With the inauguration now behind us, I found myself reminiscing about the feeling I had when Trump got elected and was compelled to write about it especially after seeing his Inauguration speech…. stark contrast compared to Obamas, by the way. As you have already suspected from the title, I am living abroad, but I will catch any newcomers up. Recently, I moved from America to Madrid, Spain to travel by teaching English and to learn Spanish; two things that I have always desired to do. My experience here has been exciting, yet challenging at times, but judging from the way things are going in the States, timely. The first time I became afraid for America was when Trump became the Republican’s Primary Presidential Candidate. I remember looking at the television disgusted and worried, but not surprised. I believe his positions on race, sex, and individual freedoms, among others things, were/are exactly how many Americans consciously or subconsciously felt.
He emboldened a group of people that minorities knew existed and others refused to acknowledge. So, here we are finding ourselves being led by a man that is under-qualified, with divisive and dangerous speech, and seemingly uninterested in taking on the responsibilities associated with being Commander of the Free World. He supported this claim when he explained to Fox News Sunday how he is too smart to take part in the traditional and much needed, might I add, daily intelligence briefing, He stated. “I don't have to be told—you know, I’m, like, a smart person. I don’t have to be told the same thing in the same words every single day for the next eight years. Could be eight years — but eight years. I don't need that. But I do say, 'If something should change, let us know."
Let me know? Eight years? Dear God! Trump; let us not get ahead of ourselves by projecting another four years, when you seem to be showing yourself irresponsible and sidetracked by tweeting your hurt feelings to SNL. Not only that, but ‘let me know’ was stated like you clearly forgot that that “minor responsibility” was taken on by every single president before you. Maybe you forgot that your core duty is to protect and lead the American people, by gaining every bit of information you need to do so. It was at that moment that I realized I was experiencing the first stage of grief.
SHOCK, DENIAL & NUMBNESS “This isn’t happening,” are the words I kept repeating in my mind. After fighting to stay awake until 5am GMT (Spain is 6 hours ahead of the states), I dozed off an hour before an official announcement was made, but woke up feeling as if I was kicked in the stomach when reading CNN’s website stating that Trump won the 2017 presidential election. I was in disbelief and the hunger I was feeling in my stomach that morning left immediately. “Maybe this was a mistake?” I thought to myself. Sure, CNN is a reputable news outlet, but at this moment in time, I was hoping they got it WRONG. Nope! I looked at my phone and saw that I missed text messages from my host father who knew who I had voted for.
Host Father: “Hello, in this day of turmoil, I can only say that Madrid should be a place of solace for the digestion of this news we’re receiving. Sometimes we just realize that our perception of reality is far from being right. The people have made a decision, and it’s up to us to handle it. Let’s keep calm.”
However, I couldn’t keep calm. In fact, I believe I had a full-blown panic attack. How could this happen? Why did this happen? Most importantly, what exactly is going to happen moving forward? All I wanted to do was get in contact with my brother and father, who are African American males and tell them to stay home. Having been raised in a community where it wasn’t uncommon to see confederate flags, as an African American woman, I was terrified for them. What would be the reaction within the community I was raised in? Would it be anything like what was being reported on television concerning hate crimes and vandalism, something I regularly saw while attending my district’s public school 12 years ago? All I knew was that I suddenly felt exhausted, and now needed a nap soon after I woke up.
ANGER The day after the election I went into the school like it was any other day, forgetting about the previous day’s events and thinking it was a dream of some sort. I found myself entering the class of 6th graders I was teaching, whistling the tune of, “ Don’t Worry Be Happy,” a song they are obsessed with, and was now embedded in my head. Just before class one of my students came up to me, patted my back, and gently stated, “Trump…Elections…Don’t worry Ms. Bing. It’ll be alright.”
Sidenote: Spaniards are incredibly affectionate, which I genuinely appreciate.
After hearing these words come out of his mouth, my carefree manner quickly turned into vexation, followed by a repulsed look. I couldn’t blame the kid. He was just trying to console me, but instead, reality set in again, and all I could do was shake my head and say, “thanks,” as anger began setting in. I was then angry the whole week, and although the anger has now turned into complete disgust, it comes out now and again when I find myself talking to fellow Americans about the election; specifically, if I find out that they are vehemently for Trump.
I always find myself wearing an incredulous expression on my face as I think about how oblivious one must be to have voted for him. Did they realize the potential damage he could do, not to mention the damage he has already done with the hate speech he spewed throughout his campaign speech to now? Unfortunately, this is probably an unapologetic ‘Yes.’ With his decisions regarding who he has put in his office thus far, Mike Pense, Steve Bannon, Betsy DeVos to name a few, it seems inevitable that damage will be done.
A vote for this man deemed his actions permissible, and sorry honey, but you are guilty by association. One cannot stand by and say I’m not racist, sexist, or a xenophobe, but then support a racist, sexist, and a xenophobe. Even if one claims to not be one, racism, sexism, etc.… were not thought to be valid reasons to vote against him. It screams, “ I don’t care as long as I’m not affected by it directly!” I’m not saying Hilary was the least bit of a saint, but my God, she didn’t throw around hate and have it as a moving force for her campaign.
DEPRESSION I don’t like to throw this word around mainly because it is often used so loosely, but it sure felt like I was going through this. From the loss of appetite to the lack of concentration and sleep, I genuinely became a ball of anxiety. Fear was at the forefront of my mind when my Spaniard coworkers would bring up this topic for discussion. “Is this how Americans really feel?” many would ask. America has become a laughing stock to this country, but their laughs were brief once I explained to them that this election affects them as well. When hit with that sad realization many would agree. Jose Carlos, a friend of mine, stated:
“You’re right. For the most part, the U.S. has a good relationship with a lot of countries because of Obama, and I could only imagine how those relationships will be altered because of Trump. Even though the U.S. has had many problems, people look up to the United States, especially when Obama became president. It at least showed that you all were moving in the right direction, despite pushback from what we thought were only from a few.”
When he expressed his opinion, I couldn’t help, but feel embarrassed. Even though I am a minority, I’m still in Spain as a representative of my country, one that I have had a love/hate relationship with while learning and unlearning the truth and lies of our nation. However, the information that he explained to me was making me feel sick.
When it came to bargaining, I kept telling myself that I wish I could’ve done more. In fact, I felt a bit guilty about not encouraging and explaining to those I knew were voting for Trump that Hillary would be the best candidate. Now don’t get me wrong. I initially voted for Bernie Sanders to become the lead Democratic representative because I thought he could do more for my community than Hillary could and has done. Based on her track record in the 90’s concerning mass incarcerations she hasn't always looked out for my community.
However, to me, it was an obvious choice to pick Hillary over Donald. Yes, she had some flaws…and MAJOR ones at that, but you can’t deny that she is not only intelligent, but also more qualified. She also hasn’t flip-flopped with her position on various topics like Donald has, such as abortion and his ever-changing views on immigration. One minute he’s talking about his belief in Pro-life only to “coincidently” change his view when campaigning under this party. Then, we have immigration, in which he’s stated time and time again about building a wall and making Mexico pay for it, only to tweet, “The dishonest media does not report that any money spent on building the Great Wall (for the sake of speed), will be paid back by Mexico later!” The only thing this guy has been is consistently INCONSISTENT. People are who they are, especially if they’ve shown you themselves several times.
I believe this is the hardest step to get to when grieving, but I’ve always been a person to tackle fear head on no matter how long that takes. So, I have accepted the fact that Trump is president, but I haven’t left it there. Being a bit of an optimist, I will finish by encouraging those that are mourning to now fight. Do not give into such hatred. Allow yourself to go through the emotions and meditate on the fact that great gain is often preceded by great displeasure. With Trump now having a seat in the White House let your anger and discomfort motivate you to take action and follow the words and example of our former President.
“Whether you are young or whether you are young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your President. The same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago. I am asking you to believe, not in my ability to bring about change, but in yours…Yes, we can. Yes, we did. Yes, we can.”
President Barack Obama
Farewell Speech 10 Jan 2017
Carlos, J. (2017, Jan 20). Personal Interview
Cillizza, Chris. “Donald Trup is a ‘smart person’ in case you forgot.” The Washington Post. 12 Dec. 2017.The Fix. 22 Jan 2017 https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/12/12/donald-trump-doesnt-need-a-daily-intelligence-briefing-according-to-donald-trump/?utm_term=.d51b34de760a.
Hartmann, Margaret. “ GOP Congress Has Plan to Build Trump’s Border Wall, Make America Pay for It.” New York Magazine. 6 Jan 2017. 22 Jan 2017. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/01/trump-gop-have-plan-to-build-wall-make-u-s-pay-for-it.html
Moreno, A. (2017, Nov 9). Phone Interview
Obama, B. (2017) “President Obama’s Farewell Speech.” The New York Times.
11 Jan. 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/video/us/politics/100000004864201/watch-live-president-obamas-farewell-speech.html