By Kira Sansone
I stepped off a plane from Honduras the day after the presidential inauguration and went into a country that no longer felt like my own.
Coming from a white-cis gender female, this probably seems dramatic.
President Donald Trump’s policies target and affect other marginalized groups far more than they will me. Sure, he and his administration have attacked Planned Parenthood and journalists and he wants to take away my healthcare, destroy the economy and might start World War III, but I still have it better off than many other people simply because of my white privilege.
But I am definitely still scared. Everything feels like this weird, dystopian haze. It still does not feel real that the most unqualified candidate won the presidency. Every time I read a headline or article about something him or his administration has done — from the Muslim ban to appointing a woman who believes schools should have guns because of grizzly bears as Secretary of Education — it feels fake and like it cannot possibly be actually happening.
I’m sure people on the right would call me a snowflake who cannot deal with reality, but it’s the best coping mechanism I have right now. If I pretend it’s not real, maybe it won’t actually happen, right?
No, that’s not right.
Because these things actually are happening. And if I, and many other privileged Americans, don’t snap out of this fog and start trying to prevent these policies from happening, I am just as guilty as the people creating them. As a white, American born citizen, I have a duty to protect the people that the government will not right now.
The same day I arrived in the U.S., millions of women all over the country, and world, marched in protest of the new president. It was beautiful in theory, but also a stirring reminder that feminism has a long way to go before it is truly intersectional. Where were all these women when Black Lives Matter was marching and needed white allies? Why were pussy hats the big thing when not everyone who is a woman has a vagina?
It was still an example of the power of the people, and there have been multiple protests every week since, even if they are on smaller scales. People are still making their voices heard, and in some cases, it’s working. The Department of Homeland Security banned enforcement of the Muslim ban after a Washington judge blocked it. This came after protests of the ban all over the country, namely at airports. There was even one right on campus last Wednesday that I had the pleasure of attending.
America and I have always had a complicated relationship. I clearly remember refusing to write an essay in fifth grade on why I was proud to be an American. I was not. I still am not. I know I’m very lucky to be an American, but I cannot be proud of a country that consistently violates the human rights of its citizens and those in other countries.
But if I want to change America’s course, and keep the Trump administration from violating even more human rights and continuing to turn the country into an oppressive regime, it’s time to get over the denial stage and launch into action. I didn’t choose to go to school close to D.C. to NOT protest an authoritarian president.
Featured Photo Credit: A number of people wore flags to the march to show their patriotism, while still protesting the inequality present in the United States. (Julia Lerner/Bloc Photography Editor)
Kira Sansone is a junior journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.