Since 9 p.m. last Tuesday night, I have been experiencing a cycle of emotions. At one moment, I feel dejected, confused and disempowered. Moments later I am filled with an anger that brings me to the brink of absolute disillusionment. I constantly find myself looking for some meager glimmer of hope in a future where Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States. A future where almost half of our voters, especially those who identify as white, think they have made America great. In reality, it is impossible to be great under the exclusionary ideals of our new president-elect. Our nation is not currently great, but we can change that. We must commit to combatting Donald Trump’s divisive rhetoric through inclusive actions. We cannot forget the importance of having hope that these very actions will create a nation that we all can call great.
Ever since the night of the election, I have been consistently asked one question: “Is this now the world we live in?” Yes. It is. But I still endeavor to have hope that our world will not always be divided by hate and ignorance.
First, we must remember that we have a voice. And we have to be brave and brazen enough to use it. The Senate and House may have Republican majorities, but we cannot forget the representation we do have in these governing bodies and the fact that the Grand Ole Party itself is intensely divided. We must rely on those around us, regardless of party affiliations, who also condemn hate, bigotry, misogyny and racism in all its iterations. And most importantly, we must commit to these actions while remembering to take care of ourselves — this is going to be a fight and although no fight is painless, this one is worth it.
Second, we construct hope and embrace action, although it is not going to be an easy task. As Maya Angelou reminds us, “they who have hope have everything.” Countless people have told me they are shocked by the election results and by the recent verbal, physical and emotional violence wrought by members of this country against marginalized individuals. Though I understand the shock, this energy can be more constructively channeled toward political activity rather than put into passively scanning news clippings. It is critical to remember that these actions are not new; our nation is built on white supremacy and male superiority, and racism not only exists but has been thriving systemically in our daily lives.
I think that now, more than ever, it is important that I be explicitly clear who comprises this nation and who is included when I use the pronoun “we.” With this simple, two-letter word, I mean to represent each member of this country: people of color, women, members of the LGBTQIA+ community, Muslim and Sikh individuals and members of all marginalized groups.
We comprise this increasingly complicated, confused and potentially great nation. Not a nation based on Trump’s greatness, but instead based on true greatness, defined by equity and created by constructive critique and founded on unity despite our individual differences. I admire and give credit to the immense social and political progress countless activists, politicians and average citizens have made, but also I am firm in my belief that there is still work to be done.
At the same time, I struggle to understand how to work under a president-elect who ran a campaign oppressing, alienating and objectifying the very same people he sought to lead. I grapple with the honest and desperate truth that our country’s system, and approximately 60, 371,193 Americans, elected a man who has multiple sexual assault allegations out against him, dismisses them as “locker room talk” and chose a running mate who supports conversion therapy.
Our country is structurally flawed and needs drastic transformation. I do not have all the answers, but I am willing to commit to the work that needs to be done in order to better this country for each and every one of its members. I am holding on to hope. And as members of this country, we must dedicate ourselves to creating hope through daily actions that propel us towards the goal of true greatness.
Kelsey Martin is a sophomore sociology major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.