When I was in college, I took a film course and my professor said something that I believe rings true — especially today. He said that America is obsessed with happy endings. I didn’t believe him, but then I thought about every movie that I had ever seen. Most of them wrapped up in pretty bows with cliché conclusions. Love conquered all. The bad guy was killed. And they all lived happily ever after.
I think that’s why I woke up with a surge of energy yesterday. I thought about how proud my generation would be. For many millennials, we changed history and elected the first black president. This year, we would change history again and elect the first female president. Our votes would pave the way for females of all ages.
I also thought about an America that was ready to conquer gender bias. I thought about immigrants of all generations and how this country would continue to embrace them. I thought about the LGBTQ community whose rights would be relentlessly defended. I thought about the beautiful ending to this election that every American deserved — regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.
But today I woke up and cried. Because these thoughts did not manifest into reality. Instead, they remained limited by my imagination. I felt tears streaming down my face as I buried my head in my hands and crumbled into a million pieces. Because in one night, it seemed like everything I fought for came undone, and everything I believed in was obliterated. Love did not conquer all, the bad guy won, and no one got the happily-ever-after ending that they expected.
I know this day will pass. I know we have to come together. I know I have to keep going. But today, at this very moment, it’s just really fucking hard. Because in one night, my country wounded me from all angles — as a young person, as a person of color, as a child of an immigrant, and moreover, as a woman. I had to remember that there’s a different set of rules for people who defy the norm. I had to remember that there are people who fear anything or anyone deemed different. I had to remember that the glass ceiling is more than real.
All of these things were things that I suspected, but the contrast between suspecting and knowing is startling. Like everyone else, I’ve seen glimpses of fear, ignorance, and hatred. I’ve seen them in certain people, in suspicious policies within our system, and in my own encounters with discrimination. These glimpses were not always so apparent or public. Rather, they operated in the quiet and subtle shadows of a country I thought I knew but barely did.
But now fear, ignorance, and hatred are no longer subtle. They speak volumes because now, they shine brightly in our country’s highest political office. And for the next four years, I have to deal with it. I have to follow, live in, and pledge my allegiance to a country that has let me down. It’s a country that has been swayed by a demographic as far from me as I can imagine: white males without a college degree.
However, somewhere in this mess — like many American films and plotlines — there is a silver lining. Because while the result of this election was not the ending we expected, maybe it was the ending we deserved. Perhaps we needed to wake up and realize that not everything is happily-ever-after. As millennials, we needed to be reminded about the importance of voting and being politically aware. As minorities, we needed yet another push to fight the good fight for change and equality. As women, we needed the motivation to break through that metaphoric but simultaneously-oh-so-real glass ceiling. As Americans, we needed to face the sobering truth that there’s still so much work to be done.
So I’m going to accept this unexpected ending and let it fuel me. I’m going to dig deep and do everything in my power to keep my head up. Because we have to be strong and fight. We have to keep going if we ever intend on getting the American fairy-tale ending that we so badly desire. To do this, we have to operate from a place of love. And that starts now. So let me begin by extending that love to the opposition.
To the supporters of President Trump, I hope that these next four years are kind to you.
If you’re white, I hope you find the words to say when you encounter a person of color and explain to them that you don’t have their best interest at heart.
If you’re a female, I hope you get every promotion you deserve. I hope you never experience gender discrimination in the workplace. Because if you do, you’ll realize the harsh irony in the fact that you voted to put down a woman with experience in order to exalt a man with none.
If you’re a parent, I hope your child never develops any physical or mental disabilities. Because as you shed blood, sweat, and tears to give them a better life, you’ll have to remember that your president mocked people who share challenges similar to the ones that your child faces.
If you’re a father, I hope you never have a son or daughter who comes out as gay. Because you’ll have to tell them that taking down the establishment meant more to you than supporting their right to love whoever they want.
If you’re a mother, I hope you never have a daughter who experiences sexual assault. Because she’s going to look to you for hope and wisdom when she falls apart. And when she does, you’ll remember in the back of your mind that you supported someone as guilty as her assaulter.
If you come from a family of immigrants, I hope you never have to explain your vote to another immigrant or someone trying to become an American citizen. Because it’ll be really fucking weird to rationalize that your family gets a free pass while his or her family does not.
If you’re a person of color, I hope you don’t experience discrimination or ignorance from the white majority that you thought you knew so well. Because when you realize that people are not colorblind, you will no longer feel safe and protected by the reassurance that you voted just like the white man did.
And because if any of you were to ever face those things, your beliefs would be obliterated. You would burst at the seams because your thoughts would begin to unravel. You would call into question your values and everything you loved about this country. And you would feel exactly how I do at this very moment. And I wouldn’t wish that feeling on anyone.
God bless you, and God help this country that I am trying so desperately hard to love again.