On election night I knew I was getting drunk. Either out of happiness, or to ignore the impending doom of my country and the future. Unfortunately, the latter occurred. I could not go to sleep that night, and I have been restless ever since. Once, my boyfriend showed me a video of Hillary Clinton on a talk show pre-election and I started to cry.
Even as a privileged white woman, my entire being felt violated. My future, my hope, my self-worth, and my aspirations seemed tarnished; tainted in disgusting orange Cheetos dust. I felt self-hatred and outward hatred, and self-pity and outward pity for the people it was really going to affect. I needed an outlet. With so many marches and demonstrations going on back home in the US, I felt helpless and upset. Edinburgh gave me an outlet at the Emergency March on Monday, 30th January. I went with an American friend, and I honestly did not know what to expect.
The signs, the chants, the speakers and the number of people participating overwhelmed me, but I was also left unsurprised. Scotland is left wing, progressive, and filled with Remain voters and reasonable people. Men, women, children, young and old, all races and religions crowded Princes Street and journeyed to the Scottish Parliament with rallying cries of “Refugees Welcome”, “Trump and May Have Got to Go”, and “Stop Deportation.” The eloquent outrage of the people marching in solidarity was a comfort I dearly missed from home. Being an American in Edinburgh, people tend to ask me how I feel about the election. I mainly say I don’t want to talk about it. Because I can’t talk about it. I can only rant about it, weep about it and rage about it.
The march gave me clarity. It gave me the hope I was dearly missing. And while I am not sure what good it may have done, I am thankful to this city for giving me an outlet, a window of hope and the ability to show solidarity. Trump is evil. He will never be my president. He will forever tarnish history textbooks, and I am sure the future will look back on us and be disappointed that Americans chose a tyrant over an extremely qualified female candidate.
I am not a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union; I can’t go and help refugees stuck in Los Angeles Airport (which is honestly already hellish) or JFK waiting to get home, stuck in limbo simply because of their nationality and religion. I cannot imagine their fear. I cannot imagine the fear of immigrants who came to the US for a better life, of children brought over the border for a chance to live away from drug warlords and violence, of Latinx people walking down the street and coming across a man in a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat.
I still feel helpless. I am a first year university student in Scotland. I can’t do much. But I can make my voice heard; going to the march and chanting, taking pictures and videos, and being on the right side of history. It is what I must do, and what we must all continue to do.
Edinburgh will forever be a part of me, and the kind resilience of the people living and marching here, I hope, will become a part of me too.
Image Credit: Elizabeth Greenberg