I remember when I was twelve and Barack Obama was first elected President. Shortly before, I had gone to visit my grandparents’ grave with my father and my aunt. They discussed how they never thought it could happen in their lifetime, just like it hadn’t happened in my grandparents’. I remember my father, who worked for the San Francisco Chronicle at the time, collecting the newspapers after the election was over. He passed them out to those who asked. A couple of years passed. I would sometimes go into the garage and stare at the copies and think about how surreal that time was. I remember when the Inauguration took place. My schoolmates and I gathered on the small field where a large screen was set up. I held my head a little higher after that day. I also remember when Obama was elected for his second term; the next day, I saw many of my white classmates looking downtrodden. My black classmates quietly mused among ourselves about the achievement. At the time I thought things could only get better. I had heard the economy was getting better, I hadn’t heard about too many police shootings, and I thought this country was changing for the better.
Looking back, I miss those times. I had hope, even if it was Obama’s arguably naive “yes we can” brand of hope. It seemed like everyone did, to a certain extent. Watching the results from this election has forever changed what I think about my country – America. I went from not believing Donald Trump was seriously thinking about running, to not believing that he hadn’t dropped out yet, to not believing that he got the GOP nomination, to not believing he won the election. Words cannot describe how truly disgusted I am with a good chunk of Americans. Not only has an outright bigot been championed for all the hurtful things he has said, apparently many in the US were silent about their feelings, smiled in many of their peers’ faces, then turned around and voted for white supremacy, xenophobia, homophobia, and sexism. This election has made it quite clear that this bigotry has been festering within our country. People were just waiting for the right opportunity to bring it back into the forefront.
If there is a lesson I’ve learned in the following days during the election, it’s to never underestimate hatred. But, I’m not going to let it consume me. I’m going to continue to fight for what I believe in, stand strong in my beliefs, and put all I have into building up local government and grassroots movements. Like Barack Obama said, “Don’t boo, vote.” I will do my best to follow this wise advice. So much has changed in the last eight years. I won’t be looking at any inauguration newspapers with the same admiration, but that doesn’t mean I’ve lost hope. I want to see real change and progression for all people, not just those who fit the mold.