Kylie Jenner eloquently stated at the beginning of the year that 2016 was the year for “realizing things.” I wonder if she could see the disasters developing before us. Among the many ruthless acts of terrorism all throughout the world, it seems the realities of the Pandora’s box have poured over the West.
June 12: Omar Manteen took a gun, killed 49 people, and wounded 53 others in Orlando at a gay night club. The world analyzed his ethnicity, his religion, and his sexuality.
June 16: British MP Jo Cox was brutally murdered, and the media received criticism for not labelling the white perpetrator a “terrorist.” People asked whether this would have been the case had the perpetrator been a man of colour.
June 23: When the police officer allegedly responsible for the unlawful death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore was acquitted, some asked why only #BlackLivesMatter and argued that #AllLivesMatter. Others called this racist.
June 24: When Britain announced that it would be leaving the EU, the island divided. Racist and xenophobic hate crimes ensued.
November 8: When Trump was elected as president, the Trump HQ yelled “Lock her up” while the other half of the population labelled Trump misogynistic, bigoted, and corrupt.
In light of these events, we criticized, yelled, meme’d, labelled, and further split our world based on race, gender, and sexuality. Social media reinforces our beliefs and further divides us. We smack ideas into each other’s faces without even a glance or a thought; as a result, we do not heal.
As soon as the results of the election were announced, Twitter lit up with a graphic that established what the outcome would have been if only millennials had voted. We immediately labelled the baby boomers as wrong, as racist, and as sexist.
There’s a reason why we called the US election “Brexit 2.0.” This election relays all the same ideas of racism, and ageist remarks, as what the Brexit referendum vote posed, with the added touch of homophobia and bigotry.
We can criticize Donald Trump all we want. We can share the same articles, like each other’s statuses, retweet that same meme thousands of times, and delete our Trump supporter friends off of Facebook; but doing so only further enforces this divide.
We need to use our anger, our motivation, our fear, and look to find rational solutions to combat bigotry. Let’s speak to and level with those who disagree, and try to use our knowledge to unteach the ignorance that we so often see.
I’m not ignoring the fact that Britain voted to leave the EU due to racist ideations. I’m not ignoring that the US population voted to elect a president who views women as objects, with a vice president who believes in conversion therapy.
I do, however, believe that the American voting system has created a platform for people to validate themselves and these ideas — ideas that many have worked hard to lock up and squash in Pandora’s box. But the box has exploded, and it’s not being rebuilt any time soon.
It’s time we begin to understand that we’re all striving for the same things we wanted 50 years ago: workplace equality, ending racism, breaking the glass ceiling, and abolishing homophobia.
It’s time to change the conversation. Our world is far from the accepting place we all believe it should be.
As stated by Naomi Klein: “So let’s get out of shock as fast as we can and build the kind of radical movement that has a genuine answer to the hate and fear represented by the Trumps of this world. Let’s set aside whatever is keeping us apart and start right now.”