Thoughts: The 2016 Election, the Results, the Meaning of Kindness

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Today is a sad day. It’s a day that has shaken me to the core simply because it was so unexpected, so unthinkable that this would be the result. New York City is overcast, and it is absolutely silent. My little island of Manhattan is one of the most populous, most diverse places in the United States and they voted Blue in an overwhelming majority, but they lost. There are clouds gathered above the Empire State Building, the streets are frighteningly quiet- so much so that the first thing I thought when I woke up this morning was, “Wow, I didn’t wake up even once in the night.” You see, I live on the second floor in a very busy neighborhood in downtown Manhattan, and ever since I moved here, I have woken up – almost every single day – to sounds of raucous laughter, of good-natured shouts, of teenagers messing around right outside my window. Today, I heard nothing.

It’s a special kind of feeling to realize at such a pivotal moment in time that half of the population of the country you’re living in seemingly hates you. If not you, then people like you. If not people like you, then other minorities. Today, a man named Donald Trump won the most powerful position in the entire world by being unabashedly, and consistently, repulsive. It’s so unthinkable, because less than a year ago, we were laughing at the prospect of him even running the race. “He’s Donald Trump- he has no chance.” I guess he’s laughing now, because here we are, in our little dystopia and he’s at its head.

The United States of America. The land of the brave. The land of the free. The melting pot, which runs on the principles of freedom and liberty. A land which calls itself the pinnacle of human decency, where democracy and common sense and logic and modernity succeed all else. The land that Donald Trump wants to make “great” again, and his voters trust him to do that. They trust him to bring America that greatness.

And to you, greatness is what he embodies. Today, you voted for a man who has called Mexicans drug dealers and rapists. You voted for a man who wants to put little stars on Muslims so that ‘true Americans’ will know who to be afraid of. Who has called for a blanket ban on a massive population of the globe, feeding stereotypes and fear, playing into the hands of the extremists. He has called for mass deportation, without taking into account the families over here – hard-working and honest – that will be torn apart. Donald Trump has mocked people with disabilities. He has bragged about sexually predatory behavior. He has diminished women’s achievements and their bodies. And that’s not all.

He has called – no, preached – for violence at his rallies. He was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, and when asked about it, he did not condemn them. He advocated for war crimes on national television. He admitted to evading taxes, and then called himself smart for it. He is going on trial for child rape. He has been accused by double-digit women for sexual harassment and assault. He does not believe in giving women the right to their bodies. His Vice President is someone who believes electrocution will ‘cure’ LGBTQIA youth.

Our very existence is in danger. Even if Donald Trump doesn’t manage to pass the laws that he promised, his supporters are emboldened and confident at this moment, because they believe that their bigoted beliefs are held by the majority. And they are. And people like me are living in fear, who wept when the results were announced because they were genuinely frightened of what was going to happen. Where Muslim mothers are calling their hijab-wearing daughters, begging them to take it off because they don’t want them getting assaulted. Where trans individuals are urged to get their paperwork done before the end of the year, because they might not be able to after this man is in office. Where non-white kids are living in fear of bullying at school because of the color of their skin. It’s not okay.

I’ve seen plenty of rhetoric flying around the Internet, a lot from the bookish community as well, saying that it’s important to be kind. That this is what America is built on – values of democracy, values of freedom. He won, that’s that, we have to now accept it. Okay, I get it. He’s our President, and if you’re saying he’s not- you’re wrong. This is not fiction, it is reality and denying it will do no good. It’s too late to do anything now. But it’s infuriating for someone like me who’s been living in this country, loving it, serving it by working, by volunteering, by upholding its values. Who’s been paying her taxes diligently while studying full-time at an institution towards a degree that will help me become a tiny brick in a path that will lead this country to even more success and prosperity. But I cannot vote because I won’t be a citizen until three more years, and I had to watch while America voted for a man who doesn’t pay taxes. I had to watch while America told me that it hated my existence.

I will not be kind. I’ve read the Constitution of the United States; have you? I respect the principles of democracy, though I may not agree with how they are carried out. But if you’re asking me to respect the people who voted for a misogynist, a racist, a homophobe, an Islamophobe into office? Someone who’s on trial for child rape and has admitted to sexually assaulting women? Am I supposed to respect YOU, and think that YOU are a decent human being when you voted THAT MAN into office, with a REPUBLICAN HOUSE, and a REPUBLICAN SENATE- you are sadly mistaken. I have the right to say whatever the fuck I want, and I have the right to protest, so – and excuse my language – fuck off with your “keep it nice and kind” rhetoric. For marginalized communities, America is not a bucket of sunshines and rainbows. It wasn’t sunshine and rainbows when you saw an openly xenophobic, sexist pig running for president and you decided to back him through every disgusting thing he has done and said, and it isn’t sunshine and rainbows when a man who has offended EVERY SINGLE MINORITY IN THIS FUCKING COUNTRY is now our leader.

I won’t be kind to you. But I will be kind to the people who are hurting, who saw their values, their futures crushed under the feet of close-minded, warmongering assholes. And I suggest you do the same. If you’re white, pay attention to what people of color are saying, and realize that the despair you’re feeling right now is something marginalized communities have feared all their lives, and their fears have doubled, tripled, quadrupled depending on their demographic. If you’re cisgender, stand up for the rights of trans individuals. If you’re straight, stand up for LGBQIA+ people. If you’re able-bodied, remind yourself that you are not superior than individuals with disabilities. It’s too late for this election now, but learn and do the right thing in 2020.

But right now, I’m going to echo a sentiment. I had not heard a single human voice from outside my window all morning, but I heard a voice that echoes a lot of ours. An enraged man walked past, yelling, “Fuck this country. Stupid ass motherfuckers.”

The Little Steps


I’m posting this on my blog for a reason, and that’s because I think books matter. I started this blog because I loved reading, and I felt that books play a larger role in our lives than mere entertainment. And now it’s up to you, in an increasingly hostile environment, to lift up marginalized communities. It’s not enough for you to talk about them. 140 characters are good for ranting, but they’re not enough, they’re not concrete. You need to support them.

Buy books by authors of color, authors from the LGBTQIA+ community, authors with disabilities. Buy books about characters from these communities. Support them. Support celebrities of color- go out, buy their music, listen to it and lift them up. Watch diverse television. Watch diverse movies, and support what they stand for. This country done fucked up, but you can do your part in trying to fix it step-by-step.

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Comments

  1. I have no drive for anything today. I feel like I’m grieving. I truly believed that the balance was tipped in favor of compassion, and that there’s no way good, kind, accepting people would allow this to happen. Now I feel duped and naive, and so fucking sad.

    If that’s how I feel, as a white, cis female, straight, US citizen I can’t even imagine what it feels like as a minority. Your words were powerful.

  2. I couldn’t believe it when I saw the results. It seemed, and still seems, so surreal. I haven’t followed the campaign that closely, but what I’ve seen has been enough. To see a man like him enter the global arena as one of the most powerful is frightening. Will he be able to handle working with leaders from all over the world like a professional? I seriously hope so. It feels like the world is filling up with extremists. The fear of a third World War has already hit me a few time these last few years.

    I wish you the best of luck there on the other side of the Atlantic, and I pray Europe will survive through this as well.

  3. I feel the same way you do. And one of the first post-election news that I heard was the swastikas and anti-semitic, racist graffiti found in Philadelphia today. My soul hurts today. Spending six hours volunteering at the polls yesterday, to have the day end up like it did. I won’t be kind, either. Not when confronted with homophobic, racist, sexist, nationalistic, xenophobic, isolationist bigotry and bullshit.

  4. Thank you for sharing this, Aimal. I’ve been following the election on TV as much as I could yesterday and it’s so heartbreaking, so terrifying, to see this outcome, and I honestly have no words. Keeping you, your family, and everyone else scared in my thoughts.

  5. I echo the thoughts of Birdie. It does feel like grief today. This is the 5th presidential election I’ve voted in. In 2000 and 2004 when my candidates lost, I was disappointed. Last night went beyond disappointment. It was devastation. I knew from everything I’d seen in his campaign and his rallies that there were many who were openly racist and sexist. I knew they were out there. I was appalled and disgusted by them, but not surprised. What shocked me was what the news kept calling the “Silent Trump Vote”. Those who didn’t show up at rallies. Those who didn’t claim him as their candidate in polls. Those who stayed “silent” with their vote until Election Day. Those are the people I’m scared of. The ones who hide their racism, sexism, xenophobia away. As I was out today, I kept looking at the people around me, wondering which of them may hold that kind of hate in their heart. Which of them knew he was bad enough that they had to hide their vote, but cast it anyway.

    Today I’m allowing myself to be unapologetically angry. Tomorrow I will use that anger as fuel for change. I will stand up to the hate. I will not allow hate and fear to consume us. I will not allow it to win. I will fight it with love for everyone he has marginalized. I will show kindness to those who need it and strength against those who threaten them. He may be the president, but he will never be my president. He does not speak for me.

  6. It hurts to see so much pain and fear around me today. I’m angry, sad, and terrified all at once. Nobody should have to fear for their safety and basic rights because of the results of an election, but here we are.

    This is a brilliant post. Thank you so much for sharing. ♡

  7. Absolutely brilliantly said, Aimal. It’s heartbreaking what happened. As a white woman of privilege in Australia I feel utterly devastated so I can’t begin to imagine how POC/Muslims in the US and worldwide are feeling right now. I knew there were some really awful people in the world, but I ignorantly didn’t realise just how many until yesterday.

    I’ll be fighting along side all of you as much as I possibly can. ✊🏻💖

  8. I think a lot of people all over the world are afraid and grieving right now, Aimal! I don’t live in the US, but I have definitely followed the election with a lot of interest. As you said, it is one of the most powerful nations in the world, and what happens there impacts all of us, no matter where we live. The first person I spoke to yesterday after the results became official was an American friend of mine, he’s gay, and he wasn’t very coherent. The one thing he said he was happy about is that he lives in Switzerland now, and that he hopes he’ll be able to get his mom to move her.
    The fear is real, and some people have already felt the change up close. I think this is a fight we’re all going to have to fight – because human decency tells us to do so – we are all human beings, and all the hate and bigotry has got to stop!
    Great post ♥

  9. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been following the election for as much as I could and I was devastated by the results. I am baffled at horrified to see a man filled with so much anger and hate in a position of such power and influence, I’m even more horrified to see the number of people that seem to share those beliefs. My thoughts are with you, your family and everyone else that feels scared by this shocking result.

  10. This post sums up everything I am feeling at the moment, thank you for writing this. I am stunned by the results of this election and I don’t know how to express my anger and disbelief and my loss of faith in the American people. My hope is that we will be better next election and that all those thousands of people who didn’t vote this year will realize their mistake and people like you who couldn’t vote this election will finally get their chance.

  11. Beautifully written Aimal, as a white woman living in the UK. I am with you and feel heartbroken for you, I’m shocked by what has happened and pray love wins over hate over all.
    I hope knowing you have others around the world wishing to hold your hand and fight alongside you in whatever way we can can bring you some hope for the future x

  12. Very well written post. I think it’s just sad. I know nothing about politics but I do know Trump is not someone I’d want as my leader, I live in Ireland so it’s not affecting me yet but it is definitely become a global thing.

  13. Alllllllll of this. I will say, too, that I am heartened that Clinton won the popular vote (BY A LOT), but, man, that he carried so many states is just heartbreaking.

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