election 2016

10 Women of Color on Their Fear of a Donald Trump Presidency

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The Cut asked for reflections from women of color after this week’s election results, and we received an overwhelming response. Women told us they feel lost, hurt, and scared: from the fate of their families, to health-care access, to their own personal safety, they gave us brutally honest replies. Despite the anxiety, there was a willingness to fight and share their stories. Read on and share your own in the comments.

Stephanie, 21, Ohio

I come from a conservative family. My parents were born and raised in Lebanon during the civil wars, and they came to America in 1993, like many immigrants, to provide a better chance at life for their children. This election has brainwashed my parents to believe a deceiving man and his version of democracy. They don’t view it this way, but I do. I voted for Clinton in this election, and the tension between me and my parents has been at an all-time high. But how could they vote for Trump? His beliefs stretch as far as hating the type of people that my parents are. I hate what this election has done to them. I hate what it has done to my family and to me. I don’t want to regret that which my parents have granted me: a chance at living in a society of freedom and democracy, in a place of diversity and acceptance. But I fear that I have.

Cecilia, 37, New York

I come from a tiny family of mostly retired single black women (widowed or that have always been single parents by choice) that all reside in the Northeast, and are financially secure. It was all a foregone conclusion that I would go to college. I’ve never been told I was worthless to my face — as my parents and grandparents who were born in this country obviously have — until today. I feel young, stupid, and naïve for underestimating the potential for misogyny to be anywhere near as damaging as racism. I saw the light at the end of the tunnel and it has just been blasted shut.

I’m afraid of fashion houses downsizing and outsourcing more of their [expensive] design work going forward. Being a black woman will only compound any difficulties I may have maintaining a foothold in an industry that is notoriously hostile to outsiders of any kind. My only plans this week are to go to Walgreens and buy up all of the Plan B.

Liz, 24, New York

My mom is from Colombia and a U.S. citizen, but my dad is an illegal immigrant from Mexico. I’ve petitioned for him to become a U.S. citizen for over four years now with no luck at all. He was waiting on immigration reform to pass in order to help his case, but I have little hope now. It hurts because I know my dad is a hard worker who paid his taxes for all 20 years that he’s been living in the U.S. He speaks English well and has a life here. My dad’s mother is really sick in Mexico and he was so desperately hoping to go home and see her. I don’t think he will be able to.

My friend told me this morning she overheard a white man walk by a day laborer at the local gas station where they stand and wait for work in the mornings. The man said in an upbeat voice, “Hey, buddy, what’s got you down today?” before laughing and walking away.

El, 26, New York

My parents are immigrants from Mexico. They are now naturalized, but they come from very, very, very poor towns in Mexico. They came here and my dad worked his way up from being a busboy at a pizzeria to owning four of them. My mom is awesome and is a certified nurse assistant and I’ve been very lucky to be able to go to great schools. I got scholarships in high school and college and full rides to incredible institutions. I’ve been very lucky and it’s the most debasing feeling to feel that despite the work that I’ve put in and my family has put in and despite all of the accomplishments that my parents have done — there’s still no recourse. There’s still someone who can be elected to this position.

I’ve been fighting battles most of my life: being the poor kid at a rich school or being the only Latina in the room, or the only nonwhite, or the only one from the Bronx, or the only one who’s parents didn’t get past middle school. It’s always been a battle. I want to galvanize. I’m usually very positive and action-oriented, but at a certain point, I’m just exhausted. I’m tired of fighting a battle on every front. I think that’s the scariest part. It’s like, “When do I get a chance to rest and when can I hand the baton over?” I don’t want it back. Take that shit.

JiYoung, 31, Seattle

I am acutely afraid. Not for me or my family — I’m a natural-born U.S. citizen in a liberal city. I think people consider Asians to be harmless minorities. What I am really afraid of is the possibility that oppression will occur against other groups and I will have to speak up. I am afraid of what might happen when I speak up. I’m not a brave person and this new reality will have to force me to get over my chicken-shit cowardice.

I feel indicted for being poor, yellow, and female by white people in general and white evangelicals in particular. My current church is multi-ethnic and has several women pastors, but I grew up in the white evangelical church, so this rejection is reopening old wounds. I always felt like I didn’t quite belong with them and this election has confirmed that I’m an other.

Hawa, 28, New York

As a black person, as a Muslim, as a woman, as a daughter of Somali parents, I can’t begin to describe how paralyzed I feel for the future of my family, friends, and my country. I just messaged my younger brother to see how he was doing (it was his first time voting in a presidential election), and he said: “I’m scared, to be honest. And confused that this actually happened. These voters are scarier than Trump.” I share his feelings.

For the first time in my life, I am sincerely scared of white people. I fear traveling in red states, even for vacation. This is a demographic that historically and presently commits violent discriminatory acts against those that are different from them. I don’t know how to act now when in their presence (even at work) … I worry my anger and fear will hinder my relationships with them, even those who share the same beliefs. I recognize how hypocritical and unfair this may appear and is something I must combat and will actively do so, but I don’t find my sentiments irrational, either, considering the current political climate. No matter their political affiliation, they will be fine. But others and myself cannot afford to wait four years for things to shift to the left.

Jasmine, 40, Chicago

I am a college-educated Asian white-collar worker living in Chicago, a blue city in a blue state. For those reasons, I don’t feel immediately fearful, and for that I am profoundly grateful. Especially since Illinois is sending Tammy Duckworth to the Senate. But I have a lot of loved ones that are afraid of what the future may bring, and despite what little privilege I have I feel powerless to be able to help them.

When it comes to action, I think I’ve already begun. Working as an election judge was an eye-opening and empowering experience for me. I would encourage more citizens to do it, if only to see what politics looks like at the very local level, and understand the importance of civic engagement all the time, not just during campaign season. At the moment, I’m gonna get back to my job, continue to make (possibly inappropriate) jokes with my brother because humor is how I cope when I’m not stress-eating, and send notes to my precinct captain, alderman, mayor (yes, it’s Rahm Emanuel, but better or worse he’s what I’ve got to work with), state representatives, congressmen, Senator-elect Tammy Motherfuckin’ Duckworth, and Senator Dick Durbin to thank them for the service and ask one very important question: What’s next?

Neha, 26, New York

As an immigrant, I feel homeless. I’m sure some people might find that dramatic. But as someone who was raised in this country (I moved here when I was 1), I would always be so proud of America in front of my family in India. I really believe in democracy and thought America was this beacon of hope and light and freedom. Today it feels like I’ve been living a sham. I’d be scared to visit most places outside of New York or California. It’s been shocking seeing how many people I went to high school with or friends-of-friends who supported Trump and basically don’t support me or my choices as a person at all. But I also don’t feel like I could go back to India and ever feel connected because America is my home. So, to sum up, I just feel lost. What makes it worse is I’m dating a Pakistani Muslim man (who was born and raised here). We are trying to unite our families despite deep cultural and religious problems in our home countries, and keep reassuring our parents that one day our kids will be fine in America and accepted as Indian-Pakistani-Muslim-Hindus, but I just now realized that they may have it just as hard here (if not much worse) as they would’ve there. I feel naïve.

Diana, 34, New York

I’ve watched as a select few Asian-Americans on my feed rejoice in a Trump victory. To them, it means more money in their pockets without a thought to the consequences it has on all people of color. They’re quick to claim it won’t affect them because it doesn’t affect their own ethnicity. But as we’ve seen this year with the Fox News Chinatown segment and the Michael Luo “Go back to China” incident, racism is insidious. It’s a subtle feeling that you never truly belong here. You’re a stereotype, trotted out to show that the American Dream is within reach — but only if you’re an obedient Asian American who doesn’t cause too much trouble.

Today I’m going to cry and protest. Tomorrow I’m donating my time and money to the next generation. I want them to speak out, empathize, and stand up for the progress we desperately need.

Chrystina, 34, Los Angeles

Self-care is a luxury that I’m not sure as a black woman in America I have. I try to not be callous and hardened but after all of the police shootings and constant punches in the gut to people of color and women in this country, on days like this you feel helpless. I am spending my day researching the ACLU and making sure that the high-school student that I mentor understands that she can still go to college regardless of Trump’s opinions on immigrants’ (and children/grandchildren of immigrants) access to higher education. I’m also checking on loved ones, including my 85-year-old grandmother who has been on such a high post-Obama, and now — well, you can imagine. In fact, just received a text from my sister-in-law who lives in France asking if she could FaceTime with my son to “cheer her up from afar.” Tomorrow is a new day.

10 Women of Color on Their Fear of a Donald Trump Presidency