We have the love of humanity in our hearts

By Christin Howard

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Judith Gibson-Okunieff/Collegian

I originally wrote a very different article for today. It was an article that, if I’m to be completely honest, was based on the assumption that so many of us had: the assumption that the outcome of this election was already decided.

Today in class, my professor said that he thought the extreme emotional reactions of those around him were a bit overblown. “It’s not the end of the world,” he said, “I don’t see why so many people are crying in the streets.”

I tried my best to articulate the feeling that has been building in my chest ever since I saw the predictions shift around 10 p.m. last night, and I ended up crying in class. Despite the embarrassment, I am clinging to the hope that at least some of what I said was understandable and conveyed the feelings that are currently shared by so many of us.

I sit here today and I see the man who is to become our Commander in Chief and I weep. I weep because this is a man who has endorsed sexual assault, who has said that as a woman I do not deserve to decide what happens to my body, who has told millions that is okay to lay hands on a woman without her permission, to refer to them as cows and to judge them solely on their physical appearance. I weep because people elected him, because people agree with him.

I weep because this man says that the right to marriage, which the gay community has fought for tirelessly for decades, should be reserved exclusively for the majority. I weep because LGBTQIA people are seeing a president come to power who actively denies their rights, who tells them unequivocally that they do not matter and that this country was not built for them.

I weep because people of color (POC), all of them, are being told that they are less than and that the sly rhetoric of unworthiness that has been lurking around the edges of our political discourse long after Jim Crow was abolished is in fact the reality.

I weep for all of the immigrants who will live in fear. I weep for the Muslims who are afraid to practice their religion in a country that has spewed the rhetoric of tolerance since its inception.

I weep because, once and for all, this country – the country we were born in and grew up thinking we could change, thinking we could fight for, thinking we could make better – is looking us in the face and saying, “This place is not for you. This place was not made for you, for women, for immigrants, for gays, for Muslims or POC. Your voice does not matter.”

I weep because the ideas of unworthiness and self-hate that have been instilled in all oppressed peoples have finally been publically vindicated and announced to the world, and, in recognizing my privilege, I acknowledge that as a white American I cannot even begin to understand the tremendous feelings that those who have been more oppressed than me are having.

We never thought that this would happen. The media never thought that this would happen. The establishment never thought that this would happen. We never believed it could be possible because we have been ignoring the problem that has been festering in our country’s heart for decades. Trump did not spring from nothing and his supporters are not simply racists and bigots that arose to menace the good people of this country. This phenomenon is also not, as so many people have suggested, exclusively the result of the Republican Party; it is a result of the failings of this government on all sides and in all capacities.

The people who voted for Trump are angry and largely have a right to be. Their economy and their livelihood has been usurped from them just as it has been usurped from us. The same feeling of anger that Bernie Sanders captured and tried to turn into positive change, Trump has captured as well.

Most uneducated, white, working class Americans have felt excluded from politics and they have mostly grown up in places where racist, sexist and xenophobic undertones in their communities and beliefs have not been addressed. It is no wonder than, looking at the state of our country, that the easiest target for their hate and anger would be immigrants and other marginalized groups. I see this hatred as a fundamental failing of education. A fundamental failing of our leaders (yes even Obama) to address issues of poverty, race and gender within mainstream politics.

Today I woke up to see an incredible number of hate-filled messages. I am not dismissing them. You, especially people who have been marginalized far more than I, have a right to be angry and have a right to hate. I recognize my privilege to have this opinion but I do not believe, cannot believe, that half our country is simply comprised of xenophobes and racists who deserve no empathy. We cannot hope to change, to combat the hatred pouring from across the aisle, with hatred of our own.  It is our job to try to understand why this happened, and perhaps to organize and begin to speak to the true problems in this country that have allowed this to happen.

This was a wake up call that it is time for the youth to stand up and stand together. I saw an electoral map today that showed only the projected millennial votes, and it was a map that was almost entirely blue. We have the power. We have the power to fight for a country that works for everyone. Not for corporations, not for only white men, but for everyone.

Christin Howard is a Collegian columnist and can be reached at [email protected]