Expatriate Vermonter Reacts to Election
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Dear America,My name is Samara Manges, I am a 24 year old female from the state of Vermont. In September this year I moved to France to work as a language assistant for 7 months. It is now two months later and America has chosen it’s 45th president of the United States of America. The tears, anxiety and stress of the hours between November 7th and 8th were shared with my fellow expats in France, along with millions of Americans back home. Full disclosure, I was an avid Bernie Sanders supporter and after he lost I shifted my full support to Hillary Clinton. As of right now, into the waning hours of election day I feel the indescribable fear and pain of our country having elected Donald Trump. I love living in France, but one thing French people are known for is their outwardness when it comes to politics. I am scared to face the French. I am scared to face the world outside of the U.S as a representative of its policies and ideals that I do not agree with. When people asked me, “Can Donald Trump actually become president” my answer was no. I had hoped that America, in the face of bigotry, xenophobia and sexism, would say no. When people will ask me, “How did this happen” I will try not to cry and say, “I don’t know”.
I have fear for my country. I have never felt fear with such a magnitude before,
a feeling I know I share with millions. My heart breaks for my country, not only because my
preferred candidate did not win, but also because it illustrates the ruptured, and profoundly fractured spirit of the United States.
I also have anger. This pit in my stomach keeps growing, and I can feel it’s poison seeping through my body. I want to yell, scream and shake the people that can’t seem to see the racist and sexist foundation of the man that is now our President of the United States of America.
But wait. Why is anger always the body’s first emotional reaction? Anger and sadness.Though, anger cuts deeper and goes further. The only answer I can find is, it’s easy. It’s easy to rest in anger, it distances “the other,” what we don’t know, what we fear, what we hate. Anger lets us stay back, laugh at the loser and continue on a single-minded, narrow path. What’s hard is listening. It takes more courage and strength to ask the person next to you, “Why do you feel this way?” instead of ignoring them from anger. I don’t want to be angry with you, America. I don’t want to be embarrassed. I am the person I am today because I’ve been afforded wonderful opportunities provided for me by my country. I want to understand. We get more answers asking questions than yelling in anger.
It doesn’t matter how we got here. What matters is that we put downs the clubs and pitchforks and emotionally enter the 21st century. Stop being afraid of asking what makes us, the citizens united under one flag, so different? Stop being afraid of what you are not. Ask questions and when someone ask you one, take time to think before you speak. If anger is your first response, be braver and try to understand.
Personally, I’ve always loved the color purple.