From Professor to Student: The Election Aftermath

How do I feel about the election results? Awful.

My heart aches. I’m scared and still feeling down in the (Trump) dumps. The shock is starting to wear off. My sense of humor is slowly coming back. Acceptance? That will take more time.

I understand wanting change. I felt the same way after 8 years of George W. Bush. I understand having many issues with Hillary. I was, and still am, pro-Bernie!

I don’t understand how someone who shouts hate against many minority groups, was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, has so-called “locker room talk” nowhere near a locker room and has zero experience can become president.  

A million questions raced through my mind upon hearing the news. What do we do now? Will people keep fighting with each other on social media? Will people peacefully protest? Will petitions to debunk the electoral college arise and if so, will make a difference? Will my husband still be able to visit my family without being detained? How do we explain this to the Muslim children whose school was vandalized? To the African American teens terrified of being pulled over by a cop? To the Latinos scared of being deported? To the Asian community being told to “go home?” To the parents trying to raise a son to respect women? To the kids bullied for being “different?”

I didn’t know. But I did know that I had to walk into class and somehow teach. Somehow give my university students hope in a brighter future. I was very choked up, in shock and in tears. I could only mutter out a few words before having them give their acting presentations. I tried hard to smile as I listened but the tears kept flowing. We finished with a brief closing circle and after I collected my thoughts I later sent them this letter. 

Dear students,

Thank you for your patience with me this week. I have never cried in class before, but I couldn’t hold the tears back this time. As an American living in the Middle East (for over 8 years) I have had the privilege of getting to know people from many cultural and religious backgrounds. People that I now call friends and even family. 

I didn’t know much about the Middle East other than what the American media showed me. I had tons of questions when I first arrived. I am very grateful to have had met friendly and understanding people who, no matter how deep or silly the questions were, answered all of them. I was welcomed very warmly and graciously into the U.A.E. by many. 

I wish I could say that racism and Xenophobia didn’t exist or that it was going to go away, but I can’t. I wish I could say that if you went to America tomorrow you would be treated with the same respect that I was when coming here, but I can’t. 

It breaks my heart to know that many of you will be judged, or treated poorly, because of the color of your skin, the country branded on your passport or your religious beliefs. Please don’t ever feel less than, or better than, because of the shade of skin God gave you. You are not beneath, or above, anyone. Your worth isn’t determined by a bank account, nationality or color. It’s measured in kindness and how you treat others. The love you put out into the world is what will be returned to you. 

We must be kind to each other. More kind than ever before universally. If a person cuts you off, rather than shouting at them, wave and smile. They are clearly having a worse day than you. If the person behind you at the drive-through is honking their horn impatiently, rather than shouting at them, buy them a coffee. They are clearly having a worse day than you. If a person is saying something cruel and mean about another culture or religion, rather than shouting at them, look at it as an opportunity to start a positive dialogue. Or better yet, perform random acts of kindness just to make someone smile. A person who receives an act of kindness will most likely pay it forward creating a ripple effect. 

Together in class we laugh, build friendships and express ourselves through art. A room filled with immense diversity can also be filled with great love. We are proof of that! Let us all continue to lead by example in everything that we do. For at the end of the day, we are all the same. Were just humans.   

I will always be here for you. Today, tomorrow, next year, in ten years, in twenty years, inshallah more. If you ever feel down and need to be reminded of these words, just let me know.

All my best,
Your Italian-American Brofessora 

P.S. Just because Melania took Michele’s speech doesn’t mean you can plagarize your upcoming papers lol! 

May America rest in pieces, and soon rise from the ashes with more compassion and tolerance. May we all (globally) remember that from violence nothing is freed and that hate only feeds the greed. 

Photo by Imran Ahmed

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