I held back the tears because I knew that if I cried, it meant that I didn’t have faith and that things were actually over. I was disgusted. I heard loud chanting and cheering through my dorm walls and it was then that I realized that I was not safe. I knew that going to Cornell would mean that I would be surrounded by an overwhelming amount of white privilege. However, I believed that going to Cornell would also mean I was around educated people who understood the value of a cohesive and united country.
The day before, I attempted to stay up for the results of the election. However, the long day of classes and homework had defeated me and I succumbed to my fatigue around 11PM. My friend stopped me and asked if I was really going to sleep at such an intense moment. I responded simply, “If Donald Trump wins, don’t wake me up.” The next morning, I did wake up. I looked at my phone and saw many texts and instant messages flooding my inbox. The first text that I read was from my soccer coach who said “Christy what are we going to do with this country? What do I say to the students? Someday you’ll run for office and I’ll run your campaign so we can make this right.”
Trump was elected as the 45th president of the United States and I devastated. I would be fine if his election was a hoax because then it meant that he was a puppet in a chair who had no actual power. However, people voted for him; he earned his seat in office democratically. As I went to breakfast, I stared at everyone that walked past me. Possibly they were the ones who voted for someone who demonstrates outright discrimination against people that look like me. I was not safe. It’s like we were going back in time and everything that I said or did could put me at risk of physical and mental harm. I fought back the tears that were at the edge of my eyelids, pushing them back because I knew that this was not the end.
I remember Trump’s speech in Dimondale, Michigan at one of his many rallies. He addressed African Americans and asked, “What do you have to lose by trying something new like Trump?” Everything. My mother immigrated to America from Haiti in order to give my brother and me a better life. I did not take her sacrifice in vein. I work hard in school, became salutatorian of my graduating class, and earned a spot at an Ivy League college. All of this was to prepare myself for a high paying job so that I can provide for myself and my family. Trump running for president, alone, invigorated the white power movement and blatant racism. Now, I was afraid that I was going to be denied of the future that I worked so hard for.
I soon realized that fear was the greatest barrier. It would do me no good to complain or runaway to another country; it would just annihilate all that my mother and I worked for. This is our country just as much as it is anyone else’s. We cannot wage war against oppressive powers but we have renown ours. We must get our education, found businesses, and build schools. We must regain our power and refuse to contribute to this country’s ignorance. Instead, we have been denied our opportunities so we must make our own. Most important of all, we must unite and create a path for ourselves and for future generations.
Trump becoming the next president is not the end of America. If we do not raise our voices and advocate for ourselves, we are only allowing hate to win. This is our country too and it is time that we wake up and take our rightful spots as its caretakers. I have faith in this country, hopefully it has faith in me too.