title taken from "New Day" by Kerwin DuBois & Teddyson John
The Event that Stunned Us All
Before you read on, you should know that this is not a review of a party or Carnival. You will not see pictures of beautiful costumes or clips of partiers jumping and waving. This is a review of an event that shocked America. An event that has many wondering if this country is still the nation to which they want to pledge allegiance. On Tuesday, November 8th, 2016 billionaire Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. As the child of immigrants, this not only shocks me, but concerns me.
While Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, a detail that was downplayed in post-election coverage, she lost electoral votes in key states. Blah, blah, blah. The point is our nation will move from Hawaiian-born biracial Barack Obama to a man who represents bigotry, misogyny, and homophobia. Regardless of political affiliation, this is a blow to those of us who've seen our parents struggle to assimilate into a country that, although it was built on the idea of inclusion, often excluded those who represented the non-Aryan demographic.
I saw this up close at a young age. I left New York to attend high school in suburban Minnesota. For four years, I heard ignorant comments from kids who knew nothing other than wealthy whiteness. I saw protesters who did not want me to move in to their neighborhood. I was treated like a commodity from 'well meaning" liberals who assumed I didn't know my father or lived on welfare and felt the need to save me from the certainty of drug dependency. I know racism.
I've been to work functions where I'm called "sweetheart" or "hon" because I'm the only woman in the room. I've seen men treat my female bosses like they were schoolgirls who deserved to be talked down to. I saw powerful women forced to laugh off inappropriate comments simply because addressing them would label them "bitches" who can't take a joke. I know sexism.
I remember having to fill out a college application twice because having Guyanese parents meant that I was Latina and not Black American. I remember being asked if I spoke English because of this. I remember having to explain that there's more to West Indians than beaches and marijuana. I spent full days in college explaining my culture and my heritage to Americans who despised foreigners. I know xenophobia.
I thought it was over. We elected a black president with a funny-sounding name and a non-American parent. I thought we were a new America. A better America.
I was wrong.
In one single night, I realized that racism, sexism, and xenophobia never died. They are alive in the hearts of the people with whom I work, the people with whom I went to school, and even the people with whom I share skin tone. I am concerned that young Americans who have not known blatant racism will now be exposed to it. They will have the same experiences I did. Every generation of Americans will have witnessed blatant discrimination.
However, despite this election, America has actually made progress. In our short history, we have built a system with civil liberties that cause refugees to flock to our shores. It may take us a while to get past this election, but we will. I will. And rather than just being outraged by daily injustices, I have the freedom to fight them and to fight for the fair treatment of my fellow citizens. I will continue to vote in EVERY election rather than get cynical and promote political laziness. I'm not cynical. Cynicism is a refuge for the coward. Believing that there is nothing you can do gives you license to do nothing. I'm optimistic. I will DO MORE! I have and will continue to do this to ensure that I am always proud to be an American.
After all, no where else has Brooklyn.