On the night of the 2016 US presidential election, I was in my dorm’s common room when my father called me. Before hanging up, he and I laughed at the idea of Trump as the victor of the night. I watched people rotate in and out of the common room. No one was in any panic because we all still saw Trump as more of a joke than reality. That all changed when he won Florida.
We began to grasp the idea that this wouldn’t be a day of celebrating the breaking of the glass ceiling. Instead, we’d be grieving over a man who takes us back decades. When it sunk in who our president was going to be, I broke down.
The issue wasn’t just Trump. What really hurt was that a large number of people in this country pretty much slapped me, my fellow POC, the LGBTQ+ community, Muslims, disabled people and others attacked by Trump. They slapped us hard and told us that they didn’t really care about our safety or rights. They cared about protecting their privilege with Trump.
The first time I felt attacked by Donald Trump was when he announced his plans to run for president. He just seemed like a regular guy, nothing distinguishing him from all the other candidates… Until his infamous line insulting Mexican undocumented immigrants. Having my family and friends insulted brought out an anger I didn’t realize was in me. I made sure to voice my opinions and to increase my effort to educate myself on policies and politicians.
As the months passed, his campaign grew stronger and more hateful. The list of groups he disrespected increased. Every time he said something that crossed a new boundary, I thought to myself, This has to be too far. This is what is going to open the eyes of his supporters! Every time, I was proven wrong. His supporters only found ways to make excuses for him. People I never thought would be apathetic to these kinds of issues gave their support to this man.
Before this election, I had a certain image of the society I lived in because I was surrounded by people similar to me for years: low-income minorities. I forgot that there are people in this country who think radically different than I do. I believed Trump was an utter joke who could never be nominated by his party, much less win the presidency.
He moved on from just being another candidate when he managed to win the Republican nomination. It shook me that he eliminated his competition with such dirty rhetoric. My level of fear reached a new height when I watched the RNC.
By this time, I was aware that minorities are not treated the same way in this country so it wasn’t a surprise exactly, but I was still reminded me of our sad reality. I saw this very clearly at the RNC. When the video where he openly bragged about sexual assault came out, I really thought that would kill the campaign. All the news outlets were saying how it would be extremely difficult for Trump to win and every poll showed Hillary leading the day of the election.
But this wasn’t the case.
The day after the election was rough. I woke up looking at the country in a different light, feeling hopeless. However, I looked for support from friends, family, and the Amherst College community. Students organized a walkout, in which I participated, to stand with undocumented/DACA-mented students to show them that students here will do anything in our power to make sure that future new policies won’t hurt them, and to get our college on board with this. It was beautiful for us to stand in solidarity and with strength after such a dark week.
I’m not going to say I feel that everything is going to be fine because I don’t know that. I can already see the hate taking over from the spike in hate crimes around the country and from the cabinet members Trump is nominating.
And yet: We still have power. We have to show to people that discrimination will not win. We won’t stay idle. As long as we keep fighting and resisting against his hate for the next four years, we’ll make sure that the next president and members of Congress know this country is not just for one group, but all groups. This hope is what will give me strength for the future.