by Rose Heredia
Hearing “This can’t be happening” and “Is this a nightmare” as I walked with my classmates to the bar Pig & Whistle on election night while others, like myself, walked along in silence, breathing meditative breaths, I thought how racist this country is. How do I even begin to live in this country with this man as president? I didn’t know and still don’t know how to answer that question.
The next day at work, I was silent and so were some other co-workers who think about the world and how the president will affect the country’s status for the next four years. What I couldn’t understand was how some other marginalized folks were acting as if shit was cute, as if their rights weren’t going to be violated, as if this is “same shit, different day” kinda shit. I think why my fellow folks of color were so nonchalant is because we had been crying and grieving over our fallen brothers and sisters being tragically slain for the last few years. They were nonchalant because “well, I guess that just means more people of color are going to be tragically killed under Trump’s presidency.” Cuz that didn’t change while Obama was president. When 9/11 happened, I hurt for all the lost lives in the towers but because I didn’t directly know anyone in the Towers, I fell victim to apathy. But this time is different. I’m directly affected by this presidency.
It’s the first time I have been pushed for a call to arms in my community. It’s the first time I feared for my life. Who would I encounter on the streets, at work, at a concert? I didn’t experience anything firsthand but reading stories of racial hate across the country had me on alert.
I am a woman of color which means I have both men and women family members of color. My family is spread across the east coast. I have always identified as a New Yorker first and then a person of color, and then a woman but after these election results, I realized that I’m just a person of color that is already marginalized because of racism and sexism and guess what? Ignorant and racist people exist in the world and just because I’m from a liberal city and currently live in another liberal city on the other side of the country does not mean I’m exempt from facing racial and/or physical assaults. So I thought about my brother, my cousins, and all of my friends of color in New York City. I was hyper vigilant of my surroundings on the bus and BART and even in my workplace. Everyone is so liberal but not everyone checks their privilege and pays attention to their biases, especially with people of color.
This is the first time I will march out in the streets, peacefully, against Trump. This is the first time I want to use my art to start a political conversation while motivating others to participate who feel the same way. This is the first time I am feeling outside of myself. The younger and older generations and not just people of color, but everyone is affected by this impending presidency. It’s up to us as not only Americans but as artists to fucking do something, start some shit, get fucking political in some way or another. Call our senators to do something when shit’s not right. Be informed and fucking get uncomfortable because guess what? It just got uncomfortable in this bitch for the next FOUR YEARS. Let’s start some shit.
Rose Heredia is Dominican-American and from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York. She is currently enrolled in the Creative Writing MFA program at the University of San Francisco. She is a VONA alumni, served as a fiction and non-fiction editor for the UC Berkeley Extension literary magazine, Ursa Minor, and received a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program in Writing. She currently lives in Oakland and works for a start-up solar financing company that is helping her pay back her student loans.