It was too much. I had to go to Starbucks.
I’m weird this way. When I’m stressed and upset, I drink coffee. Not tea, coffee. And I needed a place that felt like “home” when I feel so far away from it, especially now that Trump is the President-elect. And yes, even though it’s approximately 2-5x more expensive, and 500% snobbier, than other Czech cafés. Disclaimer: I actually go to Starbucks much more often abroad than when I’m in the States.
Thankfully Brno is always a great place to escape to. There is always a festival or market, something happening in Svoboda (Freedom) square.
This time it was a market in celebration of Svatý (Saint) Martin, who is said to ride in the winter (and bring the snow!) on his white horse. He did bring the snow on Thursday, but only for a very short time.
At the market in the square, there are many stalls selling warm alcoholic drinks like svařák (mulled wine), medovina (honey mead), and of course the special svatomartinské víno. It is traditional to drink this extra fruity, slightly sour “first wine” – which is always white or rosé due to the short time the wine is left to mature – and eat goose during this first winter weekend.
It’s really hard to be away from home right now, feeling like there is nothing I can do to help or support people in need and people I love. Observing the goings-on of the USA from afar over the past two and half years has been a strange experience. I’m sure it will continue to be.
But I can say without a doubt: forget Trump’s slogan. American-style customer service is already great enough.
If you aren’t American and you want to really know how this patriotic American reacted to the election results, look no further. Let me say: I am disappointed and ashamed and I feel deeply betrayed. On November 12th, four days after Trump became the President-elect, I wrote in my journal:
This is the week Donald Trump, bigoted, racist, misogynistic, serial liar extraordinaire, was elected president. I cycle through phases of shock, nausea, numbness, and denial. I am honestly paralyzed. Nothing is normal. I don’t want to read emails, watch Youtube, play ukulele or read. I feel sick. I feel really, really sad. I ignore some comments I’d normally react to with defiance. I can’t express myself well. I am truly ill with shock.
What went wrong? It pisses me off so much when people blame Hillary. It was a variety of prejudice, ignorance, laziness, and FBI mishaps that failed our first possible woman president, who would have brought us maternity (and parental) leave, free community college, and kept Obamacare and abortion rights safe. I grieve these possibilities, dead in their tracks, which have been replaced with shameless prejudice and hatred.
How did so many people (and 53% of white women) fall for the joke? How does hate and ignorance win? How were we so blind? “The people” wanted this, though Clinton won the popular vote. Trump’s victory has legitimized and given firepower to all kinds of hateful actions. My poc friends are terrified with reason. How can we all be legitimately represented when ~55-60% of the country votes?
The ugly came out of the woodwork – no, it was always there. Trump himself makes me nauseous but not as much as the new knowledge (and I guess poc have known all along) that white people successfully and strongly misunderstand, ignore, and write off racism and intolerance in all forms. What can we do now? I feel defeated, and I can’t imagine how people targeted by violence feel.
Many people tell me “We have to wait and see,” “Maybe it won’t be so bad.” I’m sorry, but I disagree with you.
There will be no balance of power in a Trump administration – meaning that Republicans control the executive and legislative branches, and when Trump appoints a new Supreme Court Judge, they will probably control the judicial branch as well. This is the result of horrific policies like gerrymandering and voter suppression.
The 50% of the voters which disagree with his presidency are devastated about this. How will our concerns be heard?
Trump supporters – forgetting our immigrant roots – have been spreading the disgusting idea that non-white people can’t actually be American, whether they were born here or not, legal immigrants or citizens or not. They have no tolerance for those who look or believe differently than them. So especially, how will the concerns of non-white America be heard? As Langston Hughes (1902-1967) wrote, they are America too.
I will end with his beautiful poem “Let America Be America Again”:
Let America be America again. Let it be the dream it used to be. Let it be the pioneer on the plain Seeking a home where he himself is free. (America never was America to me.) Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed— Let it be that great strong land of love Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme That any man be crushed by one above. (It never was America to me.) O, let my land be a land where Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath, But opportunity is real, and life is free, Equality is in the air we breathe. (There’s never been equality for me, Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)