Last night at work, a woman with her young son was checking out when she asked me if I could have someone walk her to her car because a man had been following her around the store for the past hour. Her hands were shaking. My boss offered to walk her out. I asked him to walk me to my car, too, fifteen minutes later.
Just a week before, the United States of America elected a blatantly racist, misogynistic, xenophobic man to be its next president. A man who I can guarantee has never had to be scared of anything before. Because he is privileged, and he doesn’t care that others are not.
I, too, am privileged. Apart from being extremely disappointed in my fellow Americans, I am living with the knowledge that my life will go relatively unchanged during his eminent presidency. I don’t have to fear that I and my family will be forced to leave our home because we weren’t born here. I don’t have to fear being judged based on my color.
This election wasn’t about me. I didn’t vote just for myself this time. Even as a privileged white, middle class woman, I am terrified. For myself, yes – but mostly for those who don’t have the privilege that I do.
I am terrified of men like Donald Trump. Men who glorify sexual assault and call it innocent “locker room talk.” Men who believe I have no right to make decisions about my own body. Men who don’t understand the fear a woman can feel walking to her car at six o’clock on a Tuesday.
I try to look at facts. 53% of white women voted Trump into office. College-educated white women like me. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt. I try to believe that they weren’t voting out of malice. I try to believe that they voted for this man because of his success in business (however controversial), his tax plans, his promise of more jobs.
But I am angry. I am angry because somehow, despite the insane amount of coverage this election received, they never came to terms with the fact that their vote for Trump cost millions of people their safety, security, and peace of mind.
I am trying to use this anger in a productive way. Donald Trump has a long list of offenses, but the most frustrating result of his candidacy has been how he has managed to create an impervious divide among the citizens of the United States. Everyone is on the attack. It is the easiest thing to disagree. It is the hardest thing to listen to opinions that are not your own. Dialogue has always been the bridge between the two. I fear that Trump has torn down this bridge entirely. Fear has taken its place.
Fear builds walls.
If there is one positive outcome of Trump’s election into office, it’s that there is no more hiding. America’s true colors have been revealed. We know who we are now, if we didn’t already know before. What we thought, or rather hoped, to be true, is not true. Yet. We’ve had ample time to mourn our losses. Now, it is time to move forward from here.
Let’s make America great. Because it was never great to begin with.