I get very little sunlight in my room. Before, it was something I counted on to wake me up, a warm welcoming to the day. Now, a pair of pigeons, which hang out on my windowsill, are my alarm clock. Every morning, they bang against the windows. It’s aggravating, yet familiar in a way: It’s part of my routine.
After I’m awake, but still in bed, I pull up my Twitter timeline on my phone. When I’m satisfied, I pull up my Facebook timeline. Usually, I see something funny, and that laughter gets me out of bed.
That didn’t happen this morning. Donald Trump is going to be the President of the United States.
Last night felt like a dream, or a joke, or a reality TV show. We thought it’d be a landslide in Hillary Clinton’s favor, working with the supposition that America isn’t sexist or racist, that the freewheeling Donald Trump wouldn’t become the president-elect, that love would trump hate. What we didn’t count on were closeted Trump supporters, the radicalization of white men and the fact that white women love Trump.
America wasn’t ready for a woman to succeed a black man as president. Writer Jill Filipovic was spot-on when she tweeted, “Eight years of black president followed by a female president was too much of a threat to white male authority.”
America was ready to get back to its roots, and Trump stands for everything this country was founded on. The fearful white voting bloc saw him as their savior, protecting them from the poor, from black and brown people, from the LGBTQIA+ community, from women, Mexicans, Muslims, and immigrants.
Trump wants to build a wall around his Eurocentric, heteronormative ideals. He wants to keep Muslims, Mexicans, and immigrants out. He wants to govern women’s bodies. He is beloved by the KKK and doesn’t believe in marriage equality. He is everything Obama isn’t: Trump is White America’s Obama.
My timelines were invaded by panic, a type of fear that is palpable, even through a screen. I started sobbing for the safety of my friends and family, for my brothers and sisters—for the America we really live in. I thought about how, last night, friends were comparing the election to the World Series: HRC was attempting to overcome a 3-1 lead; like the Cubs, she had a fighting chance, or so we thought.
This morning, when I saw light peeking in from underneath my bedroom door, I was relieved. ‘Screw the birds, I need some sun,’ I thought. I cracked open my door and the beams of light flooded my room. It was reaffirming—some cliché about it being a new day popped into my head—but it didn’t exactly quell my fears.
I knew the only other thing that could comfort me was my mother’s voice. My mother is a beacon of strength, an immigrant who has been in America for over thirty years and who raised my brother and me as a single parent. She was once a lawyer in India, but lost that career when she moved to America; in order to support our family, she willingly started over and went back to law school when I was 12-years-old.
When I called her crying, she too was still devastated. But, like any good mother, she picked me up. She told me that I’m on the right path, and stressed that the best way to support, love and care for my brothers and sisters is by remaining strong. She told me to capitalize on the fear and use it as fuel.
Indians are one of the few groups that Trump hasn’t targeted, but I know it’s only a matter of time until he does. When I had calmed down, I realized that my mother is a person whom Trump has marked, not yet for being Indian, but for being an immigrant and a woman. And for years, in the face of Americans just as racist, sexist and prejudiced as Trump, she flourished and created her own American dream. She didn’t let people like him stop her.
My mother is a reminder that I am blessed. Though I woke up with no joy this morning, demoralized and fearful, she showed me that the sun is still shining—that there's still light.
By Tara Mahadevan. Follow her on Twitter.
Photo Credit: Conrad Crispin