This Doesn't Mean it's Over

By Olivia Banks (UMass Amherst Undergraduate)

I didn’t sleep on the night of November 8, 2016. I didn’t know how anyone could. Instead I lay on the floor of a dorm room, with my face pressed into a beanbag as silent tears rolled down my cheeks, wrapped in a blanket and buried under a pile of my friends with equally emotional reactions. We were all women, and we were no longer safe. 

I remember all of the jokes I made the week leading up to the election, and the jokes I made as the members of my residence hall crowded around the TV to watch it. My friends and I would see each other in the bathroom, or in the hallway, or in class, and ask with a deadpan expression, “You’re voting for Trump, right? Because human rights don’t matter?” Then we’d let a little smile slip because it was so ridiculous and untrue; we were casting our votes for Clinton, and Clinton would win. As we watched the results unfold, I pointed to a sign that advertised Anxiety Mind and Body Workshops on campus, joked about how we’d all need that after this election, and everyone erupted into laughter. It still didn’t feel real.

The jokes stopped once Trump once won Florida- where my father lives- and the tears came once he won Pennsylvania. My friends and I excused ourselves and cried together, in one of our dorms, because we couldn’t be around everyone else. The next morning, we marched around campus in protest, feeding off the furious energy of impassioned millennials, so intense it was overwhelming and almost palpable.

I am a woman, a first-generation American, and a member of the LGBT+ community, and I am so lucky I do not feel alone. I have friends of different races, sexualities, beliefs and genders who are equally fearful, disappointed and shocked. I am so grateful for their support. 

About a week prior to Trump winning the election, I “came out” as nonheterosexual, and my friends and family flooded me with positivity and love. It had been easy for me to hide behind society’s safety nets and dismiss my attraction to girls for years because I was also attracted to boys. After Trump’s victory, I realized I might have to retreat back into my shell and fight against my nature like I had been doing all of my life. I wasn’t ready to do so. And more importantly, I wasn’t willing to do so.

I believe Democratic representation is crucial at this point in America’s existence. I also believe Republican representation is crucial. 

But I don’t believe Donald Trump accurately represents the Republican party. I believe Donald Trump represents tyranny, racism, sexism, homophobia, and a complete lack of morality. I also believe Donald Trump needs to be very closely monitored, if not stopped. 

I pity all of the minorities who will be affected by Trump’s presidency. But, to all of the Trump supporters out there: I pity you the most. I pity your inability to empathize with other humans, your inability to recognize the absurdity of the man who is Donald Trump, and your inability to understand the consequences of what this election means for the United States of America. 

To be clear, I have nothing against Republicans in general. But I am currently struggling to understand how people can, quite literally, attack humanity. As James Richardson said, “The wound hurts less than your desire to wound me.” It isn’t so much about potential conversion therapy, or racial discrimination, prohibiting abortion, or limiting access to women’s contraceptive methods as it is about the notion that this is okay because minorities’ voices and rights do not matter. 

I’m also struggling to respect Trump supporters because I feel they do not respect me. I’m trying to understand their perspectives because I know that all will truly be lost in this country when people no longer respect each other, but I cannot and will not agree with them. I’m planning on protesting as much as possible and urge others to do the same. I’m not a huge fan of Hillary Clinton, but her concession speech inspired me beyond words. We have come so far and we must keep fighting. This doesn’t mean it’s over. Maybe this marks the start of something great.