Editor’s Note – We made a commitment to our contributors and followers yesterday that if anyone had something they wanted to say about the election and sought a forum in which to be heard, we would be that forum. We’re not advocating a particular point of view, but rather giving voice to so many who are feeling so much. We are welcoming posts through the end of the week. If you’re a college or early career woman and you would like to share your thoughts, please send your submission to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Growing up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I lived in a bubble. An accepting, welcoming, liberal bubble. My cul-de-sac of 11 houses included an Arab family, two Indian families, a Chinese family, a French family, a lesbian couple, and my own Jewish family. The annual multicultural evening at my elementary school was always my favorite night of the year; a time where I could learn about the food, customs, and cultures of my classmates. I participated in Easter egg hunts with my friends and they attended Shabbat dinners at my house. This attitude was the norm; I never thought anything of it.
My first realization that I lived up in a bubble occurred my freshman year of college, during Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. While I was making my first Republican friends, they were meeting their first Jew. Hearing that some of my friends attended all-white high schools in small, rural towns opened my eyes to the privilege I had to have grown up with people different from myself. I thought that college was exposing me to “real world,” a world where individuals can openly debate and both sides of issues are represented. However, whatever exposure I was getting to the world outside of my bubble was limited. Although many of my classmates at the University of Michigan were from around the country, had differing views, and varying beliefs, one thing we all had in common was that we were accepting of people that differed from ourselves. Unfortunately I no longer believe that this common trait is representative of our country.
When Donald Trump first began running for President, I, along with many others, thought it was a joke. When he received the Republican nomination, I thought there was no way he could win. Leading up to the election, I knew he had a following, but believed that Hillary’s was stronger. My social media pages were filled with pro-Hillary posts. The media believed she would win. I believed she would win. But more than that, I did not think that a man that I and so many others believed to be sexist, racist, misogynistic and xenophobic could win. I understand that I had a false sense of the reality of our country- growing up in a liberal city, attending a large public university, and now living in a metropolitan city, the capital of our country. Throughout this past week, I’ve learned that my idea of a typical American- tolerating, accepting, and progressive- did not represent the apparent majority of our country.
My eyes have been opened. I’ve learned that the perception of America that I’ve had for the past 22 years has been incorrect. I’ve been sheltered. For every time I proudly smiled at the extensive number of Hillary signs in my suburban neighborhood, I’ve learned that there were just as many Trump signs in a neighborhood not too many miles away. For every time I’ve showed annoyance when I need to swipe my credit card at the drugstore, even though it felt silly since my birth control pills are free, there may now be a woman who won’t have access to them. For every pro-Hillary social media post that has come across my news feed over the past several months, there was a vote that I fear will end equality in our country. Hillary Clinton is not perfect; none of us are. But she is what I believe our country needed for progressive change.
As a woman, I am scared. As a Jew, I am scared. As an individual pursing a career in the STEM field, I am scared. I’m scared for my LGBTQ+ friends. I’m scared for my friends of racial minorities. I’m scared for anyone that isn’t a white, Christian male. And I’m allowing myself to be scared. I can be scared, angry, sad, frustrated, or any of the other emotions that would describe how I’m feeling today. But that’s not enough. We need to fight back. We need to show the rest of the world how far we’ve come and that Trump’s presidency is just a minor setback. It is not negating the triumphs we as a country have accomplished over the past few decades.
I hope that one day, I can look back on this week and see how it did not destroy us. How we triumphed. That my friends and peers will not be oppressed by any of their identities. That there will be no one telling my future daughter that she can’t accomplish her dreams. That we are able to celebrate our differences and teach others about our cultures. Most of all, I hope that we can show that love trumps hate.
Meet Guest Contributor Ilana Miller:
Hi, I’m Ilana! I’m from Ann Arbor, Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan in 2016 with a B.S. in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience. I’m currently completing a fellowship doing clinical genomic research. Since graduating, I’ve been enjoying exploring the D.C. area and trying to “adult” as best as possible. In my free time I enjoy being outside, finding the best mint chocolate chip ice cream in the city, and petting every dog I see.