Today, fear won.
I am wholeheartedly disappointed and mournful about the current political discourse of America. I am ashamed that the majority of Americans elected a racist, sexist, xenophobic, and inexperienced bigot to lead this country. I am concerned about the safety of Muslims, women, Latinos, African Americans, undocumented immigrants, and every minority, because normalized bigotry and hate is now enshrined in America’s 45th president.
I can hardly describe this deep pit of emptiness and despair stirring within me. Sleep evaded me as I thought of what Muslim-American parents were going to tell their children in the morning. I was overwhelmed with worry when I thought of my parents, their imperfect English and how it will be received in a country fighting to reject them.
Throughout this election cycle, I had strong faith in Americans. I was confident that we would elect an experienced and well-educated woman to lead our nation, despite her shortcomings. I amusingly dismissed the possibility of a Trump presidency, given the numerous imbecilic statements he has made. I was assured that we would not allow someone who has repeatedly spewed divisive and hateful rhetoric to govern us.
I underestimated the dangerous potency of ethno-nationalism, burgeoning around the world, particularly in “developed” nations such as Britain, Germany and France. I thought America was becoming immune to intolerance.
Eight years ago, we elected our first Black president. It was a small victory for a nation built on the labor and sweat of Black men and women. It was a progressive step of hope and change. Today, America’s president elect is endorsed by the KKK, a grave indication that white supremacy is well alive and thriving.
Trump’s continuous fear-mongering galvanized scores of Americans to vote for him and his supporters passionately subscribed to the Islamophobic, misogynistic and uneducated doctrines he boasted to preserve the “Whiteness” of America. They deliberately “forgot” the legacy of multi-ethnic immigrants engrained in the creation of this nation in order to comfortably facilitate their own hate. His campaign succeeded principally in its ability to bid people against one another and Americans proved how easily the seeds of discord can be sown.
Trump’s victory is not a step forward for America. It is one-hundred steps backward. It is a step backward for women’s self-sovereignty over their bodies, a step backward for immigrants who entered this country filled with a renewed sense of hope and opportunity, a step backward for Muslim Americans who’ve fought endlessly to dispel stereotypes, a step backward for Black men and women who from the inception of this nation sacrificed so much to attain but a silver of equality.
But we cannot let the anxiety and fear of this new presidency cripple us, and I cannot stress this enough. Do not become complacent in fear. Do not become discouraged and politically apathetic.
We must let this embolden us to become stronger agents of change.
Now more than ever, is the time for us to unite under the banner of tolerance, inclusivity, and equality to preserve the multicultural and multireligious fabric of our society. This is the prime time for community-based political activism on college campuses, at local mosques, churches and synagogues, to combat hate.
Pour your heart out in a blogpost. Volunteer at any local charity. Call your district representative or senator. Host and attend Know Your Rights Workshops. Host and attend interfaith events.
Most importantly, be resilient.