Shock seeped into the American psyche last Wednesday morning when Trump’s unlikely win was announced. While some took to social media, others took to the streets. From California to New York, anti-Trump protests and rallies ignited across the country. Even those without the ability to vote made their voices heard when high schoolers coordinated to walk out of class on Thursday. Georgia was projected to be split between the two candidates, but ultimately fell to Trump supporters. What no one expected was the outcry and demonstrations that would follow in Atlanta and Athens on the 9th. When there is a call to action from a conservative southern state that swung red Tuesday night, discontent is undoubtedly widespread.
An Athens-Clarke county police car splattered florescent blue across the intersection of College and Broad streets between the city’s downtown and the University of Georgia campus. Opposing parties hurtling insults constituted a millennial divide on opposite sides of the thoroughfare. While some arrived with intention, intrigue and outrage compelled the rest. Though the community action officially began at 6pm, a minimum of one hundred Hillary supporters and concerned citizens of the state’s smallest geographical county had amassed within the hour. A single cab waited for a tiresome or hasty retreat from the anti-Trump protest that took place in the heart of Athens; a pedestrian crosswalk connecting the University of Georgia to downtown. Honks for Hillary whizzed by as Trump supporters pulled up with a flapping American flag attached to the hitch of their lifted truck.
Hillary Clinton’s triumph in the popular vote was apparent along the streets as supporters continued to flood their respective camps. The turn out for Trump never reached more than one quarter of those backing Clinton. One citizen exit poll volunteer claimed that Clinton received a ten to one ratio of support within Athens-Clarke county, which isn’t hard to believe when the support for the municipality was reported as sixty-five percent standing with her.
Members of each team broke away to approach their rivals, and civil discussion replaced chants for a time. From federal vs. central government to funding and human rights issues, there was a desire to better understand the mindset of “the other.”
A single man in a rooster skull cap crossed College street. He asked, “why did the chicken cross the street? Because it was scared shitless over there [among Trump supporters].”
Reverberating bangs and clanks of pots and pans grew louder in response to “Trumpers” driving by with mocking laughter, fingers lifted and hate speech. A rippling flash of flames burst across the Hillary frontline as a Trump-Pence flag burned. In a stroller at the end of a line of policemen standing guard, a toddler with a pink pacifier quietly studied the scene.
Trumped-up trucks trickled by with Trump-Pence signs and the horns of semis startling bystanders. A lone voice from the LGBT community ringed out, “what are you compensating for, honey?” After the rev of an engine, a cloud of exhaust and disdain for climate change wafted past Clinton supporters.
Trump’s hatred was apparent in a considerable number of his followers. Although one supporter claimed that “white shaming” had pushed him and his cohorts toward Trump, another approached an African-American woman from the Trump street block to scream “Shine my shoes!” inches from her face. The woman simply stated, “Black, White, Love” as she walked from the scene as the offender was pushed back across the street. Police were forced to step in and maintain separation of the groups to maintain order and safety among the individuals.
Our shock stemmed from several factors, but one was glowering: the support and normalization of discriminatory, racist, sexist, xenophobic and misogynistic behavior prevailed in unfathomable numbers. Though tolerance of those around us will eventually come as issue resistance continues, unity under the guise of unaffected daily life is an inflammatory lie in the days following this election. Those that believe the worst behavior to come of Trump’s election will only be verbal are naïve to the hatred of scores of Americans. Evidence of a violent reactionary conduct surfaced before voters ever approached the booths.
Millions of Americans now face threats from being deported or denied human rights to a loss of hope for future gains (read: equal pay). We can not afford to lose another black life, encourage hatred of Muslims, take advantage of women physically or emotionally or threaten same-sex couples way of life. These issues are not ones that directly affect Trump supporters, but their actions will change the lives of their fellow countrymen.
The working middle class is right to want more for themselves—but not at the expense of others. Fear-mongering won this election, but acting on it will not deliver the results these Americans wish to see. The American dream is owned by the one percent that was elected to power. As a member of this privileged group, Trump will only continue to take from the middle class. The United States must close the income inequality gap to raise the poorest of the poor from poverty as well as to give the middle class the opportunity to achieve their American dream. Strides such as these will now have wait a minimum of four more years before we can move forward.
Now that Trump will take office, who can imagine what turns the world will take for the toddler, pink pacifier in tow. What will her future hold?