Three days after the election, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are still dominated by post-election chatter.
A well-written, insightful piece by college student Cassie Hewlett has popped up numerous times on my feed, shared by numerous friends who were Trump voters. Cassie states it perfectly:
With the results of the presidential election stirring up a vast amount of emotions, I think it is important to clarify something: just because I am Republican does not mean I am heartless.
She is right. I was heartbroken when a student of mine came to class feeling like she could not express her happiness with the election results in classrooms because academia is – let’s face it – dominated by liberals. And claims like “Trump voters are racist, sexist, homophobic” caused her to naturally become defensive, because she is not any of these.
Harsh rhetoric automatically shuts down any chance of conversation. It makes one automatically defensive.
Ironically, the frustration expressed by many Trump voters of being labeled “racist” comes from the same emotional place as the anxiety expressed by those disappointed in the election results. So many of my minority (racially, religiously and sexuality) friends are posting messages of genuine fear and a sense that they don’t belong in America. These feelings stem from the harsh rhetoric Trump has used at one point in the campaign, for instance saying most Mexican immigrants are “rapists and murderers” or calling for a complete ban on Muslims.
Again, harsh rhetoric automatically shuts down any chance of conversation. It makes one automatically defensive.
For us to truly come together, those of us who dislike Trump need to stop applying blanket labels to his voters. And Trump voters need to understand that many minorities are scared, not because their candidate lost, but because of a genuine fear that has been instituted by the past rhetoric of our President-elect.
Please, tell someone who is genuinely afraid that you respect them, support them, love them and that you will be there for them.