What I’m about to say may cause some of you to unfriend or attack me, but I feel the need to be honest …
I have been of age to vote for the past two elections. I did not vote in 2012. Luckily, our nation made what I believe was the right decision, and Obama was reelected. I do not love Hillary although I believe she was the better candidate, and I am terrified of Trump. But again, I made the poor decision not to vote in this year’s election.
Growing up, my family never really talked about politics, or even racism/sexism for that matter. This lack of dialogue may be due to the fact that my sisters and I have an opposing view compared to my parents, and to discuss it would cause fighting and tension. So since coming to college, it has been up to me to educate myself on certain topics.
After four years at Agnes Scott, my college’s mission statement is now familiar if not memorized: we are an institution that “educates women to think deeply, live honorably and engage the intellectual and social challenges of their times,” and with the results of the election this week, I realized I have been selective in how I apply that mission statement to my own life. To choose awareness and be actively engaged is hard work, it takes a lot energy, and when it comes to things that require a lot of energy, I often choose avoidance, I choose the stance of “maybe tomorrow,” until it is too late.
Many people are just as shocked as I am. I did not expect half of the country to vote for Trump. I did not expect my country to choose a hate-filled man as our president. Maybe I was too hopeful, I was too trusting. Racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and other forms of hate are still alive and well and on a level bigger than I had even thought to imagine, and by abstaining my vote, I made room for the people who hold hate in their hearts to make a decision for me.
I kept asking myself on Tuesday: Will God allow this man to become president? Will He step in and influence the final decision? Part of me told myself, if God let this happen, I would be angry with Him, that it would change the way I feel about Him, but the following morning when I woke up and saw the results, the anger did not come, and I realized God did not do this. Our country did this. I did this.
I am afraid of the despair people are feeling right now and how this election will affect their view of God. I am afraid of the question, “Where is your God now? How could He let this happen?” Yesterday a Facebook friend posted, “Stop telling me to pray harder and let go and let God. God. Is. Not. In. Control.” I almost fell into my own place of despair after reading this, but the long string of comments people left revived me. The first comment simply said: “We are the hands of Christ. God is with us. We are the hands.”
Sitting down and expecting God to take control is not always the answer, because yes, he has given me hands. He has given me the agency to make a difference. Another woman’s post reminded me of God’s heart when his people are hurting. He has been with us in all of our history’s pain and sadness, and for those who are mourning right now—yes, God is still with us. He is crying with us. It feels like a setback now, but what has happened this week will incite change. Good works will come from this. My friend Bethaney recently started a blog about God’s concern for racial reconciliation, and it has been giving me life. I have gone back and reread her post, “Well…its Election Day,” several times this week.
The past several days all my emotions of anger, fear, hurt, sadness, and guilt have come out in the form of tears. All of this has reminded me that I am living in a country where a large majority of the population does not value me, and now, I am soon to have a president who will not stand for me. I cannot help but think of all the people I have let down, especially the women who came before me. As women of color, we have come from a history where we are continually broken down and silenced. At one point, we weren’t even given the right to be people, let alone to vote.
My grandma, the child of a black woman and Puerto Rican man, found a way to get out and vote for Hillary, and when she heard that Trump had won, she cried. My mother, a Cuban immigrant who came to the states with her mother as a little girl, sent me a selfie, her “I voted” sticker showing proudly on her jacket. She texted me, asking: “Hola love! Did U get out and Vote today?” I never responded. I wish I could have been home this week to hug these women and process with them and tell them we had done everything we possibly could, but that would have been a lie, at least on my part.
I am still sad and hurting, I am still terrified, but I have already come out of this election changed. From this point onward, I will never not vote again, and apart from my own personal responsibility as an active citizen, I hope you will give me grace and keep me accountable. My heart is heavy for all the minorities who will be victim to even more oppression in Trump’s upcoming presidency and, also, how their lives might change in the oncoming months and years. To anyone who has/will experience persecution in this country: I apologize and promise to do better.