I’m certain that one day my children will ask me what it was like when Donald Trump was elected president. I’ll tell them exactly where I was. On my living room couch, with a hand over my mouth. I”ll tell them how that night I invited friends over for dinner and we bought wine. How the night started off so positively and we thought a woman would finally be president. How we thought we were going to watch history being made. How we watched history being made, but in such disbelief of a history that we couldn’t feel proud of.
I’ll tell them what the essence of the room was like. How my friends felt as they sat next to me, all of us silent. I’ll tell them how that moment changed me and all the relationships in my life. I’ll tell them how it made me question my mere existence and how I lost friendships because of it. I’ll tell them of the great divide that split our country. How I was more nervous being in public and how I could potentially be the victim of a hate crime. I’ll tell them about all the conversations I had with friends and family for hours over the phone. Trying to convince them, and myself, that our rights would not be infringed upon.
LGBTQ friends who were afraid they wouldn’t be able to get legally married anymore and Muslim friends who were afraid that they would have to “register” their religious beliefs on some “watch list.” As if that is even something that can be measured. Friends who worried they would be deported. I’ll tell them about all the time I spent worrying about the safety of this country and about the people I love. I’ll tell them of how I spoke with my family and how the hopelessness in their voices scared me. The hopelessness in the voice of people I always turned to when I was afraid.
I’ll tell them about the looming fear that something bad was always on the brink and how I couldn’t kick that feeling, no matter how hard I tried. I’ll tell them what Facebook was like and Tweets and Instagram posts. How it seemed like nobody could shake the weight of this reality. How this election just did not seem real. I’ll tell them about how I was never more proud to be a woman of color. To be an Arab and to be a Muslim. How I wasn’t even a religious woman but I felt like I had to hold on to my identity for the people who were afraid to.
How it felt to be an “American,” and how a huge part of me didn’t feel American in the least bit. I’ll tell them how it felt to be afraid that my citizenship was questionable and that the level of my “Americanness” was always in the same question. I’ll tell them of what it felt like to realize that maybe my country didn’t truly believe that all men were created equal and how it felt to realize that they certainly didn’t believe that women were considered equal either.
I’ll tell them about the protests I attended. About how it made me feel to do something that I felt I shouldn’t have to do at this point in American history. I’ll tell them how happy I was to fight for something, to fight for myself, but also how sad I was that years of progression had somehow turned into regression and I didn’t know why. I’ll tell them how I couldn’t wrap my head around any of it and about how I tried to distract myself with meaningless television and memes but how it never worked. I’ll tell them about how the only thing that made me feel better was to do something, to say something and to volunteer my time.
I’ll tell them that even though I was so afraid, I tried to see hope. I saw a dialogue happening and I saw a society distracted from distractions. I saw a movement form and I saw it spread like wildfire. I saw what was once a society with the attention span of a two-year-old transform overnight.
I’ll tell them how I prayed this movement would last. How I saw people organize and how I saw people stand up for each other. Something that I only thought was a part of prior movements. Movements that I thought our generation would never see the likes of. Movements that I wasn’t sure my generation was capable of and movements that I hoped we could live up to.
It was a strange time. A time when technology ruled us and we had to choose between being the people we thought we should be and the people we knew we were. We were confused, but we fought. We fought for what was right. We fought for what we believed in. We fought for the rights of our brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors. We fought for ourselves. We refused to back down. We knew there were sacrifices that we needed to make and we learned that sacrifices weren’t something we were used to. We picked up a sign. A pen. A paper. We picked ourselves up and each other and we moved forward.
I hope I can tell them we fought like hell, and we won the good fight. I hope I can tell them we fought for them and for their rights. I hope I can tell them that we read. We listened. We wrote. We organized.