Facing Rejection in the 2016 Election

By Ayah Elarabi (Colgate University Undergraduate)

In my past experiences, the worst part about rejection has always been the moment when I unwillingly realize that the excuses I have constructed, in an attempt to convince myself that there is logical reasoning as for why I was rejected, are merely just that. They are ideas that I fabricated in an attempt to make myself feel included and, most importantly, loved. On the night of the 2016 election, I felt the greatest amount of rejection in my entire life. I felt rejection from an entire country; my country. 

It has been more than two days and I am still mourning what was a mutual loving relationship between me and America. I feel betrayed, but I also feel like a fool to think that being born and raised in this country would be enough for the nation itself to label me as a true American. A fool to think that there was no way that Donald Trump, a man who completely refused to acknowledge the possible intersection of a Muslim and American identity, my identity, could be elected President. A fool to think that the word “American” is a broad term that wants to include the identities of Muslims, Latinx, Blacks, other POC, Women, LGBTQ+, Immigrants, the Disabled, etc. 

During that point of realization, I finally allowed myself to be conscious of the idea that “Making America Great Again” simply means taking the country back before I, and people like me, had a voice. On the night on his election, Trump tweeted, “Such a beautiful ad important evening! The forgotten man and woman will never be forgotten again […]” The forgotten man and woman, he said. I cannot begin to comprehend how a white person in this era could ever feel forgotten. One of my professors has a theory that Trump is referring to the relative loss of white power in the country. That when they say jump, we do not fulfill their command; and if we do jump, we are not doing it as quickly as we used to. 

I watched the results in the common room of my first-year dorm. At one point during the results, a boy got a call from his grandmother. He answered the phone in Spanish, walking away from the sitting area. Upon his return, I overheard him say to one of his friends that his grandmother had been praying all week, and that she feared the future considering her lack of citizenship. Later during the night, an international friend of mine stopped by. He looked at the results with sadness in his eyes as his father is a Muslim that lives overseas. His main concern was that his father would not be able to attend his graduation. Following this, a white male walked into the room, looked at the numbers and shrugged. “My life won’t change,” he said. How could he stand there, in the middle of a room full of marginalized people, people that Trump has attacked, and have the audacity to not care? A girl, a friend of mine, who I knew had voted for Trump stated her reasoning as an economic experiment. I felt jealous. Jealous of the mere fact that she could afford to use her vote as for science. One of my middle school teachers on Facebook gave her vote to Trump because she did not want to put the country’s national security at stake. How can one care about the security of a country if the person does not care about the people who inhabit it? 

I believe that after the point of realization comes healing. The tweet that I mentioned above ends with this: “We will all come together as never before.” In this case, Trump is right. We are Muslims, Latinx, Blacks, other POC, Women, LGBTQ+, Immigrants, Disabled, and any other identity that has felt degraded by Trump and our country who elected him. We are the people that will come together like never before. Yet, simultaneously, we must strive to not let this country exist in a dichotomy. We must put faith in our allies and strive to forgive those who rejected us. When the ties between different identities that make up America are close, I believe that there will be greater chance to live in harmony.