The world slowed down for me the night Trump was elected. My phone flooded with texts asking me if I was okay, if I needed anything, if I felt safe. I don’t remember moving my hands to reply, or even thinking of what to say. Things started happening in flashes: I was with my friends; I was in my room; I was crying; I was with an anti-hate student planning group; I was crying; I was at a poetry slam, shaking in front of an audience; I was crying; I was at a dialogue; I was at a teach-in; I was shaking and holding back sobs and flashbacks of my parents’ homeland and life under a dictatorship; and, at the end of the day, I was always alone. Everyday calling home to make sure my mom wasn’t yelled at in the supermarket again or worse, hearing my sister say she’s afraid to wear the hijab, and trying to help my brother research Canadian universities to apply to. For a long time the world was moving too fast around me, and my life was in an uncontrollable slow motion, but the scariest moment was when I realized I had quickly adjusted.
The world slowed down for me the night Trump was elected.
When news about yet another mosque shot up or another Muslim woman pushed or beat became normal. When basic support for DACA students by universities became a feat to celebrate instead of expect. When I started walking with my head down and eyes averted whenever I saw a bumper sticker or a hat that said “Make America Great Again,” and when I couldn’t say for sure whether I’ll be allowed re-entry into the U.S when I travel. My state of shock became my life, and I became void of reactions to triggering events. The white liberal media became white noise and all I could do was use myself as satire.
In other news strikes in Aleppo have not ceased… countless dead and wounded… the last hospital destroyed… dead bodies scattered in the streets… citizens writing their goodbyes and posting suicide notes on twitter… the U.N is calling it Hell.
There are a lot of ways to gently walk people out of the deep abyss of their mind. For me, however, I was yanked out and slapped in the face with videos and pictures of dead bodies that could be my cousins. People who have sacrificed and lost everything for freedom from oppression but will never get to see it. Children who have more strength than I could ever hope to have, and who have been ignored as people wonder what Trump and Kanye talked about when they met.
In the past couple of months alone I have been threatened and followed, glared at by countless people.
Minority suffering is nothing new; we have been set on fire time and time again. It’s an excruciating pain that lasts but never burns us away.
I am not underestimating the devastating effect Trump will and has had on our communities. In the past couple of months alone I have been threatened and followed, glared at by countless people, and sent online hate messages. But the fact is, this has been a part of my life since I was a child.
Our families taught us to survive, because they lived their whole lives surviving circumstances we may never comprehend. A couple of months ago, I attended a talk given by Junot Diaz. At one point he looked out into the audience, at the crowd of brown and black students who looked up to him and related to his narratives, and asked, “Why would you think the fight was over? You survived this long, what the hell are you doing slowing down?”
Two days ago, Trump officially became the next elected president of the United States. SNL’s “Hillary Actually” sketch has become a relic of the past, and all hopeful pleas for electors to change their votes have failed.
But this does not mean that we adapt. Adaption sounds a lot like hiding, like compromising, like assimilating. I am not interested in compromising myself to make white people comfortable.
I am not interested in compromising myself to make white people comfortable.
Our brother and sisters in the Middle East, in central Africa, in Latin America, and in countless more places have been fighting for their rights, freedoms, and identities for decades or more. Here in America, black and brown bodies have lined the road to civil rights for a long time. Trump is just a taste of these battles. After all, they never ended; some of us were just fooled into thinking the majority was finally on our side.
Try to rest this winter break, a whole new battle starts on January 20th, 2017.