I had pledged to write more throughout the month of November, and I’ve been keeping to these goals a little half-heartedly. I was finishing up the blog posts I had written about my trip to Hangzhou and Nanjing when the US Election took place. And then I went into this strange feeling of radio silence, where I didn’t know how to react, what to write in public, what to read to help me make sense of what happened. While this blog is supposed to document my life here in China, I’m sharing a bit of what I wrote in my diary just after the election to help me sort out some thoughts.
Well, the results of the presidential election were strange and unexpected. I woke up Wednesday morning feeling filled with this sense of excitement and confidence that by the afternoon, I would be celebrating the historic election of the first female US president. Instead, over the course of the day, I was filled with a sense of confusion and anxiety about the presidency and the direction of the country.
I know that I live in a liberal bubble, and it has meant that most of the media I see is heavily left leaning. Watching the results play out in real time was bizarre. I’m half a world away, thirteen hours ahead, and separated from the home that is immediately impacted by the choice of this candidate. Instead, I’m in a country where democracy is a foreign practice, and it makes me feel a weird sense of disconnect from reality back in the US.
Here are some things about Trump: he’s been a proud homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, misogynist, sexual predator, etc. etc. etc. Honestly – the list goes on. It’s disappointing that someone with such a history has been elected to office. I’m frustrated because his proposed policies are personally insulting to me and to many of my friends – he wants to reverse laws that provide me with bodily autonomy as a woman, he wants to advocate for discriminatory immigration policies, he wants to reverse laws that have provided increased equality for LGBTQIA+ people.
After the election was called, I posted to Facebook – “In Quaker Tradition: Let’s have a moment of silence & hold each other in the light.” I don’t really think that I’m at a place of positivity yet – in fact, I think that I’ll be in a place of extreme negativity, frustration, and confusion for the coming days & weeks & months. But, I also want to find ways to make sense of this and to better understand what I can do moving forward. So I’m trying to find ways to be proactive and productive and supportive in the ways that I can.
I’m wondering what I want to do in the future. Many of my close friends here are studying International Relations and interested in pursuing politics in the future. This election has made people doubt this – people who are competent, wonderful individuals, no longer wish to be involved in a system that has brought Trump to power. While I don’t see myself going into politics, I feel like this election has made me consider spending more time outside of the US. Living outside of the country at a time like this is a luxury, I know, but at the moment it feels impossibly difficult to go back to a home that no longer feels as safe and loving as it once did.
Besides this, I’m wondering how I can stand in solidarity with the communities that I was involved with back in Philadelphia. The BPSOS Office in Philly, a non-profit organization that serves Southeast Asian refugee and immigrant communities in the Delaware Valley area, was vandalized days after the election with Pro-Trump messages spray-painted on the walls. This is a group that I’ve volunteered with, where friends have worked as community-organizers, where other friends participated in programming during their high-school years. This brings the election close to home: places that were sanctuaries for friends are being put at risk, and people that look a certain way are being made into targets. Being so far away is difficult – I want to be close to home where I can be more physically present. Instead, I’ll be making a donation to BPSOS, and looking for other organizations that I can help support.
I am disappointed by the outcome of this election, but I have to admit that it puts something into context for me… you can be a qualified female politician with a lifetime of experience, running against a circus clown with as number of racist, sexist, etc. comments behind him – but you still won’t come out ahead. I feel like this brought out a lot of ugliness in a country that I love, although I can have a complicated relationship with patriotism at times. With all that said: I aspire to be a nasty woman – I want to be someone who is powerful and driven. I don’t want to let set-backs stop me, or let the nastiness of this election cycle prevent me from making positive changes where I can.
This is the first big disappointment I have felt politically – I’m a regular voter in local elections, and think that it’s important to continue to exercise the right to vote outside of the presidential election cycle. I know that local elections do so much to shape my day-to-day experience back at home, and that regular political participation is valuable. For that reason, I’m going to try and stay abreast of developments in my city, and make sure that I continue to cast my ballot even while I’m an absentee voter.
I know that I don’t have that much novel insight to offer about this whole political process, so I appreciate you sticking with me through this. Like most things on this blog, I think that I use the writing process as an opportunity to sort through my own thoughts on different experiences and issues. Though this is technically a public website, I doubt that readership ever extends beyond a few family members and friends, so I’m glad for the chance to share some of these thoughts with you.
Though the election & the time following the election has kept me mentally preoccupied, I’ve also been doing a little bit of journaling about the travels I’ve done around China over the month. I’m going to get back to posting some of the things I’ve queued up – covering a short vacation to Hangzhou and Nanjing, as well as a week long field-site visit that I took to Xi’an with the rest of my program.
In short, back to regularly scheduled writing soon.