Like many other Americans, I expected Tuesday night to be one of the best nights of my life. I expected to cheer, feel a blanket of relief, and reflect how over the progress we’ve made over the past eight years wouldn’t have been for nothing, and that we’d continue to make incredible strides toward equality, unity and safety for all. However, the early hours of Wednesday morning ended up being the worst of my life; I’ve never sobbed harder or felt so much pain and fear, not only for myself, but also for my friends, neighbors and fellow citizens.
I understand Hillary Clinton is not representative of all women in America; she is a white, wealthy, educated woman and all women should not automatically admire and support her because she’s a woman. Women of color have endured far more than I ever could comprehend, and it’s my hope our future first female president will be more inclusive of all women’s experiences. With my aforementioned statement in mind, I’ve looked up to Hillary since I was a little girl who disregarded conventional standards, voiced her opinions and eventually was a determined eight year old who wanted to become the first female president.
Now as a Barnard student, I look up to Hillary because she is by far the most qualified presidential candidate in our nation’s history. Yet, so many people choose to shame her, hate her, and put her down for a variety of reasons I’ll never understand. She’s endured this upmost hatred while remaining classier, more graceful and more hopeful than I could ever be; I believe her concession speech conveyed that perfectly. That’s why all I want to do at this moment- besides fight for justice- is hug her and thank her for her forty years and counting of public service and using her white privilege to advocate on behalf of marginalized groups.
Hillary’s loss represents the countless times over-qualified women have been and will continue to be screwed over, as well as the fact that gender inequality will ensue as long as a woman isn’t in the White House (and probably even while she is). Hillary did everything right; everything was by the book, she was more than qualified and she continues to fight so hard for everyone with so much grace and poise. But it wasn’t enough, and it makes other women feel like nothing we do will ever be enough.
I spent thirteen years at a predominately white, wealthy, Christian private school in Florida where I was viewed by my peers as the liberal, Jewish feminist. In 2012, I received threats from Romney supporters, my locker was vandalized, and I endured cyberbullying as “consequences” for voicing my support for Obama. I never identified as White, for these bullies were White and I never associated or aligned with them. I was a Jew, an outsider to this White community. This all changed when I came to college; I now understand my privilege as white-passing even though I’m part of an ethnic minority. I must now use my voice to fight for myself and my peers of marginalized identities. I must hold my white peers accountable for how they voted in this election. I must follow Hillary’s lead and act upon the wise words Obama spoke in the wake of this election.
Furthermore, as a sexual assault survivor, I am horrified that a man with pending rape charges who brags about assaulting women is now the country’s President-elect. Young children will grow up in yet another era of objectification, making cis/trans girls and women feel silenced in their own bodies.
I fear for my Muslim friends, my friends of color, my friends with disabilities, and my friends who identify across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. I still fear for my own fate as a Jew; however, I’ve put those fears and angers aside in order to advocate, fight and show the world that I won’t condone the behavior this man incites. I won’t stand by and let children think this is acceptable. Whether that’s through continuing to do my part to end rape culture and hold men accountable for their words and actions, or by accompanying and defending a marginalized neighbor during our morning commute, I won’t allow my friends and loved ones to be subjected to living in fear for four years. I will use my white-passing, heterosexual, educated privilege to keep marginalized groups safe until I’m blue in the face because I refuse to live in a country where hatred prevails over justice.