Popping The Brown Bubble: The 2016 Election

Published: November 17, 2016

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It was as if someone had died.

The usually fast-paced and somewhat panic ridden mood that characterizes the Brown students during the midweek madness in Wednesdays had been replaced with an impending sense of hopelessness defeat. The entire campus felt like a dispersed funeral processions: not a single smile, everyone dressed in black, hordes of people embracing each other while openly shedding tears. Brown prides itself on the very active student body who burn for their passions. The 2016 election made the possibility of finally shattering the glass ceiling seem within reach, was a cause many of the students had burned and fought passionately for, for nearly two years, but overnight all that hope was extinguished. The election was a rude awakening from our liberal sphere that we have established and protected and it served as a rude awakening to what different the rest of America is from us.

But almost more prominent than the hopelessness was the uncertainty. “What was going to happen now?” was the question that seemed to be on everyone’s mind. What does Trumps election mean for our Muslim friends, our undocumented friends, our LGBTQ friends, our friends who fight for the Black Lives Matter movement every single day? Will all that progress come to an end? One of my professors said he had not seen the campus like this since the day after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre. I was supposed to have an exam the Wednesday after the election as well as on the Thursday… Both were postponed…

Grappling with the outcome of the 2016 election as an international student turned out to be more emotionally taxing than I ever expected. Although I am not an expert on American politics and although I have not been following the election particularly closely I, along with most of my peers, were convinced Clinton would win. But as the votes of the electoral colleges came in and the maps on CNN’s screen was flooded with an alarming red colour, I felt an increasing sense of discomfort. How could we all have been so wrong? I found myself feeling like I was not allowed to be upset about: I am not from this country, I am not part of the most marginalised minorities… and I don’t even care that much about politics and I did nothing to prevent this (it usually just works out right…?). It was not that the idea of staying in the US after graduation now seems bleak that brought me down, but seeing the devastation on the faces on some of my most inspiring friends who grew up idolising Hillary Clinton and her relentless battles in the government that really got to me. Although Trump’s politics may have adverse consequences on the entire world, it’s ultimately the the empathy towards the minority groups who stand the most to loose as a result of Trump’s social policies and poisonous rhetoric is what terrifies me. Although I have the option to leave and return back home, many of my friends don’t.

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