The Next America / by Nadia Fallahi

I’m heartbroken.  I’m sad.  I’m angry.  I want to smash things and scream until not one sound can leave my mouth.  I spent the whole night tossing and turning, feeling hurt and confused, constantly asking myself, “How did this happen? How did we let this happen?”

 

The only time I have felt this anxious and sick was when my best friend passed away in high school.  If you have ever felt this feeling, you know how terrible it is.

 

What happened, America?  We sat here and watched it all before our eyes.  We let a man who has not once held a single public office become president.  We let a man endorsed by the KKK become president.  We let a man who admitted to not paying taxes become president.  We let a man who condones “grab[bing women] by the p - - - -“ become president.  These are only a few of the terrible things for some introductory context.

 

I am worried about what will happen in the next four years in this country.  Regardless of your political stance, we have grown so much as a country in the last eight years, and we are back-tracking  Will I see increased hatred and bigotry grow to be the norm?  Will I have to pay extra attention to what I look like when I leave the house for my own safety as to not “ask for it?”  Will I have to suppress the pride I take in being Iranian-American with a Muslim immigrant father? Will I be forced to witness my many friends who identify as LGBT+ be stripped of every right they've gained?  Will I wake up everyday feeling defeated because I am told that I matter less because of my gender?  And what about our Latinx, Black and Muslim brothers and sisters? What will their futures look like?  Will they face deportation, endless bigotry and hate crimes?  Where will the line, if any, be drawn?  

 

I realize this is a lot. But it’s what runs through my mind now and what will take over the back of my mind for the next four years.  Sue me for caring.  Sue me for wanting things to be different.  Sue me for wanting America to be better than this.

 

The other night, I watched my favorite person in the whole world, Lady Gaga, speak in front of a crowd in Raleigh, NC.  I sat there sobbing — at least this time, in a good way.  I thought about my future, and whether I would have daughters.  I thought about my girlfriends.  My sorority sisters.  My co-workers. My mom.  How do you tell all of these incredible individuals how much you love them and want to support them when the new social “norm” says their worth is much smaller than they once thought?  I watched one of the most powerful women in the world rally and support another, and yet, was it not enough?  Messages about unity, peace, love — they just weren’t enough.

 

The anticipation of having to call my dad, who was home in Maryland fast asleep, when the results were called killed me most.   My dad, an immigrant from Iran, became an American citizen and was eligible to vote in the 2000 election.  However, he did not vote until 2008 — “the candidates never interested me until now,” I remember him telling me.  I remember begging my parents to take me and my brother with them to vote in 2008.  I went in the voting booth with my dad and watched him vote for President Barack Obama.  I felt hopeful and excited, and I know he did too.  I joked last night that I needed to call my dad to say goodbye -- fearing he might face deportation-- but in the back of my head, I wondered what would happen.  My heart is heavy.  My dad is one of the most important people in my life.  I confide in him on almost everything, and my relationship with him is one that I hope to have with my children one day.  As I’ve gotten older, I have come to understand the pain of seeing someone you love and care for so much be hurt.  My dad has accomplished incredible thing in his lifetime, he is one of the nicest, most genuine people you will ever meet, and he truly cares about his family.  Why must he and so many black and brown immigrants like him be told that their lives hold no value?

 

I fear calling my mom because I know what she will tell me, and I know it is nothing I will want to hear.  I know who she voted for, and I could not be more disappointed in her.  She taught me growing up that we needed to fight for what is right and be the voice for those without one.  She taught me about being a woman in a man’s world and how to change the status quo.  She taught me that in the end, we only have each other, and we need to live each day filled with kindness and acceptance.  Her vote, however, is a vote for the complete opposite.  I know that my mom believes in a more equal society -- or at least, I hope she does, yet factors like the economy were enough to sway her opinion and her vote.

 

I worry for my LGBT+ friends.  Some of the most important people in my life are apart of this community.  I remember calling one of my best friends when I was in Paris with tears streaming down my face, to congratulate him on marriage equality.  Will my LGBT+ friends lose everything their community has fought tirelessly for, not just in the last eight years, but far, far before?  Will one of the biggest communities advocating love and equality be squashed because of our country’s leaders false, radical religious beliefs?

 

It doesn’t just end there.  We need to help our Black and Latinx sisters and brothers.  There is no way to justify the words and actions that have been placed against these communities.  How do we just sit back as marginalized groups are being tormented and impacted by systemic racism?  I cannot say I know what their struggles must be like, but I can offer my endless support.  I can empathize with them.  I will hear their stories.  I will fight for them.

 

How am I supposed to face my Trump-supporting friends?  I wonder if they think less of me.  What notion does this set for our relationships?  How do I justify to myself that they are probably still "good" people if they voted for and supported someone who spews hate?  This is an internal struggle I will have to fight the next four years.

 

While the results of the election are straight-up shitty, we have to come together.  I worry what is going to happen with a red House, red Senate and red White House.  I worry that we will make no progress.  I worry we will be laughed at by every other nation.  I worry what will happen when I go to Thanksgiving dinner in a few weeks.  I worry people will feel defeated.  I worry people won’t want to fight back.  However, now more than ever, we need to do something.

 

We need to set a new tone for America.  A tone  that will no longer tolerate hate.  Only by coming together to tackle bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, etc., can we make a change.  This is more than emails.  This is more than “female issues.”

 

A lot is running through my mind.  I want to scream, cry, fight, and vomit all at the same time.  I watched my friends’ eyes fill with tears last night.  This is not the America we need.  This is not the America we deserve.  We should not be living in fear.  

 

If you weren’t feeling fired up this morning, I have no words for you.  Sitting back and not helping to make a better America will disrupt our nation even further.

 

I’ll just sum this all up with one of my favorite quotes — “If you have revolutionary potential, then you have a moral obligation to make the world a better place.”  I want to hug all of my friends, look them in the eye, tell them how much they matter and that we are going to fight to make sure we don’t lose everything we have fought for.