All views are our own and not representative of any of the brands we promote or represent. The purpose of this post is not to incite political controversy but merely to present to our friends abroad who have questioned us about the turnout of the U.S. election with a raw conversation of what the Trump presidency means for minorities in America. We would like to encourage you to travel more so you may be exposed to different world views and that you may be able to consider all consequences of your actions from the perspectives of others.
Last night after the election results were released, friends that I had met abroad started messaging me things like, “What is happening in America right now?” and “We don’t understand what is going on” and “We were so sure Hillary would win.” I genuinely did not know how to respond to them because I, too, had no idea what had happened. I was disappointed beyond words and ashamed to be in this country that had once led the fight for social rights and in one night threw it all away. All the progress that I believed we had made was instantly wiped out as I watched our nation take leaps backward. Through conversations stretching to the early hours of 4 AM, I was able to receive more perspective and understanding on what may have happened. I read an interesting article comparing our modern day society to movies such as the Hunger Games and Star Wars. It explained that, like the movies, the rural areas are often oppressed and seen as insignificant compared to large cities. One example given was about how during Hurricane Katrina, all the attention was on New Orleans. Rural areas in Mississippi where hundreds died were barely mentioned or given notice. It described this election as a rebellion against powerful cities. When it comes down to it, anger can fuel people to do anything, ridiculous as it may seem.
This morning, as I was walking to class, I had a series of epiphanies. First, that I was so thankful to be in Ann Arbor, a liberal college town of individuals who tirelessly fight for equality. Second, that this thankfulness also stemmed partially from a relief that I was not in an area of America that voted for Trump. Thankfulness in knowing that, had I been in a less diverse area, I would genuinely feel afraid of what people might yell out or do to me, an Asian American female. Third, that if I felt these things, I could only imagine how groups far more oppressed than mine felt on this day. My heart absolutely sank at the thought that Muslims and the LGBTQ community, to name a couple, would wake up this morning and feel a level of fear that I am not able to comprehend. That while I may have faced some simple name calling or jeering, they would potentially face physical harm and hatred by close minded individuals who now know that they have an enormous portion of the country standing behind them.
It is important to note that exit polls showed 74% of non-whites voting for Clinton and 58% of whites voting for trump. Additionally, 64% of those not born a U.S. citizen voted for Clinton. The unfortunate reality of this suggests that minority groups were largely underrepresented in this election. The outcome of last night’s election is not representative of America as a whole. Rights are useless if they are unable to be exercised. Foreigners and undocumented immigrants are one example of this. One might argue that these groups do not deserve to be able to vote because voting is a sole privilege of American citizens, but I believe this policy is indicative of the unhealthy underlying bias that has plagued America. The overall mindset still remains that those already holding American citizenship should be protected first. However, a large percentage of undocumented immigrants have tried for 10 or 20 years to obtain citizenship. They work tirelessly for this country that refuses to accept them. Their children grow up in this country and call it home, only to be told that they are not Americans. It is incredibly difficult to be approved for citizenship in America because those in power are afraid of what will happen when the oppressed groups receive the same rights as other Americans. For immigrants who are unfamiliar with the legal system and language in America, it is extremely easy for complications to be had in the visa process. 20 years ago, during the Bill Clinton administration and before I was born, my parents and sister were in America with an expired visa. They had no idea that this was the case and only found out when seeing a lawyer for a separate matter. I can only imagine what the ramifications of their error would have been in Trump’s America. Had they been deported for this mistake, I would never have been born and my family would never have had a fraction of the opportunities that they’ve had from being in this country.
What does this mean for people of other ethnicities who live in America? This means that we will have to fight harder than ever. This election only goes to show the great inequality in this country that still exists. It shows that hate can prevail if we allow it to. Now more than ever, we need to look out for each other even if we are not personally affected by this decision. This is a wake-up call to everyone in this country to spread the message of diversity, love, and equality to all areas. These are things that, unfortunately, Donald Trump may never understand, and I will stand against him for the remainder of his time in office. However, this is not synonymous with me being against all of his supporters. The reality is that everyone comes from unique backgrounds. It is naive and wrong to assume that because you personally have certain experiences that make you think one way, everyone else should have had these same experiences. If I had never known diversity and if I were not a minority group myself, I too would find it easy to believe the words of someone who speaks to me in a relatable way.
Venture outside of your cities – there are countless people who have not had opportunities to experience the beauty of diversity. This is the importance of travel. It opens the minds of people to the beauty of every single culture, gender, ethnicity, etc. It is an incredibly humbling process as we learn that it is our responsibility to follow the values of the places we travel. We learn that people everywhere have different life experiences, perspectives, and valuable knowledge to share, and that is to be respected and cherished. Donald Trump will be the President of the United States for the next four years. There is nothing we can do now but find some silver lining in the midst of this disaster. Yes, right now we are angry, and we have every reason to be. Yes, we have taken steps backward and we now have more battles to fight. The important thing to remember is that if we fight against hatred and violence with more hatred and violence, America will never advance. Instead, we must join together in a common purpose and practice what we preach – to love and to accept everyone.
Author: Hope Chen
Student at the University of Michigan with an insatiable desire to travel. I blog about budget travel for students, my spontaneous adventures, and occasionally an outburst about global politics as it relates to travel. Currently planning for another summer in Germany – this time in Berlin.
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