The past two days have made me realize, in undeniably stark terms, as to how privileged I am.
I live in a part of the country where the overwhelming majority of what I see on my Facebook newsfeed are news articles; personal thoughts; live videos of interviews, debates, and protests; and jokes, even, that speak to how much we want to witness a woman be elected President.
There are — from what I can see — civil discussions and debates about policies and beliefs. No one is ever alone in celebrating or in mourning, and now, more so than ever, there is an outpouring of love and support from one community to another.
As I watched live feeds trailing the masses of students congregating on Berkeley campus earlier today, I was — and still am — proud to call myself a Cal alum. I am proud of the Berkeley students, grads, faculty, and community members who were out there today, and as I looked upon all the familiar buildings, I wished I could be there with them.
I am proud to be a part of a community that so desperately wants to fight for people to be seen, heard, identified, and respected as human beings with rights.
But as the results came out last night, like many others on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, I was stunned.
And that was when I realized my reality — though in no way perfect — was far prettier than that of many others around the country.
Given that this article appeared in my aforementioned social media feeds this morning, I think (and I hope) many of my friends made this realization around the same time as I did. It’s a bit of a lengthy read, so I’ve pulled out what I found to be the most relevant quotes:
“Much of the reason for the divide [between Clinton voters and Trump voters] lies in the fact that the front row is doing much better than the back row.”
“The back row and its frustrations weren’t written about much in the media, which also had been taken over by us front-row kids working in front-row towns and living in front-row neighborhoods.”
“The worrying data — stagnating incomes for most Americans, and growing inequality — were just statistics. The accompanying anger, frustration, and humiliation didn’t register.”
“‘Why did we bail out Wall Street, but when our factories left, nobody bailed us out?’ people asked.”
“[Trump] was mocking us, and the back row loved it when he mocked us. Where we saw outlandish and boorish behavior, his supporters saw a rebel shooting spitballs at the smug front-row kids.”
(If you’d like to read a similar article that’s shorter, The New York Times just published this opinion piece that follows a similar vein.)
I do not blame these voters, nor do I challenge these experiences.
Because it is for similar reasons — wanting to be heard, to be seen, to have our experiences be validated and our rights respected — that the community on my social media channels voted for Hillary Clinton.
I know that the ramifications and realities of these wants on both sides are different. I know. I have not only seen it from the experiences of my friends and fellow community members; I have felt it myself in various situations, each of which has only made me become progressively wary.
My heart hurts.
But I refuse to give in to the hate-mongering and the anger and the movements to move to Canada (even if I do like Justin Trudeau).
Over the past two days, it has become clear that there is a massively underestimated gap — in communication, in understanding, and in compassion — that is, frankly, a basic human right.
Please don’t get me wrong. I am incredibly upset. It has been an emotional day for some of my closest friends and myself. All day, I have been dragged from one emotional extreme to the next for reasons I don’t want to get into in a public space. But know that I am not disagreeing with you on that front.
However, as Hillary Clinton said so beautifully in her concession speech this morning, it is “our responsibility as citizens is to keep doing our part, to build that better, stronger, fairer America we seek. … If we stand together, and work together, with respect for our differences, strength in our convictions, and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us.”
I know it hurts, because I’m still hurting too. But over time, I want to see this community turn our emotions toward the right fight.
I wrote this on my Facebook earlier today because it resonated with me the most: “And to the young people in particular, I hope you will hear this… This loss hurts, but please, never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”
Berkeley has made me realize that I am in a space of privilege.
I am, however, grateful that Berkeley has allowed me to — and still allows me to, thanks to social media — grow and learn from those around me, particularly those who have the courage to fight for what they believe in each day.
And it is also Berkeley that has, I believe, taught me to become a better listener, a better speaker, a better writer, and a better communicator. I am upset by the ignorance, obliviousness, and lack of understanding this election has rendered clear to us.
Please, always make the choice to communicate better, to love harder, and to fight for what’s right.
“When they go low, we go high.”
Featured photo courtesy of Oscar Alvarez.