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“My heart literally hurts”: Muslims, women, and people of color on Donald Trump’s victory

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Immigrants. Women. Muslims. People of color. The list of groups that Donald Trump insulted, condescended to, and threatened during his presidential campaign is long. How did it feel to be a member of one of those groups on election night, as Trump’s victory became increasingly certain?

Here are some answers to that question.

And readers: if you want to tell us how you felt when Donald Trump won, email us at firstperson@vox.com. Include your name, age, profession, location, and identity. Keep your answer to 250 words. We’ll let you know if we decide to publish it.

Jose Antonio Vargas, 35, founder and CEO of DefineAmerican.com, Los Angeles, undocumented immigrant

Of all places, I was in the green room of the Fox News headquarters in New York City, just a few shoulders away from the likes of Karl Rove, George Will, and Tucker Carlson, when I realized that Donald Trump was going to win this thing. Fox News had just called Wisconsin for Trump, and everyone in the room was stunned.

As the only “illegal” in the room — this is what Fox News and Donald Trump call people like me — I sat there, feeling visibly invisible. Effectively, Trump made immigration a central part of his campaign, building a “wall” and securing the “border” that has nothing to do with me. (I’m Filipino. My wall and border was the Pacific Ocean.) The need to humanize this most political and partisan of issues is more essential and urgent than ever — it may be the only thing that saves us from the smallness of our politics. I feel like the voters who elected President Trump understand little about people like me.

Farha Tahir, 29, foreign policy professional, Washington, DC, Muslim

I worked as an election officer in Northern Virginia on Election Day, filled with a sense of excitement and hope in our democratic process. I was quickly deflated as I watched the returns come in: seeing forecasts quickly turning in his favor, watching stock futures plummet, reading hate-filled tweets from his supporters. My first reaction was denial. There was no way that all the polls (state-level and national), the pundits, the academics … there's no way they could all be wrong, right?

The sadness quickly set in: for the country, for those he's insulted, for Hillary Clinton, and for women who thought this was their historic election. And then fear. For the first time in my very privileged life, I felt a deep sense of fear for myself as a scarf-clad American Muslim woman and the many I love, whether they're Muslims, African Americans, immigrants, women, persons with disabilities, or identify with any other groups Trump has targeted.

I felt fear that they and I may have to worry about our physical safety in the country we call home. And I even had a brief bout of anger. But now, after a night of tossing and turning, I am just heartbroken. My heart literally hurts. And it will take time for that to heal, and for our nation to heal.

Sherry Rujikarn, 32, editor, New York, Asian-American

I went to bed when things were looking bleak, but hadn't been settled yet. This morning I ran downstairs, almost tripping on my robe, calling out to my husband, "What happened? What happened?" His somber response of, "he won," had me doubled over, sobbing in a way I hadn't in a very long time, wailing, "How could they do this?!" I felt broken under what felt like the sheer weight of America's misogyny and ignorance.

I understand that it'll take weeks, months, maybe even years, to unpack what happened last night and the months leading up to it. And I understand that last night's outcome was a result of a bunch of really complex and nuanced factors, but in that moment, hearing that Trump had won felt like America (men and women alike) had said to all women (and minorities and the LGBTQ+ community): You don't matter. You don't matter as much as money, as much as terrorism, as much as a wall. It felt like we were being told to get to the back of the line, as we always have been.

Jalal Baig, 31, physician, Chicago, Muslim

As votes trickled in on the evening of November 8 and the impossible went from improbable to inevitable, I shuddered alongside my Muslim friends. Donald J. Trump was now president-elect of the entire United States. The Islamophobia that Trump had marshaled throughout the primaries and the national election had now become part of his mandate. Sixty million of my fellow Americans had chosen “yes” to fear and loathing of Muslims on the ballot and I now had to reconcile my place in their America.

In this second, all the reservations I had about Hillary Clinton never seemed more misguided or selfish. I only hoped that 11/9 would not prove to be as devastating and consequential for Muslims as 9/11 was.

Trump’s vision to “Make America Great Again” was built on the dehumanization, exclusion, and suspicion of Muslims. His words incited some of this nation’s darkest demons and made much of what was once considered unconscionable wholly permissible.

I worry today for mosques and all those who appear “Muslimy,” and I fear for the Muslim kids who may spend their formative years steeped in hatred and intolerance. For now we cannot explain Trump away to them as an isolated spectacle unreflective of this country’s values. But this election wasn't about just us. My Latino, African American, and LGBTQ brothers and sisters are also hurting today. I can only hope that this is the point of confluence for all of our individual struggles.

Sarina Bajwa, 27, graduate student, New York, Muslim

I feel broken. Eight years ago I felt so inspired as a college sophomore when I saw the first African-American man become president on a platform of change and hope, only to have him followed by a man endorsed by the KKK.

As a Muslim, I am hurt and in fear for my physical safety and for that of my loved ones.

As a woman, I am horrified that the first woman candidate has conceded to a man that embodies everything that has hindered women throughout history.

As a child of two immigrants I am in tears at the thought of my parents moving to this country and giving so much up for a "better" future for their children, and am horrified for my young nieces and what their future holds.

I am in shock that I once had dreams of someday having my own family and living a life of liberty and prosperity. That seems like a joke now. It feels like apathy wins. That relationship building was for naught, or not enough was done. I literally feel like I should not have gone to grad school and instead devoted my time to voter education in Florida. The scope of the work that needs to be done seems too overwhelming and impossible, but somehow that's what I will do.

Peter Kim, 33, Chicago, comedian, queer Korean-American

The worst part about last night is that most of America will be just fine. You will go back to your jobs, your happy hours, and your Sunday brunches. After the shock of white mediocrity wears off, you will adapt and adjust and continue to lie to yourselves about how far we've come on the issues of racism, misogyny, and homophobia.

Most of America is shocked about how many people voted for Donald Trump. To me, that's the most offensive part of this. Wake up: An overwhelming part of this country is hateful and dumb, and the rest of it is willfully ignorant. If you are not a woman, a person of color, or queer, your life will be unchanged as the rest of us tremble with the thought of fighting for our civil rights in 2016.


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