Living in a Red State During the Election

Usually, I don’t mind being from Tennessee. I grew up in Memphis, a large city, so I was surrounded by a variety of cultures and perspectives. There’s never a moment where I’m not learning something new about my city or the people that live here. I’m aware that there are numerous political beliefs since I’m from Tennessee, but I didn’t realize how politically divisive we were until the election season.

I was never really invested in politics. I knew who the presidents were, but I didn’t focus on their policies and affairs. That changed in 2016. I was entering a high school where I was a minority and often the only black student in class. Things were going fine up until the week of November 8th. I noticed both teachers and students getting more and more tense as time went by. No one really talked about the candidates other than the occasional “Are you ready for the election?” and I was nervous as I knew whoever the next president was, the history of our country would truly change. On Election Day, my friends and I had high hopes the results would be in our favor. And as history will tell, they sure didn’t and we had now elected Donald Trump as president.

I will never forget the morning of November 9th. As I got dressed for school, I surely thought that most students would feel the same as me and we could talk about our feelings together - I was so wrong! Getting out of my mom’s car, what I saw was terrifying. Students were standing in the parking lot waving American flags, cheering, and taunting other students, mostly minorities. Also, many guys were dancing on their trucks wearing “Trump 2020” shirts. I remember running inside to avoid being harassed and yelled at. I tried to stay with my friends whenever we were together as I was afraid of something scary happening. I also noticed that some of my teachers seemed perkier than usual and others were agitated and giving more work. I avoided eating lunch in the cafeteria that day to avoid potential conflicts with students. That afternoon, I was so excited to go home and be with my family.

I’ve never experienced any other day like that while in high school. Of course we had the students that made hateful and insensitive comments towards others, but overall school was fairly calm. By 2019, I knew that we had another election coming up and I would have the opportunity to vote. We would occasionally talk about politics in some of my classes like history and English, but the topic often skewed right. I was sometimes afraid of talking about Democratic candidates as some students would make fun of them or often not give students a chance to speak on them. After the primaries in March, I knew that this election would be heated. I started doing more research on candidates of both state and federal levels in hopes of voting for who I believed would help the country.

Now in November, Election Day had passed and luckily, it went in our favor!  I was so excited as I got to see history being made in my lifetime. While this year, I didn’t hear people talk politics, you could often see their views being expressed in their clothing, homes, and even social media. Leading up to Election Day, I saw more and more “Trump 2020” signs and flags fill the yards of many Tennesseans. Since the election lasted much longer this year, I couldn’t help but stay glued to my phone. I noticed that some of my former classmates were spreading misinformation online and even bashing students for their choices in candidates. I couldn’t help but feel really jealous of my friends that lived in more Democratic states who probably don’t experience what we do. I even made a vow to move to a Democrat state once I graduated college.

Though this election season wasn’t as scary as it was in 2016, I couldn’t help but feel anxious and stressed. The day when the results were announced, I felt nervous going in public. I know it’s silly, but with the way 2020 has been I didn’t want to take any chances. Luckily, I haven’t heard any bad news out of both my city and state. Now, I am happy to see what changes can come in the next four years! I am hoping for the best and excited to see what happens in the new era of our government.