This election filled me with so much hate and anger. My heart was heavy and the way I was feeling was incredibly unfamiliar. I was a zombie going to class this morning. I kept thinking about how small I felt. How my vote hadn’t mattered. How this was how Americans really felt—they would rather a racist, xenophobic, homophobic sexist over a well-qualified woman. It hurt so much that I had to swallow my pride to even vote for Hillary, and it still wasn’t enough.
I grew up with a black president. He was there for my teenage years, the years I was finding myself politically, and personally. President Obama has shaped me and my view of this country. I truly believed this country had improved tremendously in such a short amount of time. The Civil Rights Movement was just something I learned about in history class. I didn’t realize there was more work to be done until my junior year of high school, and even then I didn’t realize how much work needed to be done. This election showed me the extent to which we have improved as a country is almost negligible. The same racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic sentiments that existed so long ago are still very much alive in America. The people who believe in them are just better at hiding their true feelings.
When I realized this, I was extremely disappointed. It made me reevaluate everything I knew about the country I was born in. The country my mother and father immigrated to to better their lives. Was this really the country of the free? And if it was, why did I feel so trapped? Why did I feel so small?
Being a minority on this campus, you already feel a little small. Every day you work through the feeling and try to make yourself a little bigger. All the progress I made in making myself bigger here in the last 3 months was undone in a night. This election made me feel miniature.
When I went to Makuu today and saw the support being offered by my fellow students, I started to feel big again. The heavy feeling in my heart was lightened by the love everyone was promoting. I realized that Trump and his supporters had made me feel alone and unwanted in America. They made me feel stupid for being angry. Makuu and La Casa Latina showed me differently. I know now and understand that my feelings about this election are valid. I am allowed to be angry. I am allowed to feel disappointed. But, as someone at the Solidarity Walk said, I am not allowed to feel defeated, for I, and all the minority populations of this country, will not be defeated by bigots—or anyone for that matter.
Penn’s minority population has provided me with hope. Hope for the future of this country and for the difference that we as Penn students can make. I was in a bad place earlier today, and I honestly did not know how to feel. I was ready to give up, and through these conversations and these support centers, I have quickly found hope in a hopeless situation. I, now more than ever, am grateful to go to an institution with such a unified minority population, and I urge anyone feeling hopeless as I did to please talk to someone, anyone, about the way you feel. Realize you are not alone and this election is not the end. It is a turning point in our history. We must respond to this election with action. We are resilience and power. Don’t let this election discourage you.