Dear Educated Trump Tolerators and Supporters

By Diana Ding

I would like to preface this letter with my painfully heartfelt support for everyone in the US who identify with a minority race, sex, gender, sexuality, religion, or any other marginalized group and who have been deeply affected - mentally, emotionally, and even physically in many cases - by the outcome of this election. I stand with you, and I will stand for you over the next four years and for the rest of my life. 

Dear Educated Trump Tolerators and Supporters,

I have tried really hard over the past few days to understand you. I have tried to understand why you voted for him or for a third-party candidate, and why you are frustrated that people who profess to be open-minded refuse to even consider your views. I have done so not only because I think that it is the only way to attain an America acceptable to everyone, but also because by virtue by being a human being, you gain my concern about you and your well-being, my basic respect, and my desire to trust that you have the best interests at heart. 

And I write specifically to you, because my thoughts over the past few days have led me to the following conclusion: I can not pretend to understand the financial hardships of those who do not think that they can feed their families under Clinton. Nor can I in this single letter take away the educational obstacles of those who have never had the opportunity to interact positively with those of different races and religions and sexualities, nor the encouragement to form their own opinions, nor the training to think through issues in a logical fashion. And I understand that my privilege in being educated does not make me superior to these people. Rather, my letter does not address them because their experience is so vastly different than my own that I do not feel equipped yet to communicate effectively with them. If you identify with either this lack of financial stability or this lack of education, do not expect the rest of this letter to be a direct response to your political choices.

Now to the rest of you. To those whose primary concern after the election is that you do not feel as though you can safely say that you are a supporter of Trump, or even that you do not think that Trump is significantly worse than Hillary. I get it. 

I get that you are not all horrible people who hate all Hispanics, blacks, Muslims, women, those in the LGBTQ+ community, and the other minorities that Trump has disrespected. I get your frustrations concerning the assumptions that people make about you based on a single characteristic, and how those assumptions keep them from listening to you. I get not feeling as though your opinion is respected, I get feeling as though people who seem to accept everyone else don’t accept you. I understand. 

I understand because I am an Asian-American woman who, despite having lived in the US for her whole life, still has a faint accent on which well-meaning people continue to comment, without suspecting that she used to be bullied for it in the very heart of liberal America, the SF Bay Area. I understand because my voice in classrooms and even at dinner tables is still cut off by male peers without anyone noticing, let alone commenting, let alone condemning. I understand because I and some of my closest friends now live in fear after seeing the harassment of POC and women by Trump supporters that has spiked over the past few days. 

I understand not feeling as though my opinion is important, because I’ve lived with that feeling my entire life. I understand the emotions evoked by having assumptions made about me based on a single characteristic of mine, because that is my reality in every interaction I make.

So bringing this back to you, I know that you at heart just do not want to be seen as inherently evil due to your beliefs. I know some of you do not agree with Trump’s remarks about these minority groups, even though you are still okay with him being president. My response to you is this: maybe it’s true. Maybe you don’t hate minority groups. Maybe you don’t even believe all the stereotypes about us.

You just didn’t care about us. You didn’t actively want us to die - but it was okay with you if we did. 

It’s okay with you that the day after the election, a white male Trump supporter pretended to shoot one of my Hispanic classmates a block away from my dorm. It’s okay with you that the day after the election, an Asian-American man had to run for his life from two white male Trump supporters, barely making it inside his car before they caught up with him and proceeded to try to smash open his car window. It’s okay with you that I now question my and my friends’ physical safety in my own home and country, that because of the election results, my roommates and I need to take self-defense classes. 

It’s okay with you that the outcome of this election has validated the beliefs of people who do actively hate us. Maybe you aren’t the people who are attacking us. But ultimately, our pain and our danger was okay with you.

Is it still?