24 hours ago, news media cycles all over the world began reporting the results of the 2016 American Presidential election as polling stations across the East coast began to close. 9 hours later, to the utter disbelief of liberals, feminists, the LGBTQ+ community, people of colour, and immigrants across the world, it was announced that Donald Trump would be the new President of the United States.
How could this happen? I shed real tears wrapped up on my couch as I heard Hilary concede. Cried for a woman who specifically called out to young women like me, told little girls around the world:
Clearly, secure in my liberal bubble in Toronto, surrounded by liberal friends in a liberal leaning country, I had been so sure that we were on the cusp of the first female President. Despite her email scandal, despite her overly polished demeanour, I was so certain that on the heels of Justin Trudeau’s appointment in Canada, America was set to take, in my opinion, a monumental step forward.
How could I have been so wrong?
There is clearly an undercurrent of hatred that runs through the world, and it is not silent. We saw it in the monkey-ish, sexist, xenophobic actions of former Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott. Far away from home in the Northern Hemisphere, I was able to ignore him and his fiery shit-storm. We saw it with Brexit.
When you breakdown the numbers of Brexit and the Presidential election, there is a huge disconnect between young and old, educated and undereducated, rich and poor.
I had a conversation post Brexit with someone, a sixty-ish White British immigrant to Canada, someone who has lived in Ontario for 30+ years. Someone who’s kids and grandkids are Canadian. Do you know what that person said to me?
He was happy that the U.K had voted leave, he was ready for immigration to be curbed in England, and for things to go back to “the good old days.”
I was gobsmacked. What the actual fuck? How does someone, an immigrant no less, hold such a view? A view that runs CONTRARY to his standing IN THAT MOMENT, in a foreign country with his foreign lineage?
And what are the good old days pray tell? The ones where women had even less equality? Where sexuality was anybodies business? The good old days where people of colour enjoyed even less representation and rights?
I hold myself in part accountable for the state of the world. I am an educated, middle-class, straight, white woman who has travelled extensively. And at times, I have stood by and I have done nothing. I have been afraid to call myself a feminist publicly, and while I have voiced my opinion quietly at appropriate times, I have refused to get involved in the often times messy debates and calls to action. Live and let live, I have always thought.
Donald Trump becoming President changes that for me.
No, I am not an American, and I don’t believe I deserve a say in who the American people elect as their leader.
But I am a citizen of the world, someone who wants to live with love and tolerance. I want equality for all people, not more for others and less for some. And I have quietly hoped that there are others out there, just like me who will eventually outnumber people with fear in their hearts.
Well, shame on me.
Shame on me for my lack of action. Shame on me for not wanting to rock the boat with my opinions. Shame on me for hoping that someone else will stand up and say what needs to be said.
I have spent the day reading and discussing the results of last night with other people around the world. I have sensed the anger bubbling, the frustration mounting.
My tipping point has been reached.
I believe in free speech, and I believe that the Trump supporters have every right to their opinions.
They were sick of what they perceived as a broken system, and they came together to fight for what they believed in.
But now, we must do the same.
Getting to work. Starting now.