I’m stunned, I don’t know where to begin. It’s a sinking feeling – so many things are running through my mind and heart right now, and I hope, I just hope that writing about it will help me process what is going on and move forward.
First off, I now know that the America I knew was only a fraction of America. Not just the campus of a liberal arts college, the media as well. All I thought was America was apparently an elite crust that many others resented and wanted to destroy. It seemed that I lived in a happy echo chamber consisting of people who are at least willing to understand other people’s positions through rational discourse, or who, after years of hurt, had the courage to stand up and fight for their rights. A group, albeit diverse in background, consisting of people who are well-educated. All I knew of America was of people who at least could see through the consequences of a political vote. And that was the America I liked, that was the America I wanted a place in. Today I know that I am not welcomed by the majority of Americans. I am reminded that I am a mere visitor, that I came here to study abroad, that as an Asian person I am not welcomed in a country created by white people. They elected a president who wants to halt immigration and discriminate based on a person’s color of skin or religious beliefs.
I now see that America really is a project; that it began as a huge social experiment that has been created by the hands of those participating in it. Human rights are something to be fought for, not granted. I never, I think, knew that. Seeing an entire people lose a fight in front of my eyes was enough to understand that not everything is given. Progress is not natural; it is truly a human made concept, built through hundreds of years of experience and blood shedding. Yesterday, half the American population wanted a world that they lived in the past, or at least, something different from what they saw as progress that left them behind. How else can I make sense of the election where people voted against gay marriage, gender equality, women’s rights, racial justice, environmental change, and so much more? What are America’s values, I wonder – where were the core principles that all the politicians said Trump sabotaged? Did it even exist in the first place if half the people voted against it? I am so confused about this country right now. If about half the people wanted a country that is made up of white people and consumes only things made in the United States, well, sure – but that certainly goes against everything that the world thought the United States was about. We all thought America was about progress, about pursuing justice and freedom. Freedom; freedom only for a select few that looks and thinks in a similar manner to the president?
In a climate where immigrants are not wanted, I am not wanted. I see that now. I am disappointed in this country. I need to see what Trump actually does as president, if he really can destroy 240 years worth of history. But if he does, if he does want to destroy everything, I don’t have a place here. Heck, I don’t even get to participate. I’m a visitor with a student visa.
Until now, I took my place in the United States as granted. Yes, I am an international student, but I’m a college student – I wanted to stay here after graduation, and was hopeful that eventually I will get a work visa, and then a green card. I thought, foolishly, that America would welcome me with open hands as a country founded by immigrants. No, no, no. I was just starting to understand the racial divide in this country and the meaning of the color of my skin when Donald Trump was elected president. I didn’t see my place. I now feel thankful, even nostalgic, for the America that showed me for three years an illusion of an inclusive, welcoming, free country.
So what do I do now? Now that international politics is involved, this is no longer a question of principles for me. This is a matter of safety. As much as I like America, what it showed me last night was not the America I thought I lived in. I don’t know if I want to stay here anymore. Thankfully, I have a choice. This is an immense privilege, something that those who were born here and have a home here don’t have. I need to make my choice wisely.
And if I do choose to stay here, if I want a place here as my own, I now know that I need to do my fair share as a member of this boat. I need to be fighting for my rights, and I need to understand the consequences of each fight. Not just in the United States, though – after last night, I know what democracy looks like at its raw core. I need to recognize that the world is in our hands, in my two small hands, along with many others’ with various shapes and color. This is our world, and we will live here as long as we can fight for ourselves.