It has been one week since we woke up to the news that Donald J. Trump is now the President-elect of the United States. In this post, Culture Shockers share their initial reactions—fears and hopes, observations and questions—in the wake of last Tuesday’s results.
The story of humanity is not one of constant progress. It is, rather, one of inextinguishable resilience.
Just as in a body, our pain is not wrong. Our pain is a sign that something is wrong. Just as in a body, the healing comes next.
Last week I wrote about women’s fierce love for each other, and how it is born from our collective grief. After days of inconsolable grief, I feel that love rising in me, fire-like. And I am ready to wield it. —Sheridan
A concern of mine is that the concepts of “liberal elites” specific to this election season and “elitism” generally speaking will become the standard explanation for Trump’s ascendancy. It is an attractive rationalization, much more so than that of inherent racism, xenophobia, bigotry or atavistic American nativism (early exit polls clearly indicate that the reality is much more nuanced and complex than that). This is not to say, however, that those ugly factors played no part in Trump’s election. His PR and messaging strategy placed dog-whistle politics squarely at the center of the persona he crafted. And there is great value in examining the vehemence of the anti-establishment sentiment expressed in this electoral outcome—its real, it should be addressed, and its perfectly legitimate on socioeconomic, political and cultural grounds. What concerns me far more than these significant structural and systemic issues is the practical reality underpinning our collective sense of national fragmentation: we live in a hyper-segregated, overly atomized society. —Matthias
How can I explain to the Moroccan family who have welcomed me into their home so warmly this semester that they would no longer be welcome in my country? —Ellen
My California upbringing and Boston college life embedded ideals that assured the deconstruction of a discriminatory system. I always believed that our country was moving towards my idea of progress and equality, but this election shattered my thickened idealism. I was naive. —Grace
At a time in which the need for dialogue and discussion is at an all-time high, it is painstaking to see two sides continuously screaming into two separate vacuums. What the election left me with is a feeling of hollowness, and a desire to understand what exactly it was that I got wrong. Surely, there must be some rationality as to why people banded behind someone who has run on a platform of hate, misogyny, and xenophobia? Surely there must be a reason they supported someone who offered no specifics in terms of policies, but did propose grandiose plans he has already begun backing down on? By voting for Trump you may not have been racist or misogynistic or xenophobic at heart, but you condoned the kinds of behavior that enable those ideals. You’re not against the equal treatment of minorities, you just happen to not support it. I’m just wondering how you could possibly rationalize or come to terms with that without having blinders on, and I’m still not sure I’ve heard a satisfactory answer.
I would love to. I really would.
At the very least, can we agree that climate change is real now? I don’t think even the biggest deniers would argue that the atmosphere isn’t feeling pretty toxic these days. —Aaraf
I wonder how we will be telling this story someday. I wonder, even as the weight of what is happening keeps settling over me, over and over again. The heaviness of the next four years feels incomprehensible still, but the past week is already beginning to be spun into a narrative. Most of the people I know are writers, academics, teachers—are people in the business of sense-making and storytelling. I wonder how to make sense of this.
I find myself repeating poetry. I find myself trying to be as gentle as possible with the people around me. I am not sure this is enough. It is not enough for me, and it is not enough for the people who are hurting worse than me. Right now, I am not sure what would be enough. I am surrounded by calls to action, calls for kindness, calls for understanding, for making sense. I wish I was more sure of how to answer. —Emily
To our nation of immigrants, to our LGBTQAI+ family, to our black lives, to our people of color, to our indigenous voices, to our Muslim souls, to our nasty women, to our trans folks, and to our allies…
There is an intersectionality in life that ties us together. So, while we have different stories, this is a message for us all.
Please grieve for as long as your soul needs to heal, do not rush your pain to satisfy a call to action if your wounds are still bleeding.
Please allow others that same consideration, because while we are all connected we are not all hurt the same.
Disregard the call to deny what has been defined as a language of “political correctness”, and instead think about each other as human beings, with feelings, a language where that definition is irrelevant.
Know that these times are not complicated. These isms and phobias are easy to understand. Yet, these are the times that drain us of our hope because this hatred is not easy to have hurled at you like stones.
Know that there is hope for tomorrow, we have been knocked down before.
Know that there is hope for tomorrow, we have risen every single time.
Know that I am young, that I am learning, that I am sad, that I am already tired, but I that I will not quit on you and I know you have not quit on us, even if you need a break from this horrid system that privileges points over people.
I will reiterate, take as long as you need, because no matter what anyone says this is not normal. This should not feel ok. This is not humane.
Yet also know that we’ll be here fighting, loving, learning, and rebuilding until you get back. —Moe—