What A Trump Win Feels Like to an American Woman in Peru

The first thing I said today, to anyone, was “don’t talk to me, not about that, not right now.” That was the very first thing that came out of my mouth.
The result of the 2016 US Presidential election had a shocking effect on me. I went to bed peacefully, truly believing that when I woke, my country would have proudly elected the First Female President of the United States. I was sorely, sorely mistaken. My morning routine was corrupted. Instead of my morning yoga and tea, I laid in bed before softly sobbing in the shower. I knew I would be upset. I had no idea I would sob in the shower.
The walk to class felt different. It is not unusual as an American in Peru to get those “you don’t belong” stares walking down the street. But they were different this morning, everyone knew. It is not a secret that many other countries think we were foolish to elect Trump as our Republican candidate. But you should know that they no longer think we’re foolish. They think we’re inane. They may have believed that we weren’t actually so stupid as to allow him into power. They may have had hope. That hope is gone. They think we are ridiculous, bigoted and idiotic. They think we are all him.
I walked into a room with five other girls, where we all sat in silence, crying. A room full of girls with no words, simply crying. You would have thought that a bomb went off. That’s all that crossed my mind, is that this is how people should react to tragedy, not an election. I was too young to remember exactly how 9/11 affected America. But I remember Sandy Hook, I remember Aurora, and I remember the Boston Marathon bombing. These are events that should lead to a room full of people crying. An election should not.
Trump says he wants to make America great again. A part of that, he says, is to make America safe again. But how can it be safe now? What Donald Trump does not understand is that he is what we afraid of. I am white. I am privileged because I am white. But I am a woman. And as a woman I have only one thing to fear. Men who abuse their own privilege. Men who believe they can have what they want simply because they are men. Men like Trump. If he truly did want to make America safe again, something I strongly believe he does not care a lick about, his only course of action at this time would be to resign immediately.
I don’t think Trump cares about us at all. I don’t think he cares about any of us, even those who are just like him. He only cares about himself. I also think Hilary only cares about herself. But let’s make something clear, I didn’t want this for Hilary. I wanted this for us. For women. For me, and for every little girl that ever wanted to be president and then though “nah, nevermind” because it didn’t seem plausible. The words that her supporters’ used, “I’m with her,” largely were not in reference to Hilary, but a larger “her.” The “her” in all of us that still wants a chance to be heard. The “her” that has been belittled for years, just waiting for her chance. That her is me. It is my sister, my mother, my future niece, and the daughter I would love to raise someday. Even though Hilary was not successful, I am still with “her.” I will always be with “her.”
I don’t know what, if anything, Hilary would have done in office. But I know what all the women after her COULD do. It sure isn’t that we won’t have our First Female President, but I think we will have to work a lot harder to get there. We have a lot more to come back from than we did yesterday.
This morning, I strongly considered not returning to the United States. I’ll admit I was one of those “if Trump wins I’m leaving the country” people, in a joking way, in the beginning. It wasn’t until this morning that the thought became very, very real to me. I am already here in Peru, I am settled, I have a small source of income. Every possible way to stay became real. I didn’t want to go back. I quickly realized though that this would not be the answer. How many times have people told you not to run away from your problems? What would that solve? I have a somewhat random memory of my fifth grade teacher telling me, a small, scrawny 11-year-old, during a game of tag to “run right at them” in reference to the “it.” Okay, that was bad advice. But in the metaphorical sense, she could not have been more correct. All we can do right now is repeatedly tell Trump and America why we don’t want this, why we can’t have this, and why we won’t stand for this. We can be louder than him, if we refuse to stay silent.
We do not have to accept this. This is not the last word. If America, and this world, will ever be what I truly hope and believe we can be, we will have the last word. I will not ever call Donald Trump my President, because my President should be somebody who represents what we are. We are not ridiculous, bigoted and idiotic. We are not Donald Trump. We are black, white, Asian, Latino, gay, straight, men AND women and everything else. We are whatever we choose to be. Please don’t choose Trump, America. He may have won this election, but he has not won us. We are bigger.