I am not a sore loser. I am a sad American. The day after the election, I woke up confused and groggy from going to sleep at 3 a.m. after the election coverage was too much to bear. It felt like the worst nightmare, but it was not. It is real. It is our truth now. You see, this isn’t about politics. This about something deeper than the vanity of age old partisan ideologies. This is about the realization that those who surround us, who work with us, who live with us, who sleep with us, have faith in and support a man who doesn’t support anything good.
I struggle to understand how my very own husband could support a man who doesn’t respect women or the fact that they strive for education and careers and success; but rather a man who despises minorities, LGBT, the disabled, Muslims or anyone who isn’t as white as he is.
Two things I’d like to explain at this point: I’m a woman ― a mother, a full-time working mother ― who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree 10 years ago. I am also biracial. Let that sink in. Now I may not be what you’re picturing in your mind right now. Is she more white? Is she more black? Light skinned? Dark skinned? To which the answer is no. No to all of the above. My father immigrated to the United States over forty years ago from Thailand. Trust me when I say he wasn’t immediately accepted in the mostly rural community that we’ve been raised in and live in to this day. While attending college in what was then an open land void of shopping plazas, highways, and open mindedness, he met my mother.
My mother is a Caucasian woman with family ancestry hailing largely from Germany, some Irish, and a tiny smidge Native American. Her family accepted my father and their marriage, but sadly they are the first people to voice their disapproval of anything other than the white norm. I have one brother, one sister, and all three of us combined have twice as many letters as the alphabet in our all of our names. Was I bullied as a child for my name, being called Jap and Chink? You bet. Was my father referred to as the Oriental man by neighbors on our street who didn’t take the time to know him? Yes. Was I made fun of and called names because of the foods I brought for lunch at school while other kids sat privileged eating their brown bagged, American lunches of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Absolutely. And so I understand those inherent beliefs which people behold are not easily swayed. That is what makes this election outcome so difficult to digest. That is what stirs the fear within those of us who have come from the place of different race, religion, and ethnicity. It took a long time to feel accepted just the way I was.
“I understand those inherent beliefs which people behold are not easily swayed. That is what makes this election outcome so difficult to digest.”
For a majority of my grade school life, I used a nickname to save myself embarrassment, questions, and bullying. The first day of school was always riddled with anxiety for the moment the teacher called attendance and the look on his or her face once they reached my name. I always knew when they got to my name. I’d sink a little lower in my seat and listen as they butchered the fuck out of it and watched the kids snickering with darting eyes scanning the room for this kid with the weird name. It wasn’t until my college years that I recognized the pride that had been buried deep within me. I didn’t want to hide anymore. I didn’t want to sink into my seat. I wanted to stand up at the front of the class. So I began using my full first name. I would pronounce it slowly for people, attempt to spell it phonetically to make it easier to understand, and I would answer questions people had about my name- “How’d you get a name like that?” and “I’ve never heard that name before, what does it mean?” Today, when I introduce myself, I am asked, “You must have a nickname or a shorter name. What do you go by?” To which my response is, “Jutaporn. That is my name. That is what I go by.” I would proudly tell people who asked questions about my father’s native country that it wasn’t a third world shit hole they pictured in their heads or saw in a movie. I would tell people the story of how my great grandfather was a General in the Royal Thai Army.
My father had a chauffeur, maids, and all the riches and privileges anyone could desire. And then I’d tell them how he decided to settle here, in America, and become a naturalized United States citizen because he believed in something greater than the life he had grown up with thousands of miles and many moons away. He believed in the promise of this country, its freedom, and its people. I am insanely proud of my family and of the love that my parents display by their forty years of marriage that even in a world where biracial marriage was still a whisper behind a closed door they chose to have a family, settle our roots and hold their heads high for doing all of that. Those two have always supported one another and supported one another’s dreams for their future and their children’s futures. It’s not to say they agreed on everything all the time. They are human after all. I thought we had come so far from that world and those times; it’s 2016 for fuck’s sake. I don’t wear a shroud of naivety anymore.
I’ve seen the ugly that people are capable of. People with small, closed minds who believe someone like Donald Trump telling them that entire races and religious followers are here to destroy America. He united the vulnerable, weak, stubborn, inexperienced citizens of this country and he did it using fear. My son is white. Well, one quarter Asian. But he looks white. And so do I. But I am not. That’s probably why my husband’s support of this evil President-elect hurts so badly. Because he never grew up knowing what I know, and he’ll never have to. He’s a white male. A privilege in this country. It’s why this feeling of betrayal hurts so deeply. Know that I am your neighbor, your coworker, your student, your customer, your patient. You look at me with confused eyes and you fail to acknowledge the sadness that those like myself experienced as a child, sitting in the classroom right beside you. The person who is a target once again, now 20 some years later, is me. You’ve deeply hurt me by your lack of empathy; I sit at my desk, in the bathroom, in my bedroom, weeping for the loss of all achievements and gains of Americans like myself. You’ll wake up and make coffee, feeling fine, smiling at yourself in the mirror, never knowing this pain and this fear. And because you are my fellow American, I pray you never do. Godspeed.