTQ community. You forgot about people of color. You forgot about the disabled. You forgot about women. You forgot about the future.
I should have written this post months ago, but truthfully, I never imagined we would be in this situation. I never thought I would see the state I love turn into shades of hatred.
I understand it’s too late. There’s not much a point to this long-winded post other than to get the pain out of my head and into tangibility. I don’t want to start a fight or stir controversy. I run an organization called The Smile Project and that is not what I’m about.
But today has hit me harder than politics. Today has hit me as a woman in America. And this is so much bigger than we realize.
The statistics are already streaming in with the effects the rhetoric of this campaign has had on individuals who have been sexually assaulted. Studies are already reporting major increases in bullying in the schools, something that has been labeled “The Trump Effect.”
Articles aside, I’ve felt my own heart ache as I scroll through my social media feed. I see my teacher friends post about how their students are asking if they will be kicked out of the country or if they are going to be sent back to Africa. I see my gay friends posting about whether or not they are welcome in our country. I see my Muslim friends fearing for their livelihoods. I see my friends who study political science wondering what it will take to heal our country. I see hurt, pain, anger, shock, and deep, deep grief.
You see, this election was about more than a political agenda…it was about the mindset of a nation. I understand the importance of policies and issues but at some point basic human decency has to override that. And as I sat on the floor at 1:30 in the morning with tears filling my eyes, I realized it hadn’t. Almost 60 million people, almost 60 million people that I co-inhabit this amazing country with had voted against minorities and people of color and Muslims and the LGBTQ community and sexual assault survivors and women in general.
And my heart aches.
It’s raining in New York City today. Nobody was pushing or rushing on the subway platforms this morning. Nobody was dancing along to the saxophone player at the Times Square Subway stop. Nobody was talking or even making eye contact. My co-worker described the atmosphere as comparable to the mood after the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. The city feels grey.
I’ve spent today in silence, with millions of other heart-broken Americans of every race, religion, sexual orientation, and political party.
This morning I felt like I was going to a funeral.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I know I speak for millions of Americans when I say I woke up with a heavy soul this morning. I know I speak for many when I say we feel lost and confused and unsure of what to do next. I don’t have any solutions. In fact, I’m not even sure the best way to take care of myself and the myriad of thoughts and emotions I have running through my mind at every moment.
But I do know one thing.
We are better together. If you’re afraid, reach out. If you’re upset, reach out. If you don’t know how to think, reach out. You are not alone. We are not alone.
I know things may seem incredibly difficult right now. As I walked around my office this morning and saw the pain in my coworkers’ eyes, we both felt the mutual understanding of uncertainty and sadness. But we are not alone.
At this point, there is no reason in engaging in political battles on social media or otherwise. In fact, I’m not even sure if this is an appropriate post to share. The votes are in and Donald Trump will almost certainly be our 45th President. Violence, anger, and terror are not appropriate responses to this fact.
Love is. Kindness is. Happiness is.
On a day where, at least in Manhattan, smiling and laughing seemed criminal, I urge you to keep your head up. Fight the good fight, but fight with charity. Fight with kindness. Fight with acceptance and peace and heart.
We – and I mean all of us – will overcome.