Fear of the Unknown

I know there are those who doubt that racism is still such a big problem, but if you ask me, it’s only middle-aged people who think that, those who think the world has automatically become better simply because they’re old enough to shape it now, but without any of them having made the slightest contribution to improving it.

Bivald, Katarina (2016-01-19). The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend (p. 25). Sourcebooks. Kindle Edition.

Racism is very much still a big problem and this presidential election as well as other events in recent weeks (Standing Rock for one), have really brought to light how divided we are as a country. The one thing that lacks most from people with privilege is empathy. It is very difficult to be empathetic when you have no personal experiences to draw from and for that I do forgive people. However, I was raised in Christianity and I believe that everybody is deserving of empathy and kindness. I do not feel like that is what is permeating through the world right now.

Fortunately, there are places that are “safer” than others. There are places that we know we feel safe in, and there are places where we need to test the waters so to speak. Trump actually did say that parts of the Mexico-United States border could be fenced. Now, while this is much less serious than a wall, it is still a clear sign that we want “those people” out. I do not agree with this, America was founded as a haven for the oppressed, and although the Native Americans were oppressed in the process of claiming new land, Africans were bought and sold, and transported across waters as slaves, if the conservative people (and forgive the generalization that is about to come) are going to say that they want to “make America great again,” and restore America to its original values, then I think taking any action to divide America and Mexico is against that.

Additionally, I would like to think that we as people have come further than we were when this country was founded in 1776. I do not believe that, and as more years go by, the less excited I get about the Fourth of July and the more excited I get about Veteran’s day. I would rather spend my time celebrating my country by honoring the men and women who continue every single day to stand up for what America truly is, than to honor a bunch of dead people who signed a Constitution that we cannot agree how to uphold. I believe that everybody is entitled to their constitutional rights, but look how long it took for some people to even be recognized for that. I never want to be counted as a fraction of a person, but that is something my ancestor’s had to deal with. It is something that I feel when I interact with certain people and I have to remind myself that what they think does not define me.

When Jessica and I taught our GRE course over the summer, we began each day with positive affirmations for the students. One of these was, “my status as a minority is only part of who I am.” I wish I believed that statement as much today as I did then. I am truly sorry to say that no matter how many times I try to convince myself that I believe that, I just cannot. Everyday I wake up, I see something else that breaks my heart targeted at a minority or a group of minorities. We are called minorities for a reason, but together we are so strong and we need to hold on to that. However, together we are nothing if the majority will not pay any attention to us. I am so thankful for the good friends that I have in this world. Even people I have been somewhat estranged from but remain friends with on Facebook and see how much good they are doing in this world, it warms my heart. I wish I could say this about everybody and every interaction that I have, but it just isn’t there.

Some days I do get really scared about things that could happen to me and my loved ones. I have to remind myself that only time will tell and it doesn’t do anybody any good to dwell on the could be. I am very thankful that we had 8 years with a black, democratic president, who pushed for progress and succeeded in many of his endeavors. I am thankful that he had an amazing woman by his side to support him, and one that was so comfortable in the public eye promoting her husband and her own vision to the world. That is the one thing I really loved about Michelle Obama that I think is somewhat unmatched in this world today: She had her own ideas and she was allowed to express them. She wasn’t in the public as the property of a man. She got her fame from being married to an excellent man who has excelled at every job he has held, as far as I am concerned. However, that does not negate the fact that she is an independent woman who carried herself that way. She is the inspiration young girls and women needed to succeed, and that was so far overlooked. I heard so many people leading up to the election say that they wanted Hillary Clinton to win for their daughters to have somebody to look up to. I think that’s all well and good- but you just overlooked a very powerful woman who was giving you just that. Not cool people, not cool.

All in all, I think that we as Americans made a choice. We could not come together and elect Hillary Clinton as our next president and that has to be okay with us. We weren’t ready for a woman to be in power, in my honest opinion, and she definitely had her own problems. What we have been given today is what we have to deal with for today and tomorrow, and all the tomorrow’s after that. I truly believe that if we stand together, we will be okay. There might be devastating damage along the way, I cannot stop myself from thinking about Hitler-ruled Germany no matter how hard I try. But Germany came a long way from that, and while I cannot imagine having to deal with anything close to that situation, I do know that whatever comes, we will all grow from it.

I said this the other day on Instagram and I am going to say it again, it is in challenging times that we grow the most. I did not post this in terms of individual and independent growth, but really the thought of growth for our society. If enough of us feel truly threatened, and enough of us feel truly safe, then we are divided in such a way that growth is imminent. As I said, it may come in the face of disaster and while I cannot imagine that, I have to acknowledge that it may be true. We may experience some real hurt before we can grow, but I do think, and again, I was raised a Christian, I do think that good trumps evil at the end of everything. Because of that, even if you do not have faith, I am asking (really begging) you to have it right now. Right now everybody around you needs you to have faith. And I believe that you can do it.

Published by She Got The PhD

A web-based soapbox of an Assistant Professor of color in Chemical Engineering; sharing my feelings on books, academia, and current events. I hope you enjoy reading :)

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