On Tuesday, November 9, Donald J. Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States.
What does that mean?
To say that something bad has happened would be an understatement: Leonard J. Moore, a professor in the Department of History and Classical studies at McGill University, likened the current political climate to a “rollback of civil rights,” in an interview with Graphite.
One of my high-school teachers just posted the photograph on his Facebook wall.
Images like these represent the trans-border effect of racism in the 21st century.
When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, discussions about rising xenophobia might have been floated around, but most of us have only really woken up to the reality about a week ago.
“While people were laughing and taking [Trump] for granted, a white supremacist and fascist movement had already begun,” reflected Eloïse Gabadou, a political science student at McGill. The rise of the alt-right should not be a surprise to us because it started long ago, she says.
I can sympathize with the fear and concern people are experiencing. That being said, I cannot appreciate the negative discourse that has resulted in the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. elections. We all feel defeated, I get it; but as it stands, we are letting Trump’s hate win.
This is not a time to castigate Trump supporters, though.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space,” said renowned psychiatrist Victor Frankl once. In other words, a bad thing has happened, but we have to think before we act.
“Trump is not who we should turn our hate toward,” Eloïse affirmed. “Hate, is not even the answer, right now.”
I promise you, chanting “Fuck you Donald Trump” will not accomplish anything, except perhaps fuel an already unstable environment.
When I asked professor Moore if he could sympathize with any of Trump’s supporters, he responded, “Although they [Trump supporters] are defending the wrong side of history, there are always two sides.”
Many Trump supporters are economically crippled, uneducated individuals who felt they had no other choice but to vote for Trump: after all, he’s the candidate who put forward catchy rhetoric about ‘Making America Great Again.’ The trouble is that when people are hurting economically, they use cultural politics of race and ethnicity as a scapegoat.
This is no time for humour.
Jimmy Kimmel attempted to satirize the results of the U.S. election by taking his audience through “The Five Stages of Dealing with Grief and Loss.”
Eloïse told me, “It’s funny until it’s not.” She is right. There is a limit to the political memes, and racist jokes. As a second-generation immigrant woman of colour, I would know.
Despite being born and raised in Toronto, one of the most diverse cities in the world, racism has still affected me. While I still enjoy listening to comedians like Russell Peters and Jimmy Kimmel, the political climate is changing in a way which makes racist jokes less funny.
Indirectly comedians are promoting hate among people. “Attempts to normalize the situation are part of the problem, because they ignore gravity of the radical movement that has taken place,” explained professor Moore.
This is not the time to find backdoor solutions.
Pro-Hillary supporters have discussed the idea that “Hillary can still be President!” because under a clause in the U.S. Constitution, electoral college members will meet in their respective state capitals on December 19, and electors can potentially refuse to support the candidate who won their state.
Moore added that while he, along with many other people, want to see the person with the most votes win, a loophole strategy will only bolster Trump supporters’ hate. That being said, I can sympathise with people’s’ hope, even if it means bending constitutional precedents, and this hope is what we need to embrace, not backdoor solutions.
This is a time to unite.
While there is obvious reason to feel afraid and defeated, this political failure ought to be the fuel of our ambition.
It is time to face the reality of Donald J. Trump as the next President of the United States of the United States; but to face the reality with a fight. Professor Moore speculates that in a way, “Hillary still won the election” because (hopefully) the results have created newfound strength in progressive ideas.
A climate of peaceful protest is a good thing, we must remember, and will be necessary in the next few years considering the fact that Republicans in both the House of Representatives and the Senate now have the ability to push forward their agenda and legislation against social programs like Planned Parenthood, or Obamacare.
It is essential therefore that we remain in solidarity. Concordia student Georgia Kohne, who attended the recent “Love Trumps Hate” event at McGill, shared her experience as one that was more about listening to people’s reactions about the election and aftermath.
“It gave me hope. I felt empowered, and in solidarity with the other protestors as we were listening and sharing our opinions,” she said.
I’ve heard some people on Montreal university campuses say that this election proves to us how a bigot, misogynist, racist etc. can hold office, but an upstanding woman cannot. However, I think the link that people are missing is that this election does not have to define the next four years.
Protest, write articles, use your voice (but think before you speak), talk to professors, talk to your peers. Contribute to the system – political, cultural, social – because it still has something to offer us. These mechanisms of coping and acceptance of the situation are not a waste of our time because only we have the power to change how this event has affected us.
As I was leaving professor Moore’s office, he said to me, “Every generation has to face its own big thing, as I did during Reagan and Nixon eras.” Members of the millennial era: this is our ‘big thing,’ so let us, to the best of our abilities, make something positive out of it.