What a Paradoxical World We Live In
By Irene Choi (Age 16, Roscoe, Illinois)
Every morning. Every morning, of my twelve year identity as a student, I have promptly stood up at 8:55 AM to proudly place my right hand over my beating heart, pledging my allegiance to the United States of America.
The land of prosperity.
A landscape of higher education for my father.
A new beginning for my mother.
And a home to me and my brother.
Every morning I pledged my allegiance to a country who gave my family a fighting chance.
Yet, on Wednesday morning November, 9, I found it particularly difficult to stand for a nation that I have so much respect for. For a nation that prides itself as a colorful medley of individuals coming from all walks of life. A nation recognized for its tolerance, acceptance, and love.
‘How could I stand in allegiance with those who believe that the same chances I have been so undeserving of, can no longer be afforded to others?’
’How could I stand in allegiance with those who celebrated, in the wake of the most terrifying night of my life?’
‘How could I stand in allegiance with those who continually excuse ignorance, hatred, sexism, racism, homophobia, and xenophobia?’
What a paradoxical world we live in. Where the very values we teach our children, are completely disregarded when voting for the nation’s highest office. It pains me to think that 60,350,241 individuals cast their single, valuable vote standing for everything we are striving against, as morally sound, functioning members of society. This election was greater than political partisanship. This election has bred a culture of animosity unknown to all prior years of politics. It’s made a society blind to its own privilege. And I fear that the outcome of this election will further prompt a regressive, hateful, ignorant America. An America that I am not proud to be a part of.
With a heavy heart, I am grieving. Not only for those who live in fear of the unknown, not only for those who are questioning the immense strides America has made by the backbreaking efforts of millions. But I also grieve for the Americans who are privileged enough to know, that the outcome of this election will only be seen but not felt. I grieve for the children who will question their safety, and for the parents who will have to provide an answer, that they too are uncertain of.
While I could say that my experience as a young Korean American woman (growing up in both the Midwest and the South) has been one of nothing but acceptance and compassion, it would be naive of me not to recognize the instances of blatant racism and sexism. Yet, despite my encounters, I am acutely aware that my experiences are few and far between in comparison to many of my peers. I know that I walk through the world differently than so many others. And I hope I can use my unintentional prerogative to mobilize change.
I have so many questions. So many questions my parents cannot answer. So many questions my friends cannot answer. So many questions, that even my closest confidant, my big brother, cannot answer. I do not know what the future holds for me or my fellow millennials and minorities. I do not know what the future holds for my LGBTQ+ friends, my Muslim friends, or my undocumented friends.
But what I do know is that…
I have woken up every single day since Tuesday, and the earth has not stopped spinning.
I have woken up every single day since Tuesday, and gone to class, facing my peers.
I have woken up every single day since Tuesday, and have felt more empowered to speak my mind than ever before.
While I know that my initial fear has slightly subsided, that is not a reality for so many others out there. I pray for love, I pray for hope, and I pray for compassion. My pride for the America I know, is strong, and ever growing. And that is something that this election cannot steal from me.