We Too, Shall Overcome

By Julia Wilkinson

Like many others, I have been devastated by the news that Donald Trump is going to be our next president. During the primaries, I was an avid Bernie Sanders supporter, but as I woke up on November 8th, I was excited and proud to cast my ballot for Hillary Clinton. I was wholeheartedly ready to see the first woman elected president. And as someone living in Massachusetts who is surrounded by a lot of Democrats, I expected her to win. I thought it would be close, sure, but never did I imagine a win for Trump. 

It has taken me a few days to process this, and it may take a few more. There have been so many thoughts running through my head that it’s been hard to pin them all down and assess them. I am conflicted on how to feel about the outcome of this election. I am flooded with emotions of fear, anger, hurt, and sadness. Part of me wants to attest that it is the end of the world, that there is no more human decency and compassion left, and that hate has won. Part of me wants to crawl into a hole and never come out. But I know better. I know that this is not the end, and that we must keep fighting for what is right. While the election of Trump is extremely discouraging, we must believe that there is still hope left. 

Some people have criticized me for my “extreme” reaction to this news. But you do not get to tell me how to mourn. You cannot tell people that they’re being over dramatic or immature because they’re upset over the results of this election, over the fact that America just elected a bigoted monster to be president. As a woman, I am fearful. As someone with LGBT friends, I am fearful. As someone with latina, colored, and muslim friends, I am fearful. As someone with a compassion for other people and their human rights, I am fearful for minorities in this country. I have seen all sorts of videos, pictures, and stories that have been circulating around the internet depicting the horrendous hate crimes that have been committed against them after the election in the name of their lord and savior Trump. It is absolutely disgusting and chills me to my bone. 

And on a more personal note, as someone whose dad was just recently laid off (around a month ago), and then about two weeks later diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and as someone whose mother has suffered from MS for the past 20 years, I am worried. I am worried about our financial future and our readily available access to health care. My dad’s company has decided to restore our health care for a certain period of time because he was laid off and not fired, but this will only last for so long. If Obamacare is repealed, I could be denied health insurance on the basis that both of my parents suffer from pre-existing conditions. I suffer from depression and anxiety, and if I don’t have health care I will be paying $300 a month for my prescriptions, as I did last week before our healthcare was temporarily restored. Ever too plausible scenarios such as these of how my family and friends will be negatively affected plague my thoughts.

So for rich white males to say that I, or anyone else, is “over reacting” infuriates me because this election won’t affect them in the same way that it will minorities. You don’t risk having your right to a safe and legal abortion taken away, you don’t risk having your right to marry who you want to taken away, you don’t risk having your healthcare taken away, etc. It is not your place to attack anyone for feeling upset over the outcome of this election just because you aren’t at risk personally. I beg for you to have some human compassion, try to understand the fear that people are feeling. Try to reach out and help them, rather than criticize them and deem them over dramatic crybabies. 

I am writing this piece because I want us to be able to move forward as a country, despite this enormous setback. I love seeing all of these peaceful protests happening all across America (and I attended one today in Boston), but we need to do more. We need to write to our congress people, tell them how we’re feeling and what we’d like from them. We need to educate people to be more tolerant of one another and to try to exercise deeper empathy. We need to make it clear that this is not what America values. I want everyone to remember that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Trump’s America is not our America, and we need to be ready to fight any dangerous policies he might try to impose. We need to let the democrats in congress know that they should be ready to fight back and do whatever it takes, filibusters, sit-ins, anything. 

In my head as I continue to try to come to terms with the outcome of this election, the song “We Shall Overcome” has been playing on repeat. Part of me believes it is a bit too hopeful, but then I remember a clip I saw awhile back of Joan Baez singing this song during the March on Washington Street with Martin Luther King Jr. At the time, I could see how some people would feel hopeless considering all the atrocities imposed upon the African American community. But they never gave up hope, and they kept on fighting, and eight years ago civil rights activists were able to see the first black man be elected president of the United States. Their determination and strength has lead to great progress, and I believe if we continue along the same path, we too, shall overcome.