Sunday, November 13, 2016

My Vote Counted, but it Wasn't Enough

Politics is a game of chance. Even when we are aware that results can be skewed, we still take it personally; becoming outraged and reacting in ways that don't quite match our character. 

On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, the majority of voters rushed to the polls to cast votes for two popular presidential candidates who had been heavily campaigning and promoting their intended policies for over a year. Democrat: Hillary Clinton and Republican: Donald Trump. I voted early on Sunday, November 6, 2016, and left my local public library feeling relieved, yet unsure. 

The 2016 election was being referred to as the most important election in history, for various reasons. We'd soon find out who would succeed the very first African-American President, Barack Obama.

While watching coverage and hearing reporters claim that almost every state was "too close to call", I prayed my frustrations away and tweeted a few of my rhetorical thoughts:

"So many of us vote just because we have the right to, without truly understanding who or what we're voting for..." 

"When presented with unpleasant options, what's more important: preserving the legacy of our ancestors or moral judgment?"

"It's often hard to decide, especially when registered voters are uneducated and display ignorance when it comes to others' personal beliefs."

"Our votes count and our voices matter, but as minorities, power is hardly ever attainable, for us, in the land of the free..."

With anxiety building and exhaustion taking over, I assumed that I could rest easy knowing that, my top choice, Hillary Clinton, was in the lead, even though Trump snagged 29 electoral votes from Florida, my home state. I fell asleep a little after midnight and woke up on Wednesday, November 9, 2016, at 5AM to breaking news on the television that Donald Trump would be the next President of the United States. Completely floored, I frantically grabbed my phone to verify through other credible sources. There was no error. My vote counted, but it wasn't enough...

Not voting at all seemed to be the best resolution to soothe the conscience of those who did not want to settle on the "lesser of two evils". However, the aftermath proves otherwise. It appears that those who opted out of voting feel the need to justify their stance, perhaps juggling guilt over not exercising their right in order to directly impact the outcome. The fact of the matter is, our votes as citizens are considered, but still disregarded. Ultimately, the Electoral College determines the winner, making citizen voting seem like a useless attempt. 

It's been five days since Donald Trump was officially elected as America's favorite. And for five days, many of us have proceeded as if we're living out a horrible dream, or nightmare, rather. How could a man with absolutely no political experience, a man who publicly insulted women, Blacks, and Latinos, win? One word: privilege. Donald Trump is wealthy and White, providing him double the advantage over the average American. So, who voted for him? And why?

This post-election report speaks for itself, suggesting that Clinton was preferred over Trump, but it does not uncover the truth that, as a country, we have learned to blatantly ignore: racism rears its ugly head when we are vulnerable and unprepared. 

In my position as an educator, I am responsible for the development of opinions. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to discuss politics or religion in the school setting. How do we educate while being secretive? How do we nurture minds while following a code of conduct that only benefits the oppressors? How do I respond when a student jokingly asks me, "Is Trump going to get rid of Black people?"

I attended church today in search of understanding and in need of strength to move forward without any sign of fear. The message was: Maintaining Unity in Church. "If we can maintain unity in church and in our households, we can be united as a nation." Essentially, what this means is we cannot seek  outward unity until we have mastered it within our immediate circles. My prayer is that  #LoveTrumpsHate can grow to represent more than just a united hashtag. Under the leadership of a man who has openly expressed his hate for others and denounced President Obama's commendable victories, at this point, praying for America is truly all we can do... 

May we all be better and enlightened.