There are no walls in a classroom, we all need to learn

Scared, sad, disappointed, heart-broken, shocked are some ways that the majority of people I know feel after the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States of America.

The people I know are mostly college educated, progressive thinkers; about half are atheist or agnostic and a large number are a part of a minority group. That is my bubble.

The day that minorities became a majority and elected Obama to the White House is long gone.

We all have our ideas on why this happened.  There will be plenty of of finger pointing and blame to go around; but the truth is that it hurts so much becase we did not expect this to happen.

This unexpected victory sheds a light on a reality that many of us that voted Clinton did not see and perhaps did not even want to see.  Millions of Americans angry and fearful and mostly white demonstrated how deep our divide is.  There is racial divide, an educational divide, a religious divide.

We, the progressive minorities have utterly failed at connecting with half of Americans that do not share our vision of the world.   Perhaps our stories and experiences have only been shared with the like-minded.   Like to Consul of Mexico said a while ago at an event, we are great at making our case in environments where we have a lot in common; we are not to so good at reaching out to those that need to hear it most.

Over 90 of the largest and most respected newspapers in the country endorsed Clinton and it meant nothing, at least nothing for the mayority of people that voted in this election.

All the polls showed Clinton winning and they were all wrong.  Perhaps they did not ask the people in rural counties and the people that had never voted because there never believed anybody would represent them.

Call it dismissiveness, arrogance or (gasp!) ignorance on our part.  We have not engaged with the millions of people that were fired up by this election and came out in millions to vote for a man that meant to them the return to Christian values, the predominance of white power, a change in politics, and most of all, a loud and angry cry of discontent.

Hillary’s concession speech remind us that this is not about us only, it is about the entire country and her call to move forward and advance this nation as more inclusive, involves listening, acknowledging and learning from those that in this case elected the President.

I see a great parallel between Latino voices often not represented in main stream media and the voices of the people that voted Trump also not often represented in main stream media.   I want to ask the same questions I would want anybody to ask me or the Latino community:  What is your story?  What experiences have impacted you the most and have defined who you are and how you think? What is what you fear the most? What gives you the most pride and hope? What is most important to your family? Where do you want to go? Who do you want to be?

The answers to those questions are the ones we need to ponder and consider when we continue to work to build this country.  We also need to widely share our stories but not limited anymore to our own circles that (we know now )have segregated us from a larger truth.  The truth that 46% of people were so unmoved or disenchanged that decided to stay home and that half the population that voted said NO to our platform and our world view.

“Our stories are all different stories, but as long as their are the true, they are powerful” is a line from Cristela Alonzo that has stayed with me for a while and echoes Hillary’s wish to have “..everybody coming out from behind that and make sure your voices are heard going forward”

An honest and painful conversation is needed. Their reality and is as valuable as ours, in fact, it has proven more effective than ours in electing a President.

Already many examples of mysoginy and racism have erupted.  It is important that we stay alert, we document them and we make them public.

I, do not believe that the majority of people that voted trump are inherently racist or do not respect women or minorities, even though that is the platform Trump ran on.  What I believe is that they have never had the opportunity to meet us and are simply afraid of the unknown.  It is experiences that change people’s minds.

Some ideas to move forward:  Tell your story, ask for someone else to tell you their story, engage in civic participation, volunteer at school and bring your voice and perspective there, learn a new language, do something nice for someone completely different from you, donate and volunteer at local non-profits, support with your resources and talent the causes you hold most dear to your heart, educate your kids, volunteer to educate other kids.  Run for office.

Let’s consider for a second that even if Hillary had won, there would be exactly the same number of people grieving as deeply and we are now on the other side.

There are no winners in this election. Even Donald Trump now owes to the people that voted for him the execution of some of the most unfeasible policies and plans.  Even he must be scared.  Let’s not let fear stop us from moving forward.  We need to work now more than ever.

I am inspired by the millions of women and men that joined Pantsuit Nation and poured their hearts into the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in the 15 years I have lived in this country. Lifiting each other and encouraging each other.   I am  inspired by Seth Meyers and writer Richard Russo fighting tears while they shared the moment they had to face their mothers and daughters that had bought pantsuits for the election.  I am inspired by so many DACA receipients that have gone back to work with courage, fear but determination to make this country a better country for all. I am inspired by a girl I know at an Elementary School in Atlanta that went to class wearing a pantsuit the day after the election and told everybody that asked: “We need a strong and smart woman in the White House”.  Finally, I am inspired by Hillary Clinton because even when she lost, she has been able to truly begin a  movement of love and inclusion. It is up to us to keep it going.



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Gilda (Gigi) Pedraza

Executive Director and Founder Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia) Social Entrepreneur, Community Advocate, Latina, Mom, Wife. Lover of Life.

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