By now, I think it’s safe to say that pretty much everyone has heard the news of Donald Trump being elected President of the United States. By now, I have no doubt that people have consumed the news and reactions about this election in many ways on a daily/ moment-to-moment basis. When I first saw that Trump had emerged victorious, I was in shock. Even before the official announcement, I began to feel the dread grow slowly in the pit of my stomach. As I walked home from school that day, weaving through crowds of students with their eyes glued to their devices, watching as the map of the United States was painted red, I felt alone. As the day drew to a close in Tokyo, I sat in my dorm room and stared numbly at the unbelievable results. I thought surely this was some sort of sick joke. They must have made some sort of mistake when counting the votes. I waited and waited for the news to report that a mistake had been made but as the evening went on, the results remained the same.
After the shock had passed, the sadness came, and soon after, came the anger. How could we have made so much progress as a nation only to be violently pushed back in a matter of days? How could we let this happen? And most of all, what are we going to do now? These past few days, my thoughts about this election have been running through my mind non-stop and I’m still far from knowing how to feel or how to make a difference. That being said, if there is one thing that I know for sure, it’s that Trump’s presidency threatens diversity, love, equality and all of the things that I stand for. I refuse to idly stand by and watch as the rights that so many people have fought for are dismissed by a man who has never faced true adversity in his privileged life.
But how do we fight this? How do we come to terms with what has happened? Should we come to terms with what has happened?
As I mentioned before, social media has been inundated by opinions about how to handle Trump’s election, and I can’t seem to decide on the best way to move forward. Some people joke about leaving the country, some call upon others to stand up and fight, and some just want to put all of this behind them and leave it up to fate. With so many emotions involved, it’s hard to determine what is best for us and our country. Part of me wants to make jokes and cover up how horrible this situation is with humor but another part of me wants to join the protests and take a more serious approach. As I watch President Obama and leaders from around the world, offer their congratulations to Trump, a large part of me can’t bring myself to feel at peace about what is going on. It almost feels like giving up and giving up is the last thing that I want to do. I don’t want to simply ‘survive’ the next four years under Trump’s toxic presidency. I don’t want hate crimes to become a norm. I don’t want the communities that Trump has threatened and undermined to feel unsafe and unwanted. No one should have to sit back and accept such blatant discrimination.
Being in Japan during this turbulent time has been a relief just as much as it has been a struggle. I can step away from my computer and go about my day in a society that isn’t directly feeling the effects of the election. Sure, the news will briefly report about it, the newspapers will have articles about it, but people probably won’t be talking about it with their friends. Being so far away from where all of this is happening, I have the option of shutting off the news and pretending like none of this applies to me. Except it does. As a woman, as a minority and as a human that genuinely cares about the well-being of others, I cannot afford the luxury of being ignorant. While I enjoy the peace that my distance from the US brings, I’ve decided that I need to be equally involved in what’s going on back at home. I can only hope that being on the outside looking in will let me think more rationally about how to move forward from this moment in history and how to make sure that this will never happen again. I hope that other people will do the same.
I don’t intend on ending this mini rant on a negative or pessimistic note. There are many things that can be learned from this election and I believe that this will be a time when people realize that real change is needed. Change that has nothing to do with the economy, business, or politics but has everything to do with humanity and morality. I feel so much hope when I think of the people who are and have been standing up for their rights and when I think of my friends and family who bring positivity to this world on a daily basis. Because these people exist, I can afford not to give up on America. Because of these people, I have the strength to step up and let my voice be heard.
Thanks for reading! :)