It’s been one week since Election 2016. Reporters, political correspondents and self-proclaimed experts have flooded stories and opinions into news channels and social media airwaves. And, while I’ve been hesitant about contributing another piece to the buzz, I’m putting my silence aside and in true millennial talk saying…“whatever.”
I’ve never considered myself a political person. But, entering the social work field five years ago opened my eyes to one seemingly obvious realization: We’re all part of the political world. We just have different ways of understanding and involving ourselves in it. Since then, I’ve worked to combine my journalism background with my passion for social justice to educate and advocate about social issues and our important role as millennials (and Americans) to spark positive change and carry progress globally.
Like many, I’ve done a lot of processing since Election Day, mostly about what this leadership change means for marginalized populations, my LGBT and foreign friends, and me as a woman. I’ve feared what may materialize from Donald Trump’s discriminatory campaign platform, and now watched as verbal threats and violence seep more quickly through our communities’ pores.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate crimes, about 500 complaints have been logged since the November 9th election – a higher number than immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. These complaints doubtfully include all the images that circulated social media this week illustrating discrimination in classrooms, trains and shopping malls nationwide.
Some say racism and sexism no longer exist in America. In reality, discrimination simply looks different, usually more subtle, today than in years past. Instead of riding racially segregated busses or attending gender-specific schools (unless by choice), prejudice has engrained itself in our political systems and in passing microaggressions.
It’s managers throwing aside job applications based on interpretations of candidate names, poor resources for inner city schools, food deserts in low-income neighborhoods and the objectifying of women in the media. It’s racial profiling masked as civic duty and zero tolerance policies that push disadvantaged youth out of schools and into justice systems.
This week’s discriminatory acts have been clearer to see and harder to argue. Hence, a dichotomous problem of these underlying issues now surfacing (thank God), yet surfacing in the form of hate crimes, blatant racial threats, and Ku Klux Klan uprisings (God help us).
Seriously, people, the KKK… This is shit our generation learned about in history class.
My hope now is that we start accepting discrimination as a real issue, and then trump it by fighting to maintain progress we HAVE made as a country. Our generation has an advantage in that we grew up learning equality is power and a moral right. We may not all be activists or advocates, but I believe many feel close enough to recent history to appreciate our opportunities, and also distant enough to view equality as normalcy.
For me, this election didn’t produce sore losers. It created a fear of social regression. Millennials – we are the future and America’s old people to come. We’re the first generation to walk paths paved by the Freedom Riders and Roe v. Wade. We grew up in integrated classrooms, are part of interracial families, and witnessed firsthand the passing of gay marriage and gender-neutral bathrooms.
We are the broth in the melting pot that is America, soaking in new spices and creating new stews. Let’s not drain the pot.
I leave us with this quote by African American journalist, Gwen Ifill, who passed away this week from cancer:
“We can’t expect the world to get better by itself. We have to create something we can leave for the next generation.”
Find your voice. Find your cause. And, get involved. If nothing else, be kind to one another.
(Images taken from Facebook and Twitter since November 9. Click to enlarge)