Over the past week, almost all of the conversations that I’ve heard around me were regarding the results from the recent political election. And so if you haven’t heard yet: Mr. Donald Trump is our new president-elect.
The election’s outcome has taken over my coffee runs, my dinners, my email inbox and even my personal thoughts. Nonetheless, I think that it’s crucial to have the conversation because it’s arguably the first time that our society as a collective has been forced to acknowledge all of the bigotry, racism, sexism, and homophobia (despite having existed for years) that make up this country. And although the new president-elect Donald Trump may not necessarily advocate for such hatred (though I would like to argue otherwise), he is an emblem of what America truly is and always has been.
Initially, I was hesitant about voicing my thoughts on the current situation because I was afraid of contradicting other people’s opinions. But then I thought: what do I have to be afraid of? As an Asian-American female, my entire life I’ve been doing everything I can to please others, to watch out for what I say, and to be careful about what I do. All for what… to fit into this “model minority” mold that white America has so graciously constructed for me? If there is one positive thing that this election has taught for me, it’s to say “no thank you”.
Evidently, the announcement of the president-elect on Thursday morning engendered a nationwide shock, particularly among liberals, that has resonated across the globe. While the result may come as a slap in the face, it illustrates that America isn’t as innocent as many thought it was.
The aftermath of the election has allowed us to finally confront the bitter truth that our society has been trying to conceal for years: that America is not a post-racial or post-label society.
However, it is important to note that not everyone is “shocked” and also that the hateful sentiments have always existed. It wasn’t that people all of a sudden decided to be racist, sexist, or homophobic— but rather, since the election, people feel like it’s now “acceptable” to express these views. For years, many different groups, particularly those who have been subjected to systematic oppression, have been trying to convince the white majority of the bigotry and inequalities that still exist. However, instead of eliciting conversation, the minority has been blatantly ignored and dismissed. Hence, this election has elucidated our shortcomings and now America has to take responsibility for its past actions.
Although this election is evidently emblematic of a backwards progression, I believe that a large proportion of people don’t fully understand the history in which the United States has been built upon. People of color in the United States have been oppressed for centuries— including, but not limited to, the denial of equal opportunity to education, the disproportionate imprisonment of the black community, and the discrimination of minorities in the job industry. Ironically, these marginalized individuals are the same individuals that helped America prosper and become successful.
Unfortunately, the textbooks used to teach younger generations about American history often obscure the narratives of people of color and their essential roles in the creation of the nation. For example, it was recently revealed that the social studies curriculum in Texas has misrepresented key concepts of the Civil War era by obfuscating the brutalities of slavery and segregation. The failure to acknowledge the history that has shaped our present hinders dialogue and consequently, perpetuates discrimination. It is no wonder why so many individuals were shocked by the election results and the subsequent exposition of “the silent majority”. However, it is not to say that people don’t have right to be shocked, but rather the thing that’s important to focus on is what happens next. That is, these post-election revelations present an opportunity for our society to take action.
In all, the next steps should begin with education of our history and acknowledgement of the bigotry that exists. However, this should not be the means to an end, but rather a bridge to critical dialogue, and more importantly, towards real change. No matter what happens next, what we do now will have a lasting impact and inevitably define the course of our nation in the years to come.
Photo Credits: Gage Skidmore