The American people, indeed the entire universe, have been in a state of shock and mourning since Donald Trump's apparent presidential election victory. I have never felt such despondency in my entire 23 years. My sister has been crying, my Mexican-American mother has been walking around the house cursing and my Arab-American father jokes that he will throw food over the wall for us, if he doesn't get sent "back to where he came from" (Cedar Rapids, Iowa?). Many of my Caucasian coworkers have been trapped in in a state of confusion and my more liberal-leaning friends have been distraught.
In my particular case, being half Mexican, half Lebanese, and identifying as a Muslim woman, I feel personally targeted from every possible angle. Trump speaks of building a wall to alienate Mexicans, creating a registry to monitor Muslims and through his rhetoric holds women in the absolute lowest esteem, and now he talks about unifying our country? How could he utter the word 'unity' after all of the division he created? Trump alienated our Hispanic population, Muslim population, Asian population, black population and women, and Vice President Pence has long ago alienated the LGBT community. Now Trump supporters are offended that a sizable percentage of the population do not consider Trump our president?
Deep down, I know that Trump, himself, is not the immediate threat; there is no logical way that a wall can be built on Mexico's penny, there will not be a ban on all Muslims (half of Trumps clients are Middle Eastern Muslims) and his misogynistic tendencies are, sadly, not that uncommon in our society. Rather, my true fear lies in the racist and sexist populace that seems to have been emboldened by his rise to power. We thought racism in our country had been almost eradicated, but the recent election proved that this is far from the case. While Trump stirred the pot, exposing one of America's darker faces, this dark side of American society has clearly been there all along. I feel I have lost my place in America, not because of Trump's campaign rants alone, but because of the hidden feelings among many of our fellow citizens, the true dislike of those different from the mainstream - ethnic, religious and racial minorities included. Our minority citizens are not being seen as human beings by the American majority, rather they are being vilified and stereotyped as threats to an even greater extent than before.
Recent events have brought this alarming trend to light. Across the nation people have been harassed in schools, busses, workplaces and on public sidewalks for wearing the Muslim hijab or for simply being black, Asian or Hispanic. Trump supporters have taken his election victory as a green light to treat their fellow Americans as objects, exposing the true, bigoted colors of many.
Yet Trump is still asking us to come together - a seemingly impossible task. First, it does not seem reasonable that his backers would allow such a thing. Second, the damage has likely been done and the separation among us so deeply engrained that some serious bridge-building on behalf of the Trump organization will have to occur before any minority support is forthcoming.
But I have faith. This is where an outside force for unity can step in. As millennials we have had a pretty easy political ride; Obama was cool and before that most of us were too young to understand the political world. Racism was nearly dead and sexism was diminishing, or so we thought. But now we are gazing into the abyss and before we let the monster inside gaze into us, we may have an opportunity to destroy it. I mean, that is what a democracy is all about, right? The ability to change what we do not approve of? My Mexican and Lebanese descendants did not struggle their entire lives for their children and grandchildren to be treated like lesser citizens, and I, for one, am not going to concede without a fight.
Behind the sobs and fear that we are in political and social hell, I am starting to believe that such a wake-up call may be a good thing. We millennials may be scared and confused, but now is the time to prove that our generation can stand together.
All I know is that the fight is not over and, in fact, it is just beginning.