I am dumbfounded. I am flabbergasted. I am numb. I somehow managed to successfully live in denial for almost two and a half months. But today is the day (cue Jaws music). I can’t ignore it anymore. Donald Trump was sworn in as the (gulp) President.
It took me a looong time to get out of bed this morning. Ok, it takes me a long time every morning. But today was especially brutal. I woke up hoping that this was all a nightmare. I have had very elaborate and vivid dreams before (my imagination is lit). So this was just another one, right? I’m still waiting for Ashton Kutcher to tell us that we were all on a long (and cruel) episode of Punk’d. Or for someone to yell “Gottem!” PLEASE! Speak now, don’t hold your peace.
I am thoroughly embarrassed by this country. My international friends have questions and I have no answers. They want an explanation I simply can’t give them. WTH America? How did this happen?! How Sway? Who left the gate open? Who forgot to turn the lights off and let the battery die? Who was playing with matches and burned our house down? Whose fault is this? Who can I blame for this epic fail?
I guess I have to face the facts…WE did this. We didn’t show up in record numbers to rock our vote. We didn’t come together. We didn’t listen to each other. We laughed at Trump and his supporters (maybe that was me). We SMHed (yes, I made that a verb) and dismissed the cries of the disenfranchised and the points being made by the opposition. We were the Divided States of America.
Full disclosure, I voted for Bernie Sanders originally. Anyone that was, and still is, on the front lines of the battle for civil rights is my number one choice. Yet, Hillary won the primary. There were accusations that the DNC was rigged. But she was the candidate chosen. So I voted for her (reluctantly). I guess it would’ve been nice to go from our first black President to our first woman.
That being said, I considered not voting because I wasn’t fully sold on Hillary. I had liked Bill Clinton and hoped that he would advise her based on his experience. But then I learned some very disturbing things about the Clintons, specifically their misuse of donations in Haiti. On a trip to Haiti last April, I even saw the luxury Marriott that was allegedly built with funds donated to the Clinton Foundation. That money was supposed to rebuild Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. The amount of makeshift shacks and tent villages that I saw was evidence that the money was not going to the ones that needed it most.
I was actually confident that my vote, or lack thereof, wouldn’t make that much of a difference anyway. I thought Hillary would still win without it. There was no way that orange idiot was going to win, right? He was digging his own hole with every hateful word that came out of his mouth. He was a con artist and everyone would see it. But I still couldn’t sit out of this election. My ancestors fought (and died) for the right to vote. I wasn’t going to be a brat and not exercise that right. Then the unthinkable happened.
I took solace in the fact that Hillary won New York (and the popular vote). I was comforted by the same anger, confusion or sadness that all of my family, friends and coworkers expressed over the next few days. I wasn’t alone in my utter shock and disappointment. The women at work even started a “positivity wall” in our bathroom and shared encouraging messages on post-its to each other. There was a public and much bigger version in Union Square as well. There was still hope for us.
Despite this, I chose to retreat. I stopped watching anything political and pretended it never happened. It worked for a while too. Then last week Obama did his farewell address. I lost it. OMG. This was really happening! My man Barack was really leaving the White House and that orange dude was moving in. Side note: I went to Syracuse University and we are the Orangemen/women. Trump totally ruined that for me.
I have finally started grieving. The last eight years were so inspiring. I made the trip for Barack Obama’s first inauguration. I couldn’t miss that historic moment. Seeing such a strong black man take over the most powerful position in this country was indescribable. Even better, that regal and amazing woman at his side had me in awe. Michelle Obama is the epitome of a Queen. Plus, she is chocolate, like me! I couldn’t believe it. The love they share is #relationshipgoals. I want someone to talk about me and tear up the way Barack did for Michelle. I was a mess after that speech. Seeing Malia cry made me cry. I wasn’t ready to let go yet. I’m trying to can, but I can’t.
At first, I jumped on the #notmypresident bandwagon. That’s passive aggressive and counterproductive though. Trump is the President, whether I like it or not. It will take some time for me to stop throwing up in my mouth a little when I think about it. I can hope that he gets impeached and that we don’t really have to endure four whole years with him. Or that a system of checks and balances will prevent Trump from f**king things up too much. But in case he is there a full term, we have to be ready for action.
If anything good came out of this election, it was that we were forced to start telling the truth about this country. The curtain has been pulled back and the glaring rays of racism and sexism that many of us have apparently been shaded from are undeniable now. We saw it in the violent incidents at Trump rallies. We heard it in the hate being spewed by some of his supporters. It became clearer in the aftermath when bigots saw it as a free for all to show their arse. We see it in the unfortunate choices for his cabinet.
I don’t want all of the good that Obama did to have been in vain. I am encouraged by those that aren’t going to take his presidency lying down. I admire people like my coworker, because she is taking her five year old daughter to the women’s march in NYC. I am inspired by my friends traveling to DC to protest, march and to make their voices heard. I will find ways to do my part and to stay vigilant. I have to. I can’t sit back and let America get it this wrong ever again.