Donald Trump is the president-elect. As it stands, a majority of the citizens did not vote for our future president, and many people are upset about that. On the other hand, through our election process, Trump won the presidency fairly, and many people are OK with that.
No matter who you voted for, what color your skin is, what gender you are or who you choose to love, hate is not the answer. Hate will only function to further the partisan divide that continues to plague our politics.
Last Wednesday, Natasha Nkhama, a fellow Baylor student, posted a video on Facebook. In it, she said she was called the N-word and forced off the sidewalk by a man who claimed he was trying to make “America great again.” Rather than reacting with hate, hundreds of Baylor students, staff and faculty walked in solidarity with Nkhama – redirecting the narrative of the incident into one of love rather than focusing on the hate.
Though the walk wasn’t a political gathering, there were certainly people in attendance who voted for Hillary Clinton and others who voted for Trump. Likewise, there were Trump supporters who attended the protest at Fountain Mall on Thursday, which was intended to support anyone who felt they were fearful or alienated by the election. People set aside their differences to show kindness, and that’s how it should be.
Meanwhile, many protests around the nation are geared toward refusing to accept Trump as president; the chant “we reject the president-elect” can be heard in videos of the protests and the “#notmypresident” hashtag has been trending on Twitter. But that’s not the only point of some of these gatherings. Similar to the protest at Fountain Mall, people are taking to the streets to march in solidarity with people who may feel like they are alienated due to the outcome of the elections.
Here’s the catch — violence undermines the root cause of these protests. Videos have surfaced of protesters damaging cars and smashing store windows. Originally based on frustration toward the alienation of individuals, the message of these protests becomes muddled when acts of violence break out. Like the solidarity walk with Nkhama, which has now made national headlines, these protests can turn what was once ugly into a system of support for those who feel oppressed. Like the struggles of the Sioux Standing Rock Tribe to keep sacred burial grounds safe and their water clean, remaining steadfast despite the difficulties can garner international attention and sympathy.
For those pleased by the results of the election, ask yourself if you are helping foster a sense of security for minority groups such as immigrants, people of color and the LGBTQ community. Look past the differences that divide us on a daily basis, and separate the politics from the person. Choosing to respect your friend who voted for Trump, even if you didn’t, or sympathizing with those dismayed by Clinton’s loss, even if you voted for Trump, helps peel back those partisan layers and reveals that we’re all alive and trying our best. You don’t have to drop your moral values, but you can’t expect other people to live up to those same values. It’s an outward message that you don’t tolerate hatred of other people’s differences — even when it’s hard.
We try to align ourselves on issues as if they are so clear-cut — as if they are black and white. But it’s in the gray areas between the black and white that we truly learn the most about others and, subsequently, ourselves. Life is gray and getting grayer, and we are all people trying to figure this life thing out. While we spend most of our time focusing on the answers — Who is the best candidate for president? What should I major in? What am I going to do with my future? — it’s the getting there that matters. It’s best if we can be loving along the way, like taking a walk with an isolated friend or sitting in solidarity with the oppressed.