As a Canadian, I am baffled, disgusted, and terrified. This election was an opportunity to make history, to put a devastating crack in the glass ceiling, yet it was about so much more than man vs. woman. It was an opportunity for Americans to define themselves, to choose what country they wanted to be, what values to hold.
I’m scared for what Donald Trump’s presidency means for women in America. I’m scared for a woman’s right to choose, our right to feel safe walking down the street, our right to live free of harassment, to not be seen as a burden in the workplace, and our right to equal pay. I am scared that an increase in violence, tension, and gun sales could cross our shared borders and change the communities I belong to.
But I am not indigenous. It will not be assumed that I am an alcoholic, drug addict or stupid. I will not have corporations tear through sacred land that was promised to me centuries ago when my people were corralled by white men and our home was stolen.
I am not Hispanic. I will not be accused of being a rapist, criminal or illegal immigrant. I will not worry every day that my loved ones will be deported after dedicating decades to building a better life. I will not have people build a wall to keep me away from them.
I am not Muslim. I will not have to walk the line between hiding my beliefs and having my safety threatened when my religion is assumed. I will not be called a terrorist, held in airports, or have my belongings searched. People will not want me to register myself, abandon my belief system or leave my country. I will not have to discuss with my mother whether I should stop wearing my religious garb, out of fear for my safety.
I am not LGBTQ. People will not be afraid of me, or try to force me into a life of hiding who I am. When I am in public, I will use the nearest bathroom without being turned away, ridiculed and humiliated. People will treat me with respect, they will refer to me by the name I give them, and will allow me to dress however I like. I will be in love, get married and have children. My children will be legally mine. I will not adopt them, and people will not question whether or not I should be allowed to raise them.
I am not black. I will not be stopped by police just because I left my house. I will not be arrested for existing, shot at or have unarmed friends and family murdered in the streets. I will view the police as my protectors, not my attackers, and feel safe in their custody. I may be uncomfortable, but I will be cared for if I am in jail. People will not avoid me when I walk home at night. I will wear a hoodie whenever I want. People will not assume I am uneducated or be suspicious when I am articulate.
I am white. My privilege allows my fear to be separate from me. I am afraid in principle, recognizing that the actual, tangible impacts on me will be minimal, if at all. Today I will be shocked and sad. Then I will shake it off and work to see this as an opportunity for Americans to refocus on their core values and unite against hatred and fear. I will hope that this election scares some sense, compassion, and empathy into Americans. I will l see this as a terrible four years.
But I will remember that I can will myself to see this perspective only because of the safety that comes with my skin color, and I will not expect those without the same privilege to see the light so quickly.