What's left

9 November 2016
9 Nov 2016
West Lafayette, IN
4 mins

Stop for a second. Hold on – I need to say something. None of the “Election map if only ___ voted” deliver a great message to me.

I don’t care what the millenials’ choice was, or what the women’s choice was, or what the minorities’ choice was; not because I don’t think examining the statistics matters, but because hoping America comprised of only one kind of people is not who we are. We all know who appealed to who in this election, and Trump won largely because of the middle class white males as a demographic. We know.

The election maps you’re reposting on Twitter and sharing on Facebook aren’t delivering a message; they aren’t teaching America a lesson; they aren’t profound observations. To me, they reinforce the notion that America is a nation of battling cultures. I hope we can be more than that.

America is great because it is good, Michelle said, and it is good, I believe, because of the diversity and color we love and embrace. We can’t afford to lose anymore, and we can’t afford to hate anymore. We can’t afford to blame anymore, and we can’t simply imagine nor hope that America were ONLY young people or ONLY women or ONLY immigrants. We can’t afford to look for a “them” within “us” anymore, because we can’t afford to lose ourselves any more than we already have.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t keep fighting for our rights and raise our voices for the causes we care about. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call out the president-elect and his plans for being white-supremacist, patriarchal, discriminatory, and unconstitutional. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be vigilant about standing up and arguing for our values and ourselves. If you’re one of the millions of Americans the Trump campaign has dismissed, marginalized, objectified, and dehumanized to an appalling degree, I hear you. You are right, and you deserve more.

And to every woman, every member of the LGBTQ+ community, every immigrant (like myself), every African-American, every Mexican-American, every Asian-American… the world is infinitely better because you exist. Your life, as everyone else’s, matters equally and infinitely to the universe, and lest you doubt yourself, there is a passionate community of millions dying to tell you the same, regardless of the Supreme Court or the majority party.

But yelling into closed ears isn’t going to fix a lot of things.

As much as I fought for love and respect over hatred and violence, I’m hopeful for the values that did not die last night. I’m grateful for the voices I hear today in my life and online that reach out with only kindness and compassion. And I’m incredibly proud of Hillary and Obama for a genuine, difficult campaign, and for continuing the tradition of a smooth transition this morning. We might regret, and we might blame, but we aren’t writing an obituary to freedom.

Yesterday we saw our first Latina Senator, Catherine Cortez Masto. We saw the number of minority female members in the Senate quadruple. We saw our first Somali-American and female Somali-American legislator Ilhan Omar. And as much as we witnessed division, we saw love.

Despite what we might read, good things happened last night, and good people embraced victory last night. Good things will happen tomorrow; good people will win tomorrow. New couples will fall in love, new hopes will be born, new battles won, new lives celebrated.

I know what happened. We all do. But I’m hopeful for the future.

There’s a lot of work to do, but I hope we face the challenge with a greater, more undying passion rather than fall discouraged.

Because politics may knock on your doors every two years, but social injustice and inequality lurk behind us every day. The rotten fruits of ignorance and objectification hide behind smiling faces and dark alleys we pass by nonchalantly. We may have lost an election, but our values and justice stand without candidates, and after ballots. Our votes may have been counted, but our voices won’t die until they are, too.

As I’m graduating this winter, with more time on my hands, I want to do my part. I want to work for and build better social networks that rewards discussion and thoughtfulness over meaningless controversy. I want to get more involved in local government and nonprofits. I want to help more people learn why – and how – important their voices are, and how to make them heard. The losses yesterday don’t knock me down. It kicks me to work even harder, be even more vigilant about fighting for the people and the lives that matter, because that’s how change happens.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” - Eleanor Roosevelt

And so I believed last night. And so I believe today. Not in democrats or in young people or in Hillary, but in all of us.

The value of the Gap

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