Soto: Coping with a future of Trump

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Soto: Coping with a future of Trump

Young protesters gather in Chicago on Wednesday night in reaction to Donald Trump’s election.

Young protesters gather in Chicago on Wednesday night in reaction to Donald Trump’s election.

Colin Boyle/The Daily Northwestern

Young protesters gather in Chicago on Wednesday night in reaction to Donald Trump’s election.

Colin Boyle/The Daily Northwestern

Colin Boyle/The Daily Northwestern

Young protesters gather in Chicago on Wednesday night in reaction to Donald Trump’s election.

Isabella Soto, Op-Ed Contributor

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On Tuesday morning, I took the train into Pilsen to cover Latinx and Hispanic voters for my journalism class. On the Pink Line, a mother and her child, Kayla, sat next to me. Kayla is almost one year old, I soon found out, her birthday only 10 days after my own. After making funny faces and smiling down at her, the child’s mother took her out of her stroller, and, in a matter of minutes, she was sitting on my lap. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d held a child so small. I giggled each time she laughed a raucous laugh, relished in the joy of playing patty-cake with her, feeling as though this interaction was a sign from above that the election results would bring good things.

I can’t come up with words to describe Tuesday night. I can’t explain how I felt watching the number of electoral votes climb until Trump passed 270. I was numb. I wish I could say I was in disbelief, but in my deepest heart I knew there is too much hate in the United States for this not to happen. I was wracked with sobs, fearing for what this meant for my fellow women of color, for immigrants, for every marginalized group Trump has taken time to alienate and demonize.

On Wednesday morning, I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it out of bed. I fought with myself to get up and go outside. I didn’t want to accept this defeat of human decency. I sat stone-faced in class, unable to speak and unable to focus on anything but pain. I felt unsafe in my body. I felt uncomfortable in the world. I sat on the Lakefill and cried, looking at the Chicago skyline, wondering why my country doesn’t love me back. I have defended it. I have worked hard for it. I have privileges and opportunities because of it. I was proud to be an American, but it’s clear America isn’t proud of me.

I am a woman of color. I am a Latina daughter to two immigrant parents from the Dominican Republic. I am someone who has been groped without my consent. Nearly half of the popular vote and the majority of Electoral College votes went to a candidate whose rhetoric has attacked or made light of my identities and experiences, as well as countless other identities that I do not hold.

It is not just about the candidate. Donald Trump is the figurehead for a campaign of inflammatory hatred against anyone that isn’t a white, cisgender, heterosexual, Christian man. It is about millions of people feeling threatened and unsafe because of the policies that Trump promised to institute or repeal. It’s about the violence and intolerance his supporters have demonstrated at Trump rallies. It’s about the campaign’s overwhelming message to marginalized people: We are not included in Trump’s “great America.”

On Wednesday evening, I went to mass for the first time in several years at Sheil Catholic Center. I’m not religious in the slightest, but I needed to try to make sense of this outcome in a spiritual sense. I wanted to speak to the feelings of worthlessness and betrayal inside my body. I thought of Kayla. I thought of what this outcome would mean for other small Black, Muslim and Latinx children. How do we show them that we cannot let this pain and fear felt throughout marginalized communities be normalized? How do we stay resilient when this is no longer an isolated event, but a nationwide movement against our lives?

On Thursday morning, I woke up without the desire to cry.

I was hurt on Tuesday. I am hurting today. I will continue to hurt. Our communities will hurt for who knows how long, and that’s okay. But something is turning inside me. There is a new fire, a new anger, a new passion. This hurt and pain we feel can be transformed into something radical and beautiful. To everyone who is hurting as I am, to people who identify as Latinx, Black, a woman, an immigrant, LGBTQ, indigenous and Native American, Muslim, differently-abled folks, a person of color, a survivor of assault and so many other marginalized communities: we matter.

While the United States may not love us, we must love one another. We must love fiercely, and we must show we’re not willing to give this fight up to someone with an agenda as full of hate as Donald Trump’s. Protests have already begun across the country, with marginalized people and allies already coming together to let people know that this man does not represent them.

And once we have healed, we must organize against the entitlement and violence that Trump supporters are already acting upon.

Everyone demonstrates resistance differently. For some of us, simply existing is resistance in itself. But we must at the very least come together and show that we will not stand for this. If you are a white ally, show up. Prove that you love and care for your friends who hold marginalized identities and uplift them. Actively work to deconstruct and denounce the white supremacist practices in your life and in society, now more than ever.

And for those of us who are marginalized: all of us, our parents and our ancestors, have worked to make this country what it is. While the United States’ history is colonial, racist, violent and full of the exploitation and suffering of marginalized people, we have overcome before. We have helped make this country great despite how it has treated us. We deserve that credit. We deserve to feel safe. We deserve to feel appreciated. We deserve to be here.

Isabella Soto is a Medill sophomore. She can be contacted at isabellasoto2019@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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