On Election Day 2016 I had the privilege of working as a reporter for the Howard University News Service. My classmates and I were each responsible to produce at least one audio or video news package to be featured online. The stories were to be completed within a two-hour turnaround. I was assigned to cover a polling place at the crack of dawn in order to find out what motivated the voters to come out so early. The polls opened at 7 am and I was outside interviewing people at 6; people were eagerly ready to cast their ballots. As you can imagine, I could not have been more proud to be a journalist covering this special day in history; I was going to produce my own stories and watch history unfold before my eyes as the people of the United States elected their first female President.
Nearly all of the people I interviewed were Hillary Clinton supporters. We were all confident that Hillary Clinton would be our next president until that shocking night when the results were reported and the stark realization that our next President would not be “Madam President.”
I had never been so disappointed by a political outcome in my life. At the same time I was not surprised at all; a strange feeling indeed. I was not only disappointed for Hillary Clinton, but for the people of ethnic and religious backgrounds who had been publicly slandered for months by the President-Elect Trump. More importantly, I felt defeated; I am worried about what will happen to the rights to essential to women’s progress. I felt anger and sadness not only for myself as a proud minority women, but for every woman, ethnic, racial and religious minority who had been attacked by a Trump supporter or mocked on national television by Trump himself. I could not believe that after eight years of President Obama and Michelle, two leaders dedicated to women’s and racial equality, Americans would have to led by the very man who questioned the legitimacy of our current President’s birth certificate, which I believe along with so many other political pundits, was an issue plainly because he is African American. In a Nation which seemed a beacon of social progress and hope over the prior eight years, I, along with so many disheartened Americans are shocked that this happened in 2016. I thought we had enough millennials, diversity and inclusion to really be “stronger together.”
I believe this election showed the true colors of many Americans in this country. Those of us who live in multi-cultural cities believe that our neighborhoods are an accurate reflection of the rest of the country, we all saw that was not true as the states went red. I think what hurt most about producing these audio stories is that I had to listen to so many people’s hopes and dreams that were crushed.
As a first-generation American, descendent of immigrants, Black women, and whatever other minority you can describe me as, I find it incredibly heartbreaking to know that there are people in the world who hate me just because of the color skin. There are people who believe my parents should have never been able to come to this country. There are people who believe everything I worked for was given to me out of pity because I’m Black. I believe that anyone who voted for Trump either agrees with all of his racist and sexist views, or is complacent in his ideology. As an American, this is something I cannot support. Aside from the deeply hurtful wounds I feel over the now “socially acceptable overt racism” which Trump’s election has brought to the surface, it also scares me. I worry because some of these people are my co-workers who smile in my face but secretly wish I was not in this country. Donald Trump truly divided our nation. Racism has always covertly existed in this Nation, but now those who harbor those beliefs are once again freely able to express how they feel, and they have the have an implicitly legitimized platform because of the President-Elect.
I am so grateful to attend Howard University, a place where I am accepted for who I am and where I can be free to express my pride in my heritage. At Howard, I have a home where I surrounded by other like-minded people of color. I feel loved, accepted, and admired for my achievements regardless of my race and ethnicity. Had I not attended Howard, I am not sure how I would feel as a journalist during this divisive time in our Nation. However, because I have attended Howard, a University that seeks to build unity, strength and pride in people of color, I have acquired the tools to succeed in a world that now seems to doubt my ability to be successful, as well as the confidence to ignore the negative people who still harbor the believe that I am any less than equal to them.
While I personally cannot stand our President Elect and what he stands for on race, ethnicity and women’s rights, I do place blame of the role of the media which gave him the unnecessary attention needed for him to win this election. Trump is “ratings gold” and because of his outlandish remarks which undoubtably showcased him to be unqualified to run this great Nation, the media was fixated on him, publicizing every comment, tweet and outlandish act. Nearly every time one turned on the news, it was either a new story about Donald Trump or more news on the Clinton e-mail “scandal.” I believe many reporters thought they were showing us “how ridiculous” Donald Trump is, but really, they were fueling his supporters by constantly replaying his comments. Donald Trump did not have to spend money on advertising because the media did it for him. Every time he said “Black people are dangerous” or “they walk out of their houses and get shot,” a racist or plainly ignorant person’s opinions were bolstered as the media played this comments perpetually for months.
I believe the results of this election affect me as a woman of color more than as a journalist. The results of this election showed me that many Americans still hate me for reasons I cannot control. It is an unfortunate reality, but this election only motivates me to be a stronger, more self-motivated person. I cannot “win the vote” of racist or sexist people, but I can prove them wrong by getting an education and reaching goals that their small minds cannot fathom. Defying the odds and making a racist person upset with my success and grace will be the ultimate “revenge.”
So, while these Trump supporters continue to hate me and people of other backgrounds for no logical reason, I will continue to be the best that I can be; a leader not only for women of color, but for humanity. This was a tough loss, but my hope is that next time, the media will focus less on stories that generate profit, but on the actual facts, policies and issues. Without trust in our media to report fair, unbiased, and non-sensationalized stories, I fear that ignorance will “Trump” intelligence as the election of 2016 demonstrated.