Nov. 9th, 2016

Last night and well into today, I have been thinking about (can you believe it?) the American presidential election. 

I missed the age cut off for voting in this election by a few months. Before the votes were actually being counted, I'd been quite glad about that, telling myself, "At least I don't have to take responsibility for this garbage fire of an election." But oh, how last night I wished that I could've voted--could've done something to make a difference. 

I am a white person. I am a middle-class person. I was born in the States and English is my first language, and so has it been with the rest of my family for well over the past century. I follow a religion that is very well known and not oft persecuted in America. I have operated under an educational system that rewards me for understanding it. I will be going to university next fall, and I will not be going into debt to do so. 

The list of my privilege goes on and on. But so many are not in my circumstances. So many have so very much to fear by these election results. 

A year ago today was the first time that I ever sat in on and volunteered at an ESL (English as a Second Language) class. In this past year, I've been able to learn so much about how little I actually know, about the incredible amounts of privilege with which I've been born, and understanding how I can move beyond that to empathetically understand the experiences of others. One of my students, who I've known since the beginning and have seen grow so much in her English, recently had her case at immigration rejected and was forced to move back to Venezuela. Her fiancé (who had been living here for a long time) is going back with her, even though it's the last thing that they wanted, because they can't afford to apply for a visa again in Venezuela (as the government instructed her to do).

It broke my heart to see her forced to leave. She'd started her life here as a student, and committed herself to working so hard to improve her English. She is smart and kind and creative and loving, but now she's got to go.

And that's just the story of one person trying to approach immigration through the system--she did everything right, and yet still she was rejected. What about the millions of undocumented immigrants who do not have a path to citizenship and face the fear of deportation every day? What about those who have been trying to immigrate for years but cannot? What about those who are citizens and who have immigrated, but fear losing their families to deportation? 

And what of those who have faced and will continue to face racism every day? These protests of late are not without reason--we have so much growing to do in the area of understanding the experiences of others, and of realizing that being color blind does not mean ignoring racial issues. We have so much work to do in the pursuit of racial equality.

Then there's the LGBTQ community--both those who are loud and proud but are now in fear for their futures and rights, and those who may never come out for fear of the repercussions. What a painful time it is for them, and for so many. 

We have so much good left to do. It is my sincerest hope that this president proves us wrong--that he grows and learns from this election, and is able to lead well. I am not optimistic, but oh how I am praying. 

Today I cry for America. I cry for those unnecessarily living in fear by virtue of their existence. I cry for those who are blinded by hatred and think that it is the solution to their problems. I cry for those who will not endeavor to understand the political opinions of others (as I am trying to do...it is hard). I cry for the brokenness of the States, that we thought that this would be the solution to this schism in our nation.

I believe in hoping for the better, and in finding the silver lining, and in praying when it seems hopeless. And I shall do all of those things in time. But for now, I mourn. 

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abalonepearl

June 2017

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