Yesterday, at 3:00 p.m., I left campus to fulfill my civic duty. I returned to my middle school, in what most would consider as an affluent suburb of Philadelphia, one that is predominantly white, to vote for who I expected to be the first female President. I walked up to the polling place with my mother and sister by my side; three educated women that are fortunate enough to make informed votes and experience life without the constant threat of deportation, racism, and hatred that many of my friends and peers experience on a daily basis. We knew it was our duty to make the right choice, a choice that would ensure that our country did not undo the progress it had so recently made from its intolerant past. A choice that guaranteed us hope for a better future, not fear of a regressive one.
The voting machines were located in what used to be my family and consumer science classroom -- a class that I despised because it taught antiquated ideals about a woman’s role in the house as a caretaker and homemaker. I told my sister about the irony of voting for the first female president in the classroom that had once instilled in me and my female peers that a woman should feel most comfortable in the home. After voting, I felt empowered. I passed the two older women on my way out that had handed me a republican ticket on my way into the polls and giggled (naively) at the fact that there were actually women who supported the outwardly sexist Donald Trump.
At 11:00 p.m. I sat in my bed, nervously, with two of my female housemates as we switched between news stations so that we could see who had the most recent updates of the unimaginable numbers that reflected that Trump had the potential to be our president-elect. We discussed our fear, disgust, shock, and honest confusion about how a nation could elect such a hateful and truthfully, under qualified candidate for president. When the reality of the future of our nation started to set in, the empowerment that I had felt earlier that same day quickly turned into a sense of defeat and hopelessness.
This morning, when I realized that our fears had become our reality, I was afraid. I opened a text from my mom that said, “today is a sad day but we must continue to be, speak and act our conscience. Our voices are important maybe now more than ever.” After reading this, I realized that now is the time when the combination of our actions and words can actually make an important change in the fate of our futures. The white supremacy, anti-semitism, racism and misogyny that we have so vigorously fought to suppress has finally made its way out of the areas that it had been silently festering in and found its own voice. I shuttered with fear. Fear of this resurgence of hatred. Fear of the fact that I feel too powerless, too female, and too little to make the impact that I want to make. Fear that we, as a people, cannot reverse the rifts we’ve created amongst ourselves.
This election shows us that America is broken. We are a broken nation that needs to put itself back together. This election has brought hatred back to the forefront of society. Hateful beliefs are no longer things we can neglect to acknowledge because the supporters of these beliefs now hold the “power.” The work we have done to make America more accepting, inclusive, progressive and an all around better place is going to be challenged. Now, more than ever, we need to let our convictions be heard. We need to take action, not be reactionary. There is nothing more important to the success of this nation than our respect for one another. In the end, we are stronger together, not apart.