Every year has its highs and lows, but 2016 has been one of the roughest years in recent memory. On a less serious note, terrible movies and video games have been released. More seriously though, we’ve grieved the deaths of legendary artists who’ve inspired generations of current and future artists. We’ve grieved the deaths of seemingly innocent black men, women and children who were gunned down on the street by police. And we laughed at, and now grieve the whole debacle that was the 2016 Presidential Election Race.
From the candidates, to the debates, to the scandals, the race was an utter mess, and as a result our country is constant worry about what the future holds. “What will become of America when Trump is officially sworn in as president?” seems to be the most asked question. I recently went to a Trump Protest, not as a participant, just as a photographer. The feeling of racial, political and social divide was quite disheartening. The sight of anger among protesters, lack of empathy amongst Trump supporters and apathy from the suits within the Trump Tower was disappointing to say the least.
There were several groups of young teens at the protest, no older than 14. They said to a nearby reporter “we’re not old enough to vote, so we feel that protesting is the only way our voices can be heard.”
But after having a 2 hour discussion with a Clinton supporter, a Trump supporter, and a man with no real allegiances, I realized that not all hope is lost. Although vastly different ideologies, beliefs and viewpoints were discussed, the fact that we could all come together and just talk to each other is a feat in itself. Right now, our country desperately needs more communication, empathy, and respect.
This is India Kotis, she’s one of people I had a 2 hour discussion with during the protest. One of her major concerns is the skepticism about climate change.
Silent Protest – Union Square NYC — Photo Caption: Samantha Pezzolanti
I had a blog planned for this week. I was going to tell you of my story and how I adjusted to my life being here in America but with everything happening now I don’t think my adjustment period is over. I think it’s just beginning. As a woman of color who came to this country searching for a permanent place of comfort and peace I find myself lost. I have so many questions, I am confused, hurt, angry, numb, and discouraged. I don’t know where I stand in a country which seems to stand against everything I am.
Those of us who wanted a different outcome stand dumbfounded because it seems that in the same week where we turned the clocks back an hour, we turned history back 200 years with preachings of hate and intolerance. It’s been one week since women, immigrants, muslims, people of color, and members of the LGBTQ community lives hang in the air. We stand in disbelief that we are once again being forced to fight for rights we marched, cried, and shed blood for. It’s been one week and we cannot adjust to the words. It’s been one week and we cannot adjust to the pain and ignorance. It’s been one week and we are still waiting to wake up and realize it’s only a bad dream– but it’s not and this is now the America we must face. So how do we adjust to this new reality?
I say we don’t. I say we fight. I say we care for each other like we never have before. I say we use our words and craft to stop these radical changes. I say we educate our communities and sign every petition we can. I say we stand by one another. I say we love each other, support each other, and remind one another that together we stand. I say we speak for the rights of each other. I say we tweet, comment, share, and like positivity. I say we be Americans because to be an American once meant to be the best, to be a leader, to be accepting, helpful, and strong. Let’s be that! Let’s not adjust to a hateful country. Let’s accept and grieve this period of our history, but let it be just that; a day in history that did not break us.
I advocate to everyone feeling powerless by this change to speak up. To share your story because no matter what may change, our speech is still a freedom they can never take from us. Remember that I am here for you. I accept and love every single one of you and there is nothing that could change that. Until next Wednesday remember to be kind to each other!