written by Vanessa Kaelyn

November 9th, 2016.A date that was only a little over a month ago, but will be remembered in the history of the United States as the day the impossible became possible. Although the past year has been overflowing with the voices of news reporters, political debates, and an array of emotion, November 9th carried an unnatural silence. Everyone I had encountered seemed estranged, distant, and cold. Even those who had supported Trump carried the same disposition. The air was heavy and seemed to drown my city, putting her into a coma I was not sure she would ever recover from. I recall trying to talk to a friend of mine who I have known for years. I texted him, seeking comfort, craving to connect with someone…but he simply replied, ” I don’t really like thinking about what happened… but good luck.” Good luck? Since when did one of my best friends ever reply to my times of need with “good luck?” At first, I was angry, thinking that one of my friends was being so apathetic. As the day continued however, I realized he wasn’t the only one who was acting in such a way, but roommates, parents, professors, grocery store clerks, and even eleven year olds were as well. It was a day that seemed to stretch into eternity. But with each passing day, the voices of the people began to fill the silence. Slowly but gradually, people spoke up. My friends, family, and everyone around me seemed to no longer want to stay quiet and phone calls and text messages flashed on my phone screen. Nine men and women from different ethnic backgrounds, sexual orientations, political parties, and countries told me their story.

Here are their raw, unedited accounts of November 9th:

“When my alarm went off November 9th, the first couple of seconds I was awake felt normal. Then, something set me off and I remembered things were now different. Donald Trump had won the presidential election the night before and, if not for me, but for many other people, lives were changed. My first class that day was Political Theory, and I was really interested to see what that specific class environment would be. After that class, I felt just plain exhausted and skipped one other class that day to sit with friends and talk to each other about our feelings of the election results and what this meant for our country. Weirdly enough (maybe weird, maybe expected), my professor was understanding of the skip—it seemed like there was an unspoken aura on campus of understanding people’s need to take a breather. We all knew everyone felt a wide range of emotions and owned different perspectives over the race, and that was okay. It still is okay. If nothing else, this election provided us the opportunity to unite against division and continue to show one another grace and love. This election highlighted the diversity of America and what can foster from that. Instead of fighting fire with fire, we’re allowed to listen, to love, to think, and to move on toward a future built on those granted opportunities. A Trump presidency does not mean we freeze and stop all action pertaining to the overwhelming division and injustice taking place. Do take the time needed to care for yourself and do continue to keep the dialogue going with people about how you can make a positive change. But when you’re ready, look to your community and yourself for ways to love everyone, regardless of character, demographic, etc. Whatever your emotions about the election may be, take those emotions and ingrain them into a place of positive impact and understanding. It all means something. We all mean something, our voices and our actions all mean something as well. And that’s the most powerful thing out there.”

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“My mind was foggy and disoriented on election night. I could not think straight as the fate of America was being decided right in front of my eyes. “The lesser of two evils,” they say, but as for me, I just wanted it all to stop. I wanted life to continue just as it always had. I didn’t want riots or massive news coverage; I wanted unity. And, as I woke up the next morning, I pretended that, indeed, life was as normal as ever. I pretended that Donald Trump, our president-elect, would not and could not change me and the rest of America. However, he can. Whether that will be for the best or the worst no one can say. As someone who is same-sex attracted (gay) and a believer in the salvation of Jesus Christ, I found myself stuck between two worlds. After all, as I saw it religious freedom and LGBTQ+ rights were in complete opposition. I hated the fact that giving rights to some people, is taking rights away from others. On the other hand, it angered me that many conservatives wanted to take rights away from the LGBTQ community for their own personal satisfaction. Forcing rules and regulations that take away essential parts of the human experience onto others just can’t be right. Along with the long list of minorities in America, the LGBTQ movement can’t and won’t be put to a stop with the election of Trump. And, I hope that Trump will have enough sense to realize that people’s lives are in his hands and that he must protect them with everything he has. After all, the diverse people of America are of high value and the preservation of their rights is the key to making America great again.”

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“Like all Wednesdays, I woke up early on 11/9 to get ready for my job. Unlike other days, the first thing I did was not thanking God for another day of my life but checking my phone to see who won the 2016 US election. After realizing that it is Trump, I was a bit scared and probably upset. I said an empty prayer, insincere prayer, and headed down to Carroll Hall for my job. One may wonder why I, first, was upset. I was scared because I have heard with my own ears, the soon-to-be the president of United States (POTUS) preaching hatred. Even if I am nothing to judge, I learn who people are through their words and deeds because that is all I can know. I was gifted to know neither the motives behind people’s deeds nor their inner selves. Since the POTUS is the most powerful man in the world, I was terrified not because I will be deported, at least I did not come here illegally, but because there are thousands and thousands of people in and out of United States who might suffer from discrimination, inequality, etc.

After two hours working, I headed back to my dorm room to take shower with the hope that afterward, things will get better. As I unlocked my phone to read messages from my friends, all I would see was fear, despair, complaints, anguish, judgements, all kinds of bad emotions in most of those messages.

I felt so overwhelmed and wondered what I can do. It was a dark day for most of my friends and I included.

Few minutes after reading the messages, I sat on my bed and reflected on who I am. I asked myself how Christ would want to me react in that moment. I knew it was over. I knew that Trump was now the POTUS. I knew that Trump was elected and is gonna be the most powerful man in the world. I had to admit that. There was no turning back. I was not able to change anything. I had to move on and hope for the best.

After the reflection moment, I reminded myself that everyone perceive things differently. I decided not to take the election results too personal and to encourage my friends to do same. I prayed God to give me the power of accepting what I cannot change and the wisdom to change what I can. None of us was able to change the election results but we all were/still are able to change the hatred into love, harsh disagreements into respectful disagreements, self-centeredness into unity. This is not the time to be controlled by fear and anger. In fact, this is the time to think about what can pull us together as human beings rather than what can pull us apart.

Even if I sometimes fail to love, I know that it is my mission to bring a Yes to whoever asks this question: “Am I loved?”. I do not want to live in the world where true love, unconditional love is invisible.

I sent all my reflection points to my friends and felt relieved. I went back to the routine happily as usual.”

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“Regarding the election, I had very mixed views about our country, but after seeing diverse communities come together as one made me feel grateful. I am happy I live in a country where I have the right to express my own opinion. Also, I did not feel very empowered as a member of the Latino community, knowing that my people were going to be affected by the outcome of the election. It angered me knowing that so many communities would be affected, for example LGBTQ+ and other targeted groups. Even though it was a small gesture, I believe the protest made a huge impact on the city and on our lives.”

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“Waking up on November 9th, I remember a mix of emotions; the first of which being that I had missed my 8 A.M. I can remember though, the strange anticipation I had about the political situation. The night before, we had watched Donald Trump be elected president, something which shocked everyone around. I specifically remembered thinking how strange of a system and society we have which would lead to the giving of the position of President of the United States to a man such as Donald Trump. The feeling was weird, and I could definitely feel an emotion of uncertainty. What would this mean for our country? What would this mean for our already politically polarized society? What would he help? What would he hurt? He is such an unpredictable wildcard. I felt that society was going to see some definite changes, yet at the same time, would it? President Obama was one of the most radical presidents, but somehow the average U.S. citizen saw only little change in their own lives throughout his presidency. I felt like some people definitely would overreact, but I do not want to downplay the importance of such an event. Overall, the feeling was one of uncertainty and anticipation on the morning of November 9th.”

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“The day after the election seemed like any other day to me when I woke up. When I left my dorm room, I started to notice a difference. People were more agitated and more emotional. Teachers were canceling classes. I didn’t feel different, but I noticed a difference in my everyday life.”

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“On November 9th my body ached as I sensed great tension all across the nation. Many voters in this election were basically forced to choose whichever candidate we believed was “the lesser of two evils.” That is definitely not what our founding fathers envisioned for us, yet it was what I and millions of others experienced this year. The thing that disturbed me the most was not the President Elect but the acknowledgment of our country’s extreme polarization. I saw friends look down upon other friends and treat them differently simply because their political opinions were different. I saw people being attacked and harassed because of their votes. Many did not even voice their opinions out of fear of being ostracized. Do people not understand that political affiliations do not equate people with the stereotyped evils of certain parties? Polarization like this is a real threat to democracy. How long can a country keep its power and influence in the worldafter its people become divided. For the sake of our nation, I pray that we can all mend the wounds of divergence from this election and reclaim unity.

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“As I woke up on November 9th, my stomach was in knots and it felt like someone had slapped me in the face. As I laid on my bed, I was trying to figure out whether last night was just a bad dream, but it wasn’t. I couldn’t get out of bed. My body felt heavy because it was filled with anxiety. The night before was a rough one for me and others across the nation.

When it came down to Clinton and Trump,I knew this was no ordinary election. It was a special one that had candidates that everyone was not crazy about and people were worried. I was worried. The night before was crazy at my school. We had a huge viewing, but once it was half way done, I couldn’t watch it anymore. It was getting ugly.  I started to panic. My hands were getting sweaty and my chest grew tighter. The only thing I could think about was my family, especially my mother.

The results came in and I just went straight to bed. I questioned whether this was the right choice for this country and for my people. I could not believe this was happening. I had a headache just thinking how the next day would be. I pictured everyone fearing for their future, wondering what was in it for them. However it was the opposite. Everyone was having a normal day. I heard people laughing and having fun with their friends. How could this be I thought to myself. Was it just me?

To this day, in the back of my head, there is still worry and fear for my future. Will I survive the next four years? My family? My people? I pray that there is hope coming this way in the near future. There is only so much I can do.”

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“Do you know the feeling of dampness? When a crisp autumn leaf has fallen in a pond, soaked and neutralized of all it’s strength? Or when you emerge your feet in water and your socks get soggy and cold. November 9th was a real soggy day and not a good soggy like a creme brûlée or a moist lemon square, but like an ugly soggy, like tears have been abusing my cheeks all night and it doesn’t seem like it’s gonna stop, that ugly.

What’s worse was that November 9th was my birthday, my grand ol’ 18 years of age was spent in mourning of my life rather than the celebration of it. I had anxiously watched the polls on my laptop alone the night before, and as I watched Tr*mp’s numbers rise, the percentage of my hope dwindled until my chest physically hurt, until he won and I found myself desperately looking for second chances, like the possibility of a recount, impeachment, or anything else that could get that orange mushroom out of office, but literally he was unshakeable. After all his scandals, he won? Half of America voted for him, the majority of the electoral college believed he was a better suited leader than Hillary and I shut my laptop and lay for hours in shock as the realization slowly sunk into me. Donald Trump would be our president, the House and the Senate would be Republican lead, and half of America was okay with this, while the other half was starting to truly feel that startling reality sink in. The possibility of reversing years of progress could come true. Human rights, foreign affairs, economical stability, all of it would turn into a complete shit show.

Yeah I sound pretty dramatic and like I’m already foreshadowing doomsday, but that’s how it feels. People were protesting on the streets, racial tensions were still on high account, and Trump is only concerned on whether people like him or not than to fix this and unite the country. I unapologetically dislike Trump. He’s endorsed by the KKK for god sakes. Believe me, I understand Hillary isn’t any better with her white feminism and sketchy scandals. She’s untrustworthy and fake and not the majority of the Democrats choice, but the point is that she was the better choice.

On November 9th I felt that heavy dampness in my bones, weakening my limbs. Like I had been rudely drenched in the ocean and thrown on my bed, cold and miserable. I had to wake up with all this internal conflict, then go to a school that was a majority of Republicans and probably (and I was right) celebrating Trump’s ungraceful victory. And listen, I don’t hate republicans, I don’t hate democrats, but I am tired of how problematic and polarized these parties are and how un-American this process actually feels. I’m extremely disappointed in the majority of ideals the republicans uplift and things they allow to occur, so I am obviously hesitant about how the next four years are going to turn out.

I shouldn’t have to feel insecure and afraid of going to my school because I secretly dislike Trump, I shouldn’t feel afraid to respectfully disagree or believe my own political beliefs, but I did. And that’s a problem, because I know both sides feel that way with each other when we shouldn’t. The problem is that the political system is so fucked it gave us two terrible options and put it’s citizens in unfavorable positions.

So much for the land of the free, I feel like this country itself is exhausting me and swallowing up all my hopes and dreams. Yay, happy birthday to me.”

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Keep on fighting Souldier.

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