I am still in a state of shock. The shock is quickly turning to disappointment as the Facebook and face-to-face debates ensue. I had a heated argument with my own mother this morning. She railed me about how I don't understand how corrupt politicians are, especially ones like Hillary Clinton; how career politicians do nothing for the American people and the American people are sick of it. I know she didn't like Obama, likely from the deep-seated prejudices planted in her bosom from childhood to her mugging by a young black man in her own kitchen. Trying to explain to my mother that much of what people are talking about and much of what Trump and his toxic campaign had accused Clinton of were lies fell on deaf ears. Her decision was made without taking any sort of critical look at what the media was dishing out. She, like many other Americans, bought what Trump was selling hook, line, and sinker. And I believe that's all it was, one big sales pitch for Trump. It was a challenge for his colossal ego and he was determined to win, win, win. I'd be willing to bet at least part of him is regretting having run at all now that he's won. I don't think he's up to the task, even in his narcissistic, racist, misogynistic, white supremacist way.
What concerns me the most at this point is the fear and division his victory has caused in my immediate spheres. The polar differences in the thinking of the American people has not only been apparent in my conversation with my mother, who is not only of a different generation, white, and resides on the South Side of Chicago (which is decidedly more conservative and Republican than other areas, at least where people of color are few--Chicago is very segregated still), but also between my Northwest Side neighbors, friends, colleagues, and our South Side friends from childhood and young adulthood, and relatives. Suddenly, people who called themselves old friends are shouting, in person and on social media, airing clearly racist and bigoted views, proudly. Divisions and disagreements that we were secretly aware of, but able to keep out of polite dinner conversations, are surfacing with a vengeance. And that's not the worst part for me. I can get over South Side/North Side disagreements because it's been a part of my life since childhood, but what makes me sick to my stomach are the violently insulting promises Trump has made in his campaign about immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, and other minorities.
I teach adult ESL currently and my students were clearly shaken and scared yesterday and today. They love this country, and I think, are clearly devoted to it because of their desire to be here, work tirelessly, and make a new life so far from what they have known. They've told me as much themselves these past couple of days. This is no easy task and takes a strength most people lack--to leave home, many alone, to a country where everything is different and you don't speak the language or understand the culture, where you may be disrespected for being an immigrant from the start. I respect my students for their courage, differences, and sheer will. I am ashamed that many are now giving up their dreams, right in front of me, to become teachers, business people, American citizens. That kind of fear mongering, in my opinion, is deplorable and decidedly un-American. Presidents in the past have ruled by fear, but Trump is taking it to a whole new level.
My colleague mentioned in our conversation of concern today, almost casually, that Trump's election now gives power to white supremacists everywhere to voice their hate and even act on it. I saw a Jewish shop window today spray painted with "(swastika)-rump." I've heard African-Americans comment that they are fearful of even worse policing policies than the ones they've been fighting emerging now that Trump has won. I've heard Mexican-Americans fearful for their undocumented loved ones. My Muslim students pleaded with me that "Muslims are people too." All I could do was agree and tell them that our government is designed so that Trump can't make those kinds of decisions on his own, and there are many in our government that will oppose him. I can only hope that it is true.