To Trump supporters who are vilifying protesters, however peaceful:
Please understand that to a lot of people in America, he poses a real danger. Maybe not directly, but his words and his promises incite violence in the hearts of people who support him. There was even a man who got so angry after a black man cut him off in traffic that he said, “If you weren’t filming me right now, I’d kill you.” He then started chanting Donald Trump’s name. Please take a minute just to think. Think about the fact that there are real, living, breathing people in your classes and in your immediate circles that are afraid of this man. Please, just take a moment to think about that. Understand that he appointed Mike Pence who supports violent conversion therapy for queer and trans Americans. What crime have they committed other than existing without fear? They are American citizens and their government should not want to see them in pain. Understand that people who have come to this country in search of a better life for themselves and their families no longer feel as though their lives will be better if they stay here. We have prided ourselves on being a safe haven from persecution. Our own constitution states that all men are created equal. How can we then tell people who pursued their dreams and felt as though we are the greatest country on earth that they have supposedly ruined our country and they must leave specifically because of their skin color or where they have come from?
Understand that we are not just charging the streets with blind, unincorporated anger. We are not just pictures on social media or videos on the news. We are real people. We are expressing our First Amendment right of freedom of speech by speaking out against a man who we believe will hurt us. Our tears are not simply caused by Secretary Clinton’s loss. They are frustration. They are fear. We are real people and we are afraid. We should not be afraid of our own leader.
I cannot say that I can understand every person’s individual reason for supporting Donald Trump and voting for him. I cannot say that all Trump supporters are racist, misogynistic, queerphobic, transphobic or otherwise prejudiced. But I do know that you saw him say things that represented these ideas, support people who are, and decided that that is the voice that should speak for our nation. You decided that is what our country stands for. You gave your support to two men whose ideal America is one without people like me in it, even if you acknowledge that you don’t support their bigoted comments or policies.
My family has served during war. They fought for what they felt was a noble cause: protecting their country, their families, and Americans who could not protect themselves. They suffered physical and mental injury to do it. Is this what they sacrificed for? Did they sacrifice peace of mind and valuable time with us for their fellow Americans to be afraid of men who are supposed to protect us and lead us in times of uncertainty? I do not think so.
I cannot say that I can see humanity in the same light as I did before. I knew that there were other Americans who felt hatred towards people like me because of our skin color, sexuality, gender identity or anything else that makes us who we are. I didn’t know that that hate would have power over so many people. I sincerely wish that it didn’t. But this is the choice that you have made in your presidential vote. Though your feelings that Trump and Pence are what America needs are valid, so are the ones that I voice in this letter.
To people who want to take a middle ground and who also vilify protest:
I cannot support your perspective, and for that I am sorry. I cannot share the sentiment that submitting to this election will solve the outrage. I don’t think it will. Unprovoked and outright violence won’t solve it either. What will solve this problem is the refusal to be silenced by two men who think that the people that they promise to erase from the American narrative will just taking this lying down. Our anger is not without direction. Our fear is not without something to be afraid of. Our sadness is not without broken hearts. Complacency in lieu of supporting either side weakens the strength of the people who need it most. Looking down your nose at us does nothing but give support to two men whose political supporters promise that we will pay for the crime of opposing them. I am not angry at you. I am disappointed.
To supplement that, I’d also like to say that screaming “MIDTERM ELECTION” in someone’s face isn’t comforting. It’s rude. It spits in the faces of people who felt genuine terror and despair in their hearts when they saw that Donald Trump and Mike Pence are projected to have won the Electoral College vote and tells them their feelings don’t matter. I get that you’re trying to comfort someone like me, a person who’s affected by this election in more ways than one. I get it. But getting annoyed with people who are still in tears, who felt so afraid that they didn’t leave the house and who are being forced back into the closet for fear of death and physical violence, is not the way. Comfort me by saying that we will be there for each other. Comfort me by saying that you are here for me when I lose hope. Comfort me by saying that while yes, there are midterm elections, the Electoral College doesn’t officially vote until December, which means there’s a chance we can keep him out of the White House by writing to our senators and begging them not to vote for him. Comfort me by saying that we will keep fighting back. We will fight back against people like him, until we aren’t afraid of them anymore. Until you can understand that it is not politics that we are fighting against, but real and ever-present danger, I ask you to try to do just that. Understand our perspective and what we are facing.
To others like me:
I know that we all come from different backgrounds and we have different stories to tell. It is at this time that we need each other more than ever. We must unite together and protect one another. We must stand together and make our voices heard. Peaceful protest is our right. If we cannot depend on each other then we have truly given up. The fight will be long and it will be hard, but we can survive. We must refuse to roll over and submit to tyranny by continuing to peacefully protest, by encouraging those in swing states who oppose Trump to call and write to their senators and petition that they vote for Secretary Clinton, by spreading resources for people seeking help.
I will stand with you. I will stand with Muslim women who have been attacked for wearing hijabs. I will stand with Latinx children who cried when their fellow classmates chanted “build the wall” in their middle school cafeteria. I will stand with the family who woke up to a note that said that they will “burn in hell.” I will stand with black students who are forced to sit idle while their classmates harangue them with racial slurs. I will stand with the woman on the bus who was called “filthy” for her Asian heritage and was then told that she has ruined our country. I will stand with queer and transgender Americans who are more fearful than ever before. I will stand with you. Even if all that I can do is write and help your voices to be heard, that is what I will do. I stand with you because I am a part of you. We can only fight back if we do so together.
To Donald Trump and Mike Pence:
You are not, and never will be, my president and vice president. I will not forget what you have said. I will not forget what you stand for. You can take away my civil disobedience when you pry it from my cold dead hands. I will not submit to tyranny.
A marginalized American who will not stay silent