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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

By Andrea Perez

The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.​

I am speechless, but I know that if ever there was a time to speak, it is now. It is time to speak loudly and often. For me, this election was not one of liberal versus conservative. Last night, we fought for the dignity and the very soul of this country. We saw a victory for hate and a defeat for America.

This election brought out the ugliest side of the United States. My people were dehumanized. The Trump campaign ignorantly grouped and belittled the rich diversity of narratives of immigrant families like mine in one destructive, racist sweep. My mother’s father spent much of his time away from his family. He came to this country with a work visa in order to send money back, and only returned a handful of times every year. Eventually, he was able to acquire green cards for my grandmother and his ten children. My aunts and uncles are now teachers, counselors, homeowners, landowners, college graduates, mothers, fathers, and American citizens. They love this country, they serve this country, and they are American in every sense of the word. Their stories are their own, as are the stories of millions of immigrants who make up the heart of this country. Trump cannot and will never take that from us. We cannot let him divide us.

To those who voted for Trump—I know you don’t need validation from me on your choices, but this needs to be said. I am sorry the system has failed you to the extent that you saw this choice as your way out. I am sorry you have felt that your most treasured values have been demeaned and tossed aside by the machine. The system has failed all of us. I urge you to remember that hate and division is not the way to change. I remind you that when token Republican posterchild, and my favorite president, Abraham Lincoln chose to engage in civil war, pitting neighbor against neighbor as we have seen happen in this election, his primary motive was keeping the country united. I want you to know that I value your ideals and beliefs as part of the dialogue toward achieving real positive change. Donald Trump does not represent your ideals. He does not share your values. Let us help you reclaim your party and your beliefs.

To those who espouse hate and separatism—You do a disservice to yourself and to your country to which you claim to be so loyal. I have no other words for you, and I hope the next four years will bring you clarity.

To those who are afraid, hurt, and confused—Please, do not turn to hate. Rise above. Right now is time to mourn, because the soul of America is lying on its death bed. Right now is the time to come together as one nation, indivisible. It is not acceptable to speak about change and simultaneously engage in inexcusably divisive rhetoric. Don’t engage in separatist fantasies of leaving the country or your state seceding from the union. We are stronger together, and we cannot be the America we want to be without the diversity and differences which define our nation. Adversity must become dialogue. Dialogue must become compromise. And compromise will give us change. Now is the time to come together as Americans. We do not look the same and may not share all the same beliefs and values, but we do not stand for hate. We do not stand for misogyny. We do not stand for racism. We do not stand for injustice.

To my fellow Berkeley students—I give you this quote. “There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.” We’ve all heard it. We all know it. It is now our time to live it. The machine is broken yet we continue to let it run. That being said, be smart, be safe, and be kind. Spread love not hate. Our mission is not to present problems and to assign blame. We know the problems and and blame is pointless. It’s time to change the machine and to come together for the sake of this country and for the sake of each American’s right to think, say, and do as their value system would have it. The machine will be made to work for all Americans of all walks of life. We will be free. 

To all of my fellow Americans—I am proud of the unprecedented levels of voter turnout. No matter how you cast your ballot, I hope you realize that your vote and your opinion is valuable. I still believe in us. We need only choose to stand together and not apart. This election has lit a fire beneath us, and we will not lose that momentum. We do not stand for violence. We do not stand for oppression. We do not stand for prejudice. We stand for hope and we stand for change.

Iris was the associate editor at Her Campus. She graduated from UCLA with a degree in communications and gender studies, but was born and raised in France with an English mother. She enjoys country music, the color pink and pretending she has her life together. Iris was the style editor and LGBTQ+ editor for HC as an undergrad, and has interned for Cosmopolitan.com and goop. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @irisgoldsztajn, or check out her writing portfolio here.