For anyone that doesn’t know, on Tuesday 11/9/2016, Donald Trump became the new presidential elect for the United States of America, winning 290 electoral votes to Hilary Clinton’s 228.
I woke up earlier than normal that day. I knew I had to be at school by 8:30 AM for class, so I was at my voting site at 6 AM. I could barely contain my excitement because this was my first time voting in a presidential election (and I thought the Democrats had it). I walked in, confused where to go but finally got my ballot and made my way to the polling station. As I was about to go cast my vote, an older Caucasian gentleman in the booth next to me with a “Make America Great Again” hat smiled and said “choose wisely”. I knew what he meant but I thought nothing of it.
Throughout the campaign, I knew there were people that supported Donald Trump. We all knew that. He could say anything racist, misogynistic, demeaning and downright idiotic, but there were some people around the US that would still find some reason to say that it was acceptable. I would tell myself, everyone has different political ideologies and it’s important to be respectful of that. When Trump called for a Muslim ban, a wall to be built, and said terrible things about women, I remember feeling slight fear, but thinking that there was no way that America would ever let this guy win. For the whole time he was campaigning, I convinced myself that it was a joke, or it was a scam to make sure that Hillary Clinton would win, because could people really be blind enough to vote for someone that just spewed hatred? Whatever reasons American’s had, many of them did vote for him and whether intentional or not, they created an unsafe environment as a result. For anyone that is a person of color, from the LGBT community, or is amongst any of the groups that Trump targeted his hatred towards, the world took ten steps back in any progress that had been made.
When it started to become more and more clear that he may win the election, I felt numb. It seemed to me as if his winning would be validating the racist, misogynistic and offensive things that his campaign was based off of. The people that believed in the things he said, now had a green light to do whatever they wanted because hey, their candidate is going to be the new president. Racism, misogyny, and stupidity won the election last Tuesday.
It has taken me a week to be able to articulate my thoughts in relation to this and I still don’t know if I can adequately describe the way that I, and many others I know feel. I’m sure there are reasons aside all the bad that people voted for Trump, maybe they really thought he was the better of the two bad options, but whatever those reasons may be, he advocated for hatred and that fact won’t change even if he himself somehow does. It’s easy to look past certain things a presidential candidate says and does if it doesn’t affect you directly. The reality is that hate crimes against numerous minority groups are at a high, and people are being openly demeaning and racist to others. This is not okay. People should be uncomfortable with the thought of saying something that could be deemed racist. People should be uncomfortable letting one person represent a whole religion or culture. People should not feel as if they can tell someone “to go back to their country”, when this is their country.
I’ve been wearing hijab now for a little over two years and I’ve never hesitated putting it on before. Though I’ve experienced islamophobia in limited aspects, my safety was something I was sure about. I woke up on Wednesday wondering what it would be like after I walked outside of my house into a country where the majority didn’t want to accept me for the person that I am. It had been less than 24 hours since Trump won and I woke up to numerous “stay safe” messages and reports of hate crimes that had taken place in that short time. I didn’t know how to feel but I had tears in my eyes every time I thought about it. I still don’t know how to feel when I find myself looking over my shoulder ten times more if I’m going anywhere alone. I still can’t help but wonder if, when someone stares too long, they see me for me, or equate me to all that they hear on the news about “people like me”.
The last time I felt this unsure about my identity was last year, when Deah, Yusor, and Razan were executed in their home because of the fact that they followed Islam (My Brother was killed by Islamophobia). I remember thinking that could’ve been me, or my sister, or any one of the people that I love. Thinking about the reality of that situation still sends shivers through my spine. I could never understand what their family members feel, but the way that my heart mourned, it felt as if I knew them. They were such incredible people but their lives were shortened because someone was filled with an unfathomable amount of hatred.
I’m scared that things like that will become more common as a result of Trump’s win. I pray Allah (swt) will keep all of us safe and I trust Him to do so. Right now, and in the four years to come, I think the only think that any of us can do is stand by each other and try to be the best versions of ourselves in face of any adversity. I read somewhere “some people are racist because they’re bad people, but some people are that way because they don’t know any better.” Show those around you through your character and actions what kind of person you are and if they have not-so-great opinions, show them that they’re wrong. I know it’s not fair and it never will be but that is the world that we live in. I’m still confused, as I’m sure many others are, but I believe that this feeling will fade with time and I’ll feel at home in a country that I love.