I strongly opposed Trump – and repeatedly denounced his candidacy, his campaign, his rhetoric and his platform of hate. I compared his ideas about immigration, the “inner cities” and his proposed ban of all Muslims to the intolerance of Vladimir Putin, and the anti-Semitism of Adolf Hitler. I denounced his selection of Mike Pence as a vice presidential running mate, on the basis of intolerance toward the LGBT community. I condemned Trump’s treatment of and language toward women, and I recognized the threat he poses to women’s rights. I stood against his family’s tradition of the canned hunting, and his disbelief in climate change. Finally, I was critical of his incitement of violence toward Hillary Clinton and the ways he sought to undermine our democracy.
I watched in disbelief as a man who emboldened hate and amplified its message was declared President-elect.
This was a hard pill to swallow.
For me, the excitement I felt when Hillary Clinton announced she was running for president transformed into passionate dedication. I wholeheartedly believed and invested in her platform, and I fought hard for her vision. Through her message of inclusivity, compassion and hope, I fell more in love with her. I saw Hillary’s humanity.
I watched as the daughter of an orphan made history, poised to make more yet when the glass ceiling shattered. As I looked at that Javits Center stage with eager anticipation, I thought about my mother, my grandmother, my aunt. I thought about Ruline Steininger – about Mae Wiggins – and about Hillary herself. She placed her career on hold for her husband’s political ambitions. She changed her name – her hair – her clothes – her voice – her smile. As a First Lady, she challenged convention to become a change-maker.
But the world wanted cookie recipes, not an ambitious woman or her voice. Hillary wouldn’t comply – and the idea of her giving a victory speech on that stage seemed poetic and deserved. She is an inspiration – a champion of others – and I admire her perseverance. I felt a sense pride and couldn’t wait to witness that moment in our shared history. I was with her and I was ready.
Then she stalled at 209 electoral votes. My heart sank – and suddenly, I was confronted with the very real possibility of a Donald Trump presidency. My shock quickly turned to sorrow and, in the early morning hours, I was confronted with the ugly idea that Hillary’s “Love Trumps Hate” slogan was reversed.
Donald Trump became our President-elect. Hate trumped love.
I didn’t sleep that night and I felt sick to my stomach. When my mom called me later that morning, I was overcome with emotion. I was frustrated, fearful and defeated. I wanted so desperately for women and minorities to have a platform that would take them to heights unknown – but I felt genuine concern that those groups may soon find themselves under attack.
DAY ONE IN “TRUMP’S AMERICA”
That morning, I was heartbroken and despondent. I considered what “Trump’s America” would look like – what it would feel like – and quickly, I knew.
First came the celebratory messages from Trump supporters on social media and through voicemail. Then came the harmless jokes, which upon further reflection were incredibly disturbing. Someone asked me, “What [concentration] camp are you going to?”
That question looped in my mind for a while. I wasn’t afraid of the idea (because our government is designed to prevent such atrocities, right?) but knowing our President-elect brought this darkness with him shook me.
Even more troubling was the gloating of people around me and a message I received from a friend. They said they left a class because people were making sexist comments about women in the presidency. They also said, “We need to get rid of all them damn Mexicans anyway,” and they stated “Trump was sent by God to save our country from the gays and immigrants.”
Throughout the rest of that day, I listened. I received the cases against, and defenses of Donald Trump. I listened to a couple concerned about their marriage equality, or the healthcare needs of HIV/AIDS patients in their community. I heard the voices of women concerned for the safety of their rights, and from young people about the stability of their futures. I listened to a woman tell me, “You wouldn’t want a woman president anyway. The presidency is a man’s job.”
It was a lot to take in – and I tried my hardest to respond correctly, but I became increasingly agitated by sexism, fear and privilege. When a young man told me he didn’t vote, but would have voted for Trump, I asked him why. He said, “I don’t think Hillary deserves to be the first woman president,” and “because I had nothing to gain.”
I asked him what he needed to gain – as a heterosexual, white male. He shrugged and went on, unconcerned with the idea that millions of women and minorities could lose decades of progress. I was frustrated when I saw a video of schoolchildren screaming “Build a wall!” at Latino students. This of course, came just moments before I discovered the chilling post: Day 1 in Trump’s America.
This is the hatred Donald Trump emboldened – and these are the voices he amplified and validated. These voices do not form an America I wish to know. With Trump’s victory, the KKK rejoiced, Vladimir Putin sent congratulations and fear consumed our nation like wildfire. Intolerable actions and attitudes uncontrollably emerged.
MY PLEDGE TO YOU
We will find ourselves challenged. For many of us, the threat of regression and fears of oppression are real – decades of progress are at stake.
Women are not second-class citizens. Members of the LGBT community are not second-class citizens. People living with disabilities are not second-class citizens. African-Americans, Native-Americans, immigrants and Latinos are not second-class citizens. PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE FIRST.
With my eyes focused on Trump’s administration, I want to remind everyone that I am and will always be here to reject hate. I am a fierce opponent of inequality. If you feel threatened or scared – I will stand with you. I will lend my voice – and I will not be inactive.
Though I have no plans to join protests occurring nationwide. I am making a plan to get involved, because I believe it’s best for us to come together and be part of something greater – so that our voices are stronger and resonate further, and so our base is larger when we are needed to reject hate.
Love will trump hate.
A SPECIAL MESSAGE TO TRUMP SUPPORTERS
I am disappointed with and feel betrayed by you. If you are a family member or friend that voted for Donald Trump, please know that I am urgently trying to reconcile my feelings toward you. Though I believe success or failure may depend on the state of our relationship leading up to the election. Before you scoff – or consider telling me my attitude is wrong, consider this:
I made myself vulnerable as I pleaded with you to vote for Hillary. I believe the Trump family is inauthentic and presents a danger to civil liberties, our climate and to the beliefs I have and causes I support on a foundational level. When you voted for him, I feel like you voted against me – and as a family member or friend, that hurt.
Whatever your reasoning, just know that by not voting for me (as I perceived it), my ability to live equally and authentically stands to be challenged – as does the equality of those I admire and love deeply. So, I have requirements.
I require you to be available, willing to stand against attacks on civil liberties – and willing to condemn violence rooted in intolerance. This is non-negotiable. If you are unwilling to commit to this end, then I fear what’s done is done. People deserve to be happy and that happiness sometimes involves curating life experiences to limit pain.
I’m not asking you for much, I just need you to be willing to fight for me should my equality – or the equality of those I love – come under attack.
I understand there has been a call for unity – for us to greet Donald Trump with an open mind, and to give him a chance to lead. Without going into detail about this great irony, I offer you this:
I will give Donald Trump a chance with conditions met – he must sincerely and publicly apologize to all people that felt marginalized by him or his campaign. He must apologize to his victims of discrimination and to the women that felt, or were, objectified. He must apologize for his actions – and he must conduct himself with a greater sense of decency moving forward. He absolutely must condemn the violent acts, hate and intolerance in the name of “Trump’s America.”
If Donald Trump doesn’t meet these standards, I will oppose him.