A Word From the Bubble

By Olivia Blanchard (Harvard College Undergraduate)

I really expected Hillary Clinton to win. I did! And most people around me did too. Whoops. We really were not expecting this one. But then, maybe we should have been. 

I live in Cambridge, Massachusetts and I grew up in Bethesda, Maryland. These are two hyper-educated and liberal bubbles. I am a financially supported white woman living and learning in a bubble, and I’ve got to say, it’s not a bad place to be. I do not experience sexism as frequently as other women, though even I have seen it around me. Homophobia and racism are approaching taboo, and I have access to healthcare and covered birth control options. I am comfortable in my bubble.  But then maybe I shouldn’t be. 

As I watched Donald J Trump become this nation’s President-elect, I couldn’t help wondering whom I didn’t know. Who were the people voting for this man? It is easy to point fingers in this election. It is too easy to see exactly the demographic groups that voted Trump or voted third party in swing states. It would be easy to insulate my bubble and disregard this population, dismissing them as bigots and bad people. 

But not everyone has the luxury of choosing to ignore the ignorant people and troubling trends that are so entrenched in this country. We, who cannot understand how someone can support Trump, cannot afford to dismiss half of this country as beyond change. Because how could they all be bad? Maybe I’m an optimist, and maybe this is a byproduct of my bubbled upbringing, but I cannot fathom the idea that half of this country’s population is irretrievably and purposefully stuck in the past. I fear that too much progress has occurred inside our bubbles for us to realize that the rest of the country is struggling and watching us with disdain. While we comfortably think we’ve made strides, people elsewhere unhappily and resentfully stagnate. 

The people of color, the disabled, the LGBTQ+ community, and the immigrants see my bubble and yearn for their inclusion. The poor, the uneducated, the inaccessible, the rural, the lower middle class see my bubble and scoff at it. But unfortunately, and with a misguided hope, this latter group has resorted to Trump. Trump, with his promise for radical change of governmental powers coupled with the maintenance of institutionalized discrimination, attracts hate. He brings with him a host of followers who, in the comfort of numbers and darkness, reveal their ignorance and fear through destruction. They’re in a bubble of their own in many ways. Their bubble is not so shiny as mine. It’s hard to look through their bubble on account of the prejudice plastered with abandon on those walls. 

For the first time in my life, as a woman and as a Jew, I feel like I am on the edge of my bubble. I am afraid for the rights of women and Jews, and for the first time I fear for myself. But I am also awake. I recognize my privilege, and I understand that I don’t know everything. Maybe it’s time we bridge the gap between bubbles and reach out. Reach out to the marginalized groups and individuals to bring them to safety in these dangerous times. But also reach out to those other insulated groups. Reach out to the America that elected Trump. Do not condescend, but do not be complicit. I speak to my friends in bubbles: just try to connect. Because otherwise why do we even bother? 

There’s an America that I fear and there’s an America that I don’t know. It’s time that I use my privilege as a tool for action instead of as a blinder. I’ll always be in a bubble of sorts I suppose, but maybe it’ll become a bigger bubble. And maybe next time we’ll be in it together.