Posted by: smstrouse | November 14, 2016

A Young Person’s Response to the Election

This letter was received in time for our worship service yesterday. The writer is a young woman in her second year of college here in California. We watched her grow up in the congregation and take on leadership both in helping to lead worship, but also in mentoring other young people. I can’t begin to express how proud I am of her.
Here is her letter:

Dear First United,

There are so many thoughts and feelings that I have following this election.

Watching the coverage of the election and slowly watching the states place their votes with Trump will be a moment that I’ll never forget. Everyone was so confident that Clinton would win. How could we be so wrong with our predictions?

This election was shocking. It proved that white supremacy is alive today. In California, we get stuck in a bubble. We forget that most of the country does not think as we do. This election was an important eye-opener for us, and hopefully we can gain something from it.

As we were gathered around watching the election, something stuck out for me. One of my friends, who does identify as a conservative Republican, was becoming increasingly anxious during the coverage. This is a man who refused to vote for either candidate, because he could not vote for someone that he did not believe in. As we were watching the election though, he was becoming more and more distraught. This was because he realized, for the first time, how much he really did not want Trump to win. Here he was, rooting for a woman that he hated, because the other candidate’s win was too unbearable to believe in. I realized something in this moment. When did I start thinking of the world as Democrats vs. Republicans? This is the hate that Trump has been preaching; the us vs. them ideology. He played off the fears of the country. And now I am afraid of what the future might hold for those that are deemed as “different.” I realized that in the coming years, it will be important for us to work together to create a safe America, where everyone feels welcome.

Following this election, it has become obvious that not everyone is welcome in America. As a women, I have seen the impact that this election has had on the gender that I identify with. The other day, a girl in my class said that she did not vote for Hillary because a woman could not be president. A girl in California who is pursuing her higher education degree believes this. It is also important to note that this was during a Women Writer’s course.

Also, when Hillary gave her concession speech she said, “To the little girls out there, never doubt that you are valuable, and powerful, and deserve every opportunity to pursue and achieve your own dreams”. How often do you see a white man coming out and telling white boys that they can be anything they want to be? You don’t. Because white boys already know this. Girls still have to be reminded that they can do whatever they want, because they do not know that. Apparently, women can do anything they want, as long as it does not interfere with the patriarchy.

Currently, most people in America are fearful for the next few years. My campus has created safe places where students can come and talk about their feelings concerning the election. Growing up in a white middle-class family has made these conversations challenging for me. Sitting in a class where my peers express their concerns for their illegal immigrant families has opened my eyes. I personally do not have to deal with those same fears. Even Latinos, Muslims, Asians, etc. that are American citizens, are still having to face persecution:

  1. I pray for the group of boys that took off a girl’s hijab at Plano East Senior High.
  2. I pray for the students in DeWitt, Michigan that formed a physical wall around the school blocking Latino students from entering.
  3. I pray for street vendor that yelled, “hey guys, at least it will be legal to grab p****” and high-fived a group of men on the street who were laughing.
  4. I pray for the Muslim family that woke up to a sign outside their house that said, “you can leave now.” This was in the Bay Area.
  5. I pray for all the instances that have gone undocumented, and for all the people that are now fearful for their safety.

I feel a disconnect with what is going on in America. As a white heterosexual Christian, I do not have to worry about these same oppressions. However, that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t be a part of it. I want to be actively engaged in the current conversations. I believe in civil disobedience. I believe in the ability to express our First Amendment right by peaceful protests.

We, as Americans, have been complacent for too long. The current generation never lived through the Civil Rights Movement, the AIDS epidemic, the Vietnam protests, women’s suffrage, etc.   It is time that we struggle and fight for something that we believe in.

To those that believe that Trump will be unable to create his laws or build a wall, look at the incidents that I have written above. There is already a wall in America. It is important for us to ban together and tear down this wall.

It is fine to mourn. I have been in mourning and using this time to sort through and understand my feelings. Writing this letter became a great way for me to purge/be mindful of my own feelings. However, we cannot become complacent to what is going on in the world. Finish mourning, and use that drive to fuel your hopes and desires for America.

To the young people, get off social media. What laws have ever actually been passed because of it? Nothing. Laws are changed by going to court, protesting, and writing to our elected officials. Not by stating an opinion online to your friends, most of whom have the same opinion as you anyway. We need to change the mind of others, and that is done through education. My hope is that I can go out and enact change, hopefully with you by my side.

I do feel like the government failed me. However, I am a Political Science Major for a reason. I have faith in America and in a government that wants to help its people. And I want to be a part of that.

My hope is that the president-elect, and those coming into power, will not use hate to create new laws. I hope that the country will stay open-minded and that we will help Trump be successful in his presidency. If something happens that we do not agree with, it is our duty as citizens to stand up and enact change.

Although this feels like 10 steps in the wrong direction, hopefully we can use this to take 30 steps forward.

Thank you,

Stephanie

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