In high school, I never really fit in. I had friends, but I never truly felt like I belonged to a certain group. Even though I am African-American, I never fit in with the Black girls at school because I was told I wasn’t “Black enough,” and that I talked like a “valley girl.” This was the same reason I never fully felt accepted by the group of Latino students who hung out together, even though both of my grandparents on my father’s side were born and raised in Mexico, and my family takes pride in our culture and tradition. I had more male friends than female friends, but even seeming like “one of the guys” didn’t change the fact that I am a girl and would never fully relate to that group of friends either.
I felt a lack of identity. I felt alone in a space I knew was meant to cultivate growth. I felt separate.
On election day, I was transported back to the same feeling. The difference is that this time I can’t just escape from high school at the end of the day — this time, it’s the nation I live in.
As Donald Trump’s inauguration nears, I am beginning to feel the heaviness of my new reality like a ton of bricks. After the election results were announced a month ago I found myself curled up in a ball crying, realizing I represent a terrible trifecta — being Latina, Black and a woman in a nation that has been handed to someone who publicly spread racist and misogynist views, with several supporters like the radical alt-right group who now feel empowered to propagate their hateful and aggressive views.
Yes, I am American, but what does that really mean anymore? I am a Black, Latina woman. As 2017 approaches I no longer feel safe, secure or proud to call this country my home.
Racism has always been something I have been able to subtly hide from, especially in the California bubble I live in. However, in the height of the Trump campaign, and even more so after his election, I have become aware of how prevalent racism truly is in this country.
In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, Trump named Steve Bannon as his chief strategist, a man supported by the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists who detest multiculturalism and seek to create a stronger white nationalist presence. How can I feel safe as a black woman, when a group widely known for killing my people endorses our president-elect?
Sexism, however, is something I have been subject to for the majority of my life. It is a terrible force that has continuously crushed my soul and undermined my identity as a strong and independent woman.
I now prepare myself to live in a world where I experience the reality of both racism and sexism on a daily basis. I now live in a country where I struggle to understand how to feel supported as a multiracial female citizen, and where I try to understand the progression of regression over the past year that will affect me for years to come in this new presidency.
According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, we live in a nation where 1-in-6 women has been the victim of rape or attempted rape. RAINN reports college-age women are four times more likely to be victims of sexual assault, and it is difficult to improve those statistics when perpetrators aren’t held accountable.
A White male Stanford student essentially got away with sexual assault this year with no more than a slap on his hand. Black or Latino perpetrators would have been punished far more severely for the same crime. Trump’s statements about Mexican immigrants being rapists and criminals only enhances the inequity in our justice system. His accusation of Mexican men is ironic since RAINN reported that 57 percent of sexual abuse perpetrators are White, and 50 percent are 30 years old or older.
It is unlikely female students will feel protected under a Trump presidency. Our president-elect, who has been accused of sexual assault by several women, and is on record making comments glorifying sexual assault, is feeding the male-centric alt-right rhetoric. How can we feel safe as a women in this country with a leader who supports grabbing us by our private parts, but won’t support a woman’s right to make her own decisions when it comes to her body? How can we convince young women in our nation they are safe?
If this is now the nation we live in, how will we ever see the gender wage gap close? How will we see more African-American and Latina women in positions of leadership? How will we see more women as presidential candidates, and not just first ladies?
It is apparent, now more than ever, that the work of people like Martin Luther King Jr., Cesar Chavez, and Susan B. Anthony will never be done. It is our role as a succeeding generation to continue their work and to educate the following generations to do the same.
This may not feel like the land of the free to many people right now, myself included, but it is up to us to make sure it continues to be the home of the brave.