Standing against oppression is key in light of the 2016 election

R. Gray
Opinion Staff Writer
rgray1@unca.edu

The night of the election was one of the most horrifying things I have had the misfortune of witnessing in my lifetime. Nothing is more harrowing than watching someone openly bigoted slowly and surely become the next leader of the U.S.

I voted and it was not enough. There was nothing I could do but watch helplessly as the election tipped in Donald Trump’s favor. I do not know what is worse: watching it happen or being one of many who went to bed and woke up to their safety being more uncertain than ever.
The problem is not just Trump but the chain reaction resulting from his rise to power. The people who voted for him — his supporters, people who hate minorities — they all see his success and believe there are no consequences for being openly hateful.

They are no longer afraid to oppress, suppress and intimidate. They see him and they see their hateful stances justified. They see him and they see half of America agreeing with them. Hate crimes are bound to rise because of this. It happened with Brexit and it will most certainly happen here.

I watched my friends break down uncertain of their future, afraid of leaving their homes the following day. I heard my friends talk about how their parents were crying, afraid of being in a country that was once an escape.

I got to face the dawning realization half of America wants me, my friends and people like us, dead. I should not be afraid to exist. My friends should not be afraid to exist. People of color, LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities and health problems should not be afraid to exist.

People crying out in fear and despair should not ever be the reaction following an election. The fact this reaction was commonplace once Trump was elected should be telling.

None of this means our fight is over. It means we have to fight louder and harder to make ourselves be heard. It means we have to make every step of the way hell for the people who would oppress us. It means we have to step up for others. It means keeping each other safe in the days ahead. It means listening to people who lack the same privileges we may have, and we must keep intersectionality in mind during our struggle.

If we do not fight for change, nothing will change and things will likely get worse. We should not have to fight for our own safety, but that is how it has to be until the day comes where we no longer have to. We have to fight for ourselves, and we have to fight for our future and for the future of the next generation.

In his book, La Famille, Père Hyacinthe writes, “These trees which he plants and under whose shade he shall never sit, he loves them for themselves and for the sake of his children and his children’s children, who are to sit beneath the shadow of their spreading boughs.” Meaning while we may never see the fruits of our labor, future generations will. That alone is more than worth it. The future is worth fighting for, if only to ensure everyone who comes after us get to live in better circumstances.

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