Can I share a couple of thoughts with you all? If anything, can you at least read the final paragraph for me?
One term that I’ve really struggled with is “white privilege.” I understand that it is used to contrast how what is status quo isn’t on the same for minorities; it’s supposed to show that minorities are deprived of what should be standard here in America. But whenever I heard it being used, I felt like it was used to belittle my own work. I felt like it discredited the struggle I have had to carry on to pursue a life of purpose and impact. I felt like it ignored how much I had to fight an uphill battle and had to set a standard matched by few just to escape the undertow of mediocrity. I felt like it discredited the fact that I have to take 18 credits per quarter plus work two jobs just to stay afloat financially and how I have to get up at 4am just to accomplish all my objectives and have no free time for a social life that the only way people know I’m alive is my status on Facebook. I felt like white privilege discredited all that.
But, as I woke up this morning and had to grasp the reality that Trump is going to be the smug face of America for the next 4 years, I had an unsettling realization. I did not vote for Trump and I don’t agree with how he carries himself, his attitude towards others, or his policies. But even though I voted against him, I personally am not harmed by his election. As I wake up this morning, my personal situation isn’t severely harmed with Trump; it might even be improved.
That is when I discovered the meaning of “White Privilege”: Even getting what I didn’t want doesn’t truly negatively impact me, Trump just becomes a nauseous ringing in my ear. Many others who are of different races or live in the margins of society can’t all say the same thing. For them, this land just got much darker and the hills have become much steeper.
I remember when Obama was first elected and it was a scary feeling being a republican then; it felt like we were slipping into this dark abyss and it felt like our rights were going to fall like a row of dominoes. But today is different. After I got the Trump ringing out of my ear and finished my morning shift at FedEx and headed to class, I was presented with a deeper kind of fear. If you watch the news or get on Facebook, you see a bitter lashing out, but what I saw on campus was absolute terror. People are completely rattled and have no sense of security. Trump’s unprecedented victory blindsided everyone and they truly do not feel safe.
I don’t know how to explain it, but validated or not, the demeanor feels like someone just took the whole campus and dropped it into the middle of Syria. That feeling that you just need to get from point A to point B as quickly as possible and don’t draw attention to yourself. In every class there was time at the beginning of the period for everyone to just decompress and process what happened: How did this happen? Why did this happen? What is going to happen?
There have been multiple emails from different departments at the school addressing this fear, reassuring those who feel vulnerable that you are accepted here, that you are valued, that you are safe. Right in the middle of Tiffany Loop we had a designated place for people who feel vulnerable to feel safe in unity with each other and a place to know that you are accepted and it was always full of people.
You can say that this fear is unwarranted, but the fact is this election wasn’t a typical swing of tax codes or government spending, it has been received that America is not welcome to people who don’t fit a particular set of criterias. If you think this all sounds pathetic, then I especially am asking you to make a conscious effort to be gracious to others. If you think last night was a step forward in “Making America Great Again” then take the next step and show that goes for those who are minorities, who are disabled, who are LGBTQ, who are atheists. Because this Great America doesn’t feel great for them. It is up to you to Make America Great Again, and it can’t be great if half of America is left in the corner. You call for unity in the midst of victory, but you need to initiate it with arms open wide and a heart full of love.