My First November 8th

by Michele Dale

I cannot close my eyes and pretend it didn’t happen. I cannot fill the hole many are feeling right now. I cannot say anything that hasn’t been said already in a more eloquent fashion, but I also cannot say nothing. All I can do is try to make sense of my thoughts and express how I, as a 19-year-old girl, have experienced the past 48 hours.

Today was a day of hugs.

As I ran into people throughout the day our normal pleasantries were tainted. We began with a tight hug rather than a how are you. We exhaled together, trying to let go of some of the weight we had been carrying all day. We yelled and commiserated and cried.

In some ways, Hillary Clinton’s loss has seemed like the loss of a loved one. It’s the death of an America that we wanted to be a part of. One where we’re stronger together. One where women’s rights, LGBTQIA rights, and immigrant rights are human rights. One where black lives matter. Her loss is a harsh reminder to millennials that good does not always win. It is a reminder to this country that our divisions are real and have no easy fix.

Yesterday, I was filled with pride. As I saw so many of my friends, women ages 18-21, post about voting for the first time for the first female president, I was overcome with joy. I had realized how much her candidacy meant for us a long time ago, but the sense of community I found yesterday was indescribable. Talking to my mom and aunt about the prospect of her presidency was moving; they had waited for this for so long and now had good reason to believe that it was the day we would finally have a woman president. And not just “a” woman president – a competent, qualified, gracious woman president. We were excited and hopeful and seemed to turn to one another thinking: this is happening!!

Today that joy is gone, but the community certainly is not. I have felt so connected to every person, male or female, black or white, who I know supported Hillary. We are visibly upset but we are also resilient. We have a new sense of purpose and are gearing up for what a Trump presidency could mean for many of us. My black, Latina, LGBTQIA, Muslim, Jewish, immigrant, refugee, and female friends I am with you. My heart breaks for all marginalized communities who are afraid for what’s to come but I promise we will stand with you.

Last night I felt disheartened and demoralized. My mom called me and told me to keep my head up, to continue fighting and continue to prove everyone wrong. She had experienced disappointment before and knew there was nothing to do but keep going. My dad told me he admired my passion and was proud of how much I cared. To care about this election and to care about this country is to be brave – we cannot afford to be apathetic.

This morning, Hillary conceded. In a heart-wrenching speech she maintained optimism at a time when pessimism is all too easy. She stressed unity when division seems inevitable. However, what struck me most was her reminder to, “never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It’s always worth it. And we need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives.”

It’s always worth it. Thank you, Hillary, for inspiring me and so many other young women. We promise to work hard to fulfill the dream we share for our country. It will not end with you. These next four years are not going to be easy but women weren’t made for easy. This country wasn’t meant for easy. Let us remember kindness and preach acceptance and never forget that love trumps hate. 

Michele DaleMichele Dale