How the 2016 Election Changed My Heart and My Soul
I love my country. I always have but I didn't know how much I loved my country until November 9th, 2016 at 3:30 am when I woke up, grabbed my phone, and quickly checked the election results. Honestly, in my heart I had already known what the results would be because I had been sitting on my couch following the numbers all the way up until midnight when I fell asleep. However, as I picked up my phone, I remembered that miracles happened, but this notion was quickly dashed out of my mind as Google showed me the one thing that I never wanted to see: Donald Trump had won the Presidency. Upon reading this headline, two things suddenly became abundantly clear to me. The first was that I loved my country fiercely. The second was that my country had just been shattered into a million pieces--a fine piece of china that had been handled carelessly.
I can't remember exactly what happened after reading that headline. I must have been in shock. I only remember going back to sleep. When I woke up again, I immediately opened my Facebook page and noticed on my wall that I had posted a single sentence: "Oh my gosh, this country is going down in flames." I had also shared an article for a play that I was designing costumes for that was opening up that week. I must have been in the denial phase when I posted those, but when I woke up, I know for a fact that I was in the anger phase. The next couple of days, I shared post after post after post of anti-Trump pictures and statuses. I deleted all my Facebook friends who either voted for Trump or who did not vote at all (because they are more guilty than anyone). I declared that Trump is not and will never be my president. In short, I was one angry black woman. This morning, the anger subsided and I went through another phase: pain. I cried this morning. I cried because this election made me realize that the country I loved so much was just a facade. I cried because I could no longer be an ostrich, because I was being forced to face a reality that I had spent my entire life denying. I cried because the land that I loved was a fairy tale and as much as I wanted to just jump back into the Matrix, I knew that I couldn't. The blue pill was no longer an option for me.
Can you ignore the division that has been caused by the 2016 election?
I spent the day observing little things that I hadn't paid much attention to before. I went outside and my neighbor's puppies came running over to play with me. I observed their joy, their pure ignorance to the world around them. I observed how I would never have that again. I observed the young people in my neighborhood, walking, riding their bikes, playing, doing what young people do. I observed the same joy and ignorance in them as the puppies. I observed the brightness of the air, the freshness of the wind, the calmness of today's weather. I observed my grandmother watering the flowers on her porch. I observed the world just as it was yesterday, but with the knowledge that it wasn't real. I also realized that it is imperative that we wake up from this dream, from this simulation that has been pulled over our eyes.
Now as I sit here and type, I know that I need to do something and knowing this is dreadful. I'm not an activist. I'm not a leader. I'm not an organizer. I'm just someone who likes to write, draw, and act. I'm just a person, just me. I'm someone who desperately wants to crawl back under the rock I was pushed from under. I just want things back to the way they were, but it's not an option, so despite what I want, I have to figure out how I'm going to make a difference. There are so many problems out there that has been pushed to the forefront of American society by Donald Trump's bigotry so how am I to pinpoint one? After thinking about it for a while, I believe that the biggest problem with this election was the people who did not vote. There were so many people who just chose not to participate. They didn't understand that their vote was vital to the race. Hilary Clinton lost several states by a mere one percent. Sure she won the popular vote, but if everyone had just gone out and voted then she could have won the electoral votes also.
Getting to the Root of an Issue
It's deeper than just convincing people to go out and vote though. It's so much deeper than that, and in order to fix this non-voter problem, we have to get to the root of it--why people, especially young African-Americans, don't feel the need to vote. Our ancestors fought so hard to gain this privilege for us but yet we don't take advantage of it. In my heart, I believe that its because our youth do not see the value in being African-Americans. When a person sees the value in something, they fight for it. They work hard to uphold it's value. Our youth do not see value in our heritage. I'm not saying that they aren't proud to be African-Americans, because black pride is at a high right now compared to other decades, but this sense of "awesomeness" that our youth has seems to be a modern thing--they feel as if black people just started being awesome.
The question is why do our youth not see that we have always been awesome? In schools, they aren't learning about the major contributions of blacks in this country. They learn the basics but in order to get a more in-depth look at African-American history, they have to take a whole separate class, and even then they still don't get an extremely in-depth look. It's almost as if we are still segregated. There is no "White American History" class. There is no "White American History" month. Our history should be intertwined with white history. It should be taught just as much. Our youth need to see that black people have been awesome since the time they stepped off of that slave boat. For example, William Brown started the African Grove Theater and wrote and produced the first African-American play well before slavery was even abolished in the U.S. Most young African-Americans don't have any knowledge of black theater before Tyler Perry became popular. This trend of not knowing how awesome we are is a big connection to our youth not voting. It seems like a stretch, but if our youth knew how much rich history we have, and what our people have accomplished, then they would do everything in their power to stop a bigot like Donald Trump from taking that away.
The African Grove Theater, Est. 1821
In short, this article has been an outlet for me to express the whirlpool of emotions that this election has stirred up in me. I'm past my anger, I'm past my pain, and I'm on to the healing process. I want to make the world a better place. I want to work past the hatred, the judgement, and the differences. Most importantly, I want our youth to be proud of our heritage and to be strong, and to know that their lives matter and that they can make a difference in the world. I want our youth to know that no one, no matter their race, financial status, position, or opinions, can take away our pride and our rich heritage. It doesn't matter if Donald Trump is president for the next eight years--we will still prevail. We will still be here and we will still stand strong. We will continue to honor our past and build our future, and despite all odds, we will eventually achieve the equality that our country so desperately needs.