It’s November 9th, and I sit here in the Rat. People filter in and out, some with smiles on their faces and others with a sense of stunned disbelief. Make America Great Again hats are scattered throughout the crowd, as are Drumpf/Pence shirts. There seems to be a nervous energy that permeates the room; no one quite knows how to feel and what really to say. We just elected the 45th President of the United States, and what a momentous occasion it should be. America will oversee yet another transition of power peacefully, the wheels of government will continue to turn, and life moves on in a sense. But for many, many people that will not be in the case.
My full name is Joseph William Dorion. I’m Mexican-Guatemalan, but you couldn’t really tell that by looking at me. I’m that shade of brown that lends itself to maybe being Italian or possibly Spanish. I come from California, one of the more liberal states in our country. I grew up in a household that was greatly affected by social welfare, and wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the continual help of good-natured, empathetic people. It does not matter whether or not they were conservative or liberal, who they had voted for, or what stickers they put on their bumpers. I think that has shaped me into the person that I am today. I consider myself incredibly far to the left: everyone should have a fair opportunity to advance themselves, and the government should step in to make sure things are equal. We should be active in the lives of the other, in a positive way.
My father came to America as a Guatemalan immigrant, looking for opportunity and to advance himself because he felt that he didn’t have any opportunity in his home country. He came to the United States looking for the American dream, for acceptance, but most importantly for progress. My mother’s grandparents came from central Mexico seeking an escape from the turmoil that existed in a state tearing itself apart in civil war. They choose America for what they believed it stood for, sentiments that were echoed in my father’s choice to come. The world can be an inherently cruel place, but they believed that in America they would be able to find some sense of safety. A possibility to live unencumbered by fear, to get along.
But that isn’t what I felt in this election cycle. That fire and passion that had burned within me to enter the political sphere took a hit yesterday, as it has this entire election cycle. It never felt as though we were racing towards a brighter future, but rather we were choosing to delve deeper into quagmire. And American politics is a slow moving beast. Change is slow to come and more often than not comes in painfully small doses. Yet we have moved forward in this country, and that is an undisputed fact. A person of color was elected President. Same sex-marriage was legalized. I believe that the “City on a Hi”ll has given the world so much to emulate.
The light has dimmed today though. It is fitting that November 9th is the anniversary of Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass. I leave it up to you to google what that is. But on this day of international remembrance, we must stare history in the face. A man who has advocated war crimes will soon assume control of our country’s nuclear arsenal. A man who has mocked openly a majority of ethnic, religious, and minority groups will be tasked with leading domestic policy. The social welfare system that has allowed me to succeed hangs in the balance. More importantly, fear has been institutionalized. And that is what disturbs me most. Millions of people who fear everything that our country has become have just had their fears justified. And I fear for so many things at the moment. I fear for myself as a person of color. I fear for my female friends, now confronting a country that doesn’t diminish sexual assault. I fear for my friends with undocumented parents. I woke up yesterday optimistic, and went to sleep more fearful than I have ever been.
We must fall sometimes. It is human nature to fall, to make mistakes, and to give in to our fears. We must do this in order to move forward. It is a painful experience, one that defies logic and emotional reasoning, and moral decency. But that does not mean that we must take it lying down, or that the status quo must be accepted. One of my favorite poems by Dylan Thomas implores one “Do not go gentle into that goodnight…Rage, rage against the dying of the light.” America has entered a period of twilight, and a period of mourning is necessary. To offer love and support to those that now have to live in fear. That is not an eternal state, nor one that we will forever endure. We must fall so that we can pick ourselves back up again. I have hopefully a long and prosperous life ahead of me, one that will be defined the actions that I make not as a Democrat but as a person. And I hope that I can tell my children that when the light seemed the darkest, I raged against it. I refused to go gentle into that goodnight. I will not allow the America that I was raised in to die out. And I hope that because of that, it will make all the difference.