An Open Letter to Millennials in the Wake of Election Day 2016
Your voice still matters.
To those of us who woke up to a very different America than the one we woke up to yesterday.
To those who aren’t sure how to cope. Who woke up feeling broken today. Who refuse to accept hatred and ignorance as the status quo. Who will staunchly keep fighting for what they believe. Who will exercise their right to freedom of speech and religion and each and every other unalienable thing that this country was founded on.
And to millennials, most of all.
Welcome to Trump’s America. Not so united after all, are we?
I hope you hated reading those words as much as I loathed typing them. I hope you’re as angry and saddened and disgusted and disbelieving as I am. And I hope that you are ready to stand up and exercise your right to free speech now more than ever, because I certainly am. Because if they think we’re going to take this sitting down, they’ve got another thing coming.
Why does my voice matter?
I'm a millennial woman. I'm also a first generation Iranian American with parents who immigrated to the United States in high school and college. And my family just so happens to be Muslim, although we are non-practicing.
Farsi was my first language. I was raised on stories of the Persian Empire, a vast and powerful and beautiful empire now reduced to sensationalized media outrage and cries of “radical Islamic terrorism." (Trump’s words, not mine — or Hillary's.)
I'm also a feminist with deeply ingrained values that stem from being raised by my parents, who both managed to narrowly miss the Iranian Revolution (Google it), only to become citizens of a nation whose relations to the Middle East have only grown more volatile in recent years.
Of course, I’m not the only one with a story like this. And just as much as I was raised on Persian mythology, I also grew up drinking the milk of the American Dream. Eating it in my breakfast cereal. Watching it on TV. Reading it in history books at school.
This country was founded as a place of refuge, just as it was for my parents. America has always been a place of escape for those seeking a better life, free of religious persecution, and I have always been proud to be an American.
Although today is another story.
Yes, I’m a feminist and I believe in the fundamental right to equality for both sexes. I’m also a humanist, and yesterday my faith in humanity was shaken to its very core.
So, what now?
It’s easy to lose ourselves in sadness, anger, and above all, a sense of disillusionment toward a bipartisan system that was rigged to fail us — We, the People — but by no means can we forget that it is up to us now. Let’s remember one thing, millennials: We are it. We are the generation that needs to shoulder it all. And we've got to keep working to ensure our voices are heard.
We’ve got to refuse to accept Trump’s not so United States of America as the status quo. We’ve got to keep rising up and up and up to break that fucking glass ceiling. One day. Someday.
Nasty women: We’ve got to keep kicking ass and taking names.
Amidst this chaotic and hate-fueled political climate, it's clear that this isn’t just politics: It’s personal. It’s a deep seated attack against the demographic and paradigm shifts that have been coming for so long. Too long.
So let’s not forget what matters, in the wake of all this. Climate change. Women’s rights. Healthcare.
The divisive two-party system has failed us. This is no longer Republican versus Democrat — it’s human versus human. And it’s hard not to feel like we haven’t backpedaled at least 50 years. We are a people with some dark days ahead of us, but the fight has just begun.
So I ask that in the days to come, you practice kindness. Compassion. Open your heart to strangers and those with different backgrounds than your own. Your female, black, LGBT+, Hispanic, and Muslim friends. The people who are, like me, sounding off on Facebook and other forms of social media because they just don’t know what else to do.
But amidst the heartbreak, there are things you can do. Donate to Planned Parenthood. Partake in peaceful protests. Speak up and campaign for what you believe in. Call your elected community representative. Stand up for marginalized Americans who are fighting to be heard. Get out there. Do something.
And don’t forget to ask questions. Don’t assume anything the media tells you to be true beyond a shadow of a doubt. Think for yourselves. Above all else, hold onto hope, and love, because far and away these things will always trump hatred and ignorance — but we’ll always have to fight for them. And remember that we’ve gotten through worse and come out on the other side. Not just as a country, but as a species. We all look up to the same moon every night. We all have the same color blood pumping in our veins. We are all human. Please remember that.
A deeply heartbroken first generation American citizen