I woke up on Wednesday morning, paralyzed by fear. And also partially from the neurological movement disorder that has taken over my body.
You see, I’m a disabled, Mexican, first generation, Jewish, woman who voted for Hillary Clinton.
Throughout the 2016 campaign, I’ve felt beaten down consistently by the rhetoric that has been thrown at all of the boxes that I check. And I’ve felt the pain of my friends and colleagues who check all of the other boxes that have been traumatized by this election cycle.
Yet, I’m not afraid of the Trump administration.
As the results rolled in, I shared in the disbelief millions of Americans felt across the country. I’m in the middle of my stages of grief. I’ve cried. I’ve had a panic attack. I’ve laughed in disbelief. I’ll continue to process my grief as time marches on.
But I’m not afraid because I can’t be. I’m choosing to believe in the inherent good of humanity. I have to because otherwise, I’ll be crushed under what feels like the weight of the world.
I’m a woman, and I see a glass ceiling that I need to break through. But I’m not afraid because, thanks to the first woman nominee of a major political party, at the very least I can see through the glass ceiling. During this election, women of color broke through barriers and continue to pave the way for us. The first Latina senator, only the second black woman to serve in the Senate, the first Thai senator, and countless other protectors of women are all making their way to Washington in January. And they’re going to represent women and our rights and make their voices heard. I’ll be right there with them.
I’m a Latina, and I see a wall that my people have to figure out how to get over or find the one small door somewhere. Millions of immigrants are terrified of what comes next, including some of my own family members. But I’m not afraid because I know the core of millions of immigrants living in our nation. I know the good in them. Like my mother and father, they are hard-working, loyal to the country they call home. And they’re ready to fight to stay in this nation. And I’m ready to stand with them.
I am disabled, and I now have an obstacle course before me that I have to navigate that just got harder. But I know that if I needed a hand, I could reach out to any number of friends, family, and colleagues who would gladly lend theirs.
But I’m privileged.
I work for a public policy firm that focuses on advancing progressive issues for ALL Americans. Led by the indefatigable Robert Raben, my colleagues and I vow to keep fighting, to keep pushing for rights that protect everyone who lives in America.
Disenfranchised communities across the country are in pain. Many of our LGBTQ, black, Asian and Pacific Islander, Muslim, and countless other brethren are afraid to breathe in their own country. Let us not belittle their very real pain by telling them to get over it. We all heal differently, but together we will heal.
I’m not afraid because I know we will take care of one another. Across all races, gender, ability, sexualities, religions, and more, I remain optimistic that we will take care of our fellow man. I’m not afraid because I believe we will come to the aid of any man, woman, or child who we see in danger.
When you’re too tired to stand, reach out to the person next to you. Throughout all of my trials, never have I asked for help to be met with a “no” from a loved one. But they can’t help if they don’t know you need it.
If you’re feeling strong enough to support someone, let your friends in need know that you are there for them whether it is to listen to their fears, walk down the street with them, and to support them in their time of need.
Despite all of the boxes that I check that might count against me in the next administration, I’m choosing to heed the call of my president and my nominee when they say that we owe the president-elect a chance to lead. I don’t like it, but I am choosing to not be afraid because I’m going to fight like hell to make sure his administration hears the voices of the minority. And I know countless others will also take up the call.
I’m not afraid because America has shown time and time again that she is resilient. Her people are too.
Brenda Arredondo-Ratner is a disabled, Mexican, Jewish, woman. Professionally, Brenda is a Director at The Raben Group, a progressive public policy firm based in Washington, D.C. Previously, Brenda worked on Capitol Hill for seven years and served as Press Secretary for the Joint Economic Committee and in other capacities for other members of Congress.