I am a seventeen-year-old senior at Port Chester High School, an Italian-American lower middle-class educated female. And I just watched my country burn to the ground on November 8th, 2016.
It’s strange to think that our daily lives didn’t stop for this. I still ate lunch, went to work, bought groceries. There is a quiet that wasn’t there before, and a sense that a storm is coming, but that’s it. We will only begin to feel the true detriment of this moment months, maybe years from now. In less noticeable ways. At first we’ll see setbacks in education reform and environmental policies, a more conservative Supreme Court, and strained foreign relations. But the effects of Donald Trump’s election* will eventually manifest itself in higher-than-ever rates of hate crimes and overt discrimination, in increasing failures in our justice system, in a continuation of life below the poverty line, and in many ways we could never imagine.
But what’s most devastating about the results of this election to me is what it tells us about ourselves. It shows us just how many of the people around us have fallen for the shiny veneer that this man coats his destruction in. It tells our children that they are living amongst strangers, neighbors, friends, and family members who believe that violence is tolerable, that hatred is the solution to our problems, and that fear is a necessary tool for a strong leader. We wake this morning,, and every morning hereafter, with the knowledge that half our country stomped on our dreams for a better tomorrow and smiled as they did so.
And so the question now becomes “Where do we go from here?” How do we pick ourselves up from the ground that we’ve been thrown upon and continue fighting? The fight will be harder now, I assure you—harder now than ever. But it doesn’t mean it isn’t worth fighting. We want equality, justice, peace. An old man sitting in a white house on a hill will never be enough to keep us from those things. But we must love, everywhere and everyday, to keep those things alive. Wish well those who would do you harm; show them there is power in kindness.
Don’t be discouraged. Know now that you matter, as you always did. Use your voice, and your mind. Everyday, you will be faced with new challenges and everyday you will be given the chance to make an impact. Take both in stride, take neither for granted.
Where do we go from here? Forward.
*This is not meant to be an attack towards those who voted for Donald Trump, but a voicing of the sadness and hurt felt by myself and many people, today and for a long time to come.