As an American, I woke up this morning to a sense of mourning.
I mourned the fact that the world I thought was progressing and becoming more accepting was actually moving backward, toward intolerance and xenophobia.
That my everyday battle in trying to feel like I belong in my own country, in this world, as a minority, is only losing.
Although this is merely American politics, its global influences are inevitable. This is also the first time where its outcome will most likely severely impact our daily lives.
Because xenophobia, racism, mockery, harassment, and intolerance, has just been validated and considered socially acceptable.
We can be angry all we want, but this is now more reason than ever before to actively change things in our daily lives.
The only choice we can have, as internationally-traveled, educated, and privileged American citizens, is to make it our daily duty to defend those who are alienated and disrespected by their nation.
It is now our daily duty to defend Muslims, immigrants, minorities, or any of those who are vulnerable, when the ill-informed are manipulated into fearing or misunderstanding them.
Prepare things to say when you find yourself around Islamophobia. Prepare to help an immigrant who struggles with English. Prepare to defend a woman who is being sexually harassed on the street. Prepare to speak up for the disabled if they are being disrespected or mocked.
It is especially our duty, as media-trained professionals, to tell stories that humanize the alienated, to showcase the real diversity of our people.
This year’s outcome proved one thing – and that is media can change how people think. The Internet and its fast-paced content are forming ideologies.
It is now more important than ever to fill the Internet and television with real stories of people that are misunderstood. To create content that is informative and sympathetic.
Without these seemingly minor actions, we will only get closer to another war, as it is these misinformed hate and intolerance that truly fuels terrorism and violence.
Instead of writing angry statuses on Facebook, educate ourselves. Speak to people of different backgrounds. Befriend those who are different from you. Accept those who may not look like you. Travel more and truly understand the world, so you may bring the knowledge home and change those around you.
“The most vulnerable among us will now be even more vulnerable,” – Roxane Gay, New York Times.
From the famous words of Pastor Martin Niemöller, as it cannot be emphasized enough:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.