What Really Trumped

It was not a morning I wanted to wake up to. I was afraid of confirmation of what seemed inevitable when I switched off the TV last night. And it was true, it really did happen. Trump won. Donald Trump is the new president of the United States of America. But, nothing felt united, it didn’t feel like America and the only state I found myself was in shock and sadness.I’ve never been into politics. It’s a bit too complex for my simple mind. I’m not sad because Republicans won. I would not have cared if it was another candidate but Trump’s victory makes you question many, many dark realities about the human mind and soul. It shows the power of fear. He tapped into the lowest common denominator of human emotions: FEAR. He ignited those hidden, unspoken fears by dividing, discriminating, and demonizing the basic core value of togetherness. He gave those deep, dark fears a voice. A loud, rude and unfiltered voice. He made it fashionable, cool and impressive to be hateful. Hateful towards everything that is different and not one of us. I wouldn’t have been this sad if he had won this election without raping America of its most beautiful trait: inclusiveness and equality.

This wave has been happening all over the world. BrExit and India are perfect examples. These are calls against globalization, against diversity, against inclusion. These are testaments to societies and nations saying , “We are done with being inclusive, respectful and open. We want to see more of us and less of the “other”. The “other” is no longer seen as a welcome addition to our salad bowl that will add color, flavor and richness. Instead, this “other” is taking over our dining table. It must be limited, isolated and if possible, removed”.  Follow this thought with a loud chant of ” Let’s Make America Great Again”

When I’m disillusioned or upset, I find it very useful to view the situation from the other side’s point of view. It helps me understand the flaws and misconceptions in my thought process. It allows me to empathize. So, let’s move beyond our shock, grief and judgement. Let’s move beyond our comfort zone and really think and introspect. What responsibility can we take for where we stand today, for the fears in people  that Trump vocalized. It’s never enough to just blame and be disgruntled with the system if you are going to do nothing about it. Everyone is saying, this is the real America: it’s racist, sexist and hateful. I ask you then, how did America change so dramatically in 8 years. When Obama won, I didn’t hear as many people say, ” This is the real America: inclusive, fair and welcoming”.

Why is the majority seeming exhausted with diversity and inclusiveness? It wasn’t this disgusted with it 8 years ago.  There is a divisive voice within all of us. As immigrants, we are very familiar with that. We want to think of people in not just terms of race or religion but also further break it down into ethnic regions, North/South, Punjabi or Urdu speaking, Shia/Sunni, the categories keep expanding. We don’t want to live in neighborhoods where there are too many “desis”. So, does it really shock you that neither do John or Mike want to live in neighborhoods where women are wearing hijabs, aunties are shopping in saris, Uncles are wearing  lungis, and others have their national and religious identities written all over them. But, it’s ok when we feel that or say it but it’s racist and wrong if John or Mike express the same valid concern. Maybe we need to rethink our own double standards and hypocrisy. Maybe we need to think about how entitled we feel living in this country and maybe we need to realize how the minorities in our birth countries must feel when they are made to be feel unwanted and unsafe. We have such high expectations of America but such low expectations of ourselves.

It is in America that most of us immigrants heard and understood the word, “diversity” and “equality” for the first time. Let’s find ways to add to the diversity without overstepping boundaries, without feeling so entitled and without trying to establish how “different ” we are. In the last 8 years, we also saw a rise in nationalism, and religiosity in immigrants like never before. Everyone has their religion and country written literally all over them. We stopped trying to fit in. Instead, we wanted to stand out. We made the warm, loving host uncomfortable, fearful, bitter  and threatened. And along came Trump to tap into those emotions.

Let’s ease those fears. Let’s Make America Great Again by being Stronger Together…..