Chris Crowder: America is greater when it's stronger together

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 - 9:39pm

After what seemed like an eternity, the election is over. All I have to say is that this country is more careless than I thought. About half the country is utterly distraught about who will take office in January, while the other half is cheering — some either apathetic or unaware of what this result really means. A man who has no empathy for minorities, LGBTQ people or women will be the leader of the United (Divided) States of America. But even though the electoral process is over, more change is due.

Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric has riled up millions to respond to hate speech. He even has the support of the Ku Klux Klan. Let that sink in, people who don’t think this appointment is a big deal or think it doesn’t change anything. While many share the racist heart of Trump, perhaps the scarier group of people are Trump voters who disregarded that his words are hateful and his lies and webs of deception make him completely unfit to serve as the leader of the United States. Sure, people have problems with Hillary's emails and Benghazi, among other things, and those concerns are valid. But with her lifelong career in politics and knowledge of how government runs, would you really want a man to take office whose only answer to the problem of police brutality is "law and order?"

I have family members who are Trump supporters, and this message is for not just them and others who voted for him, but for Liberals and Libertarians, too. This is for everyone. I'll admit, I've lost respect for people based on their voting preferences. I’ll try not to judge, but to give everyone I agree and disagree with a clean slate. The people I oppose need love and acceptance just as much as those whose views I agree with.

We need to move forward with an attitude of love and empathy as Americans. After Trump discriminated against an entire religion and the people who follow it, mocked people who are disabled and assaulted women, the media has been nothing but messages of hate being plastered on television screens. The viewer takes a stand against Trump, shrugs it off or supports his messages or apologies. And even though I am a biracial man, I'm speaking as an American when I say I simply could not trust a man who doesn't have solutions or a capacity to empathize with people's needs and concerns.

There's so much hate that we see not just inside Trump, but in violence, racism and discrimination of all kinds. Whether Trump would have won or lost, the ugly head of racism and other topics would have been revealed and here to deal with anyway. The people who don't believe it exists probably haven't been affected by systematic racism and how it affects minorities across the country. Those who argue for freedom of religion as a right that is amended in the Constitution might believe that it is only true for certain religions, with some exceptions. Trump supporters may agree with the Constitution in bits and pieces, favoring the right to bear arms but not remembering that religious freedom includes Islam as well.

People on both sides can inform and debate with one another, but chances are their minds will not be changed. Think about it. Think about the chances of somebody flipping from Democrat to Republican, especially in this election. We need solidarity now. People of all races and religions and identities need to stand together the best we can. It's the only way we can mesh with one another. And who knows, though we all come from different backgrounds, individuals and groups can find similarities and common ground.

“Saturday Night Live” performed a “Black Jeopardy” skit with Tom Hanks a few weeks ago, featuring Hanks as an older Trump supporter competing against two Black contestants to answer questions regarding the Black experience. As Hanks began to answer questions correctly, the skit revealed that at a basic level, Trump supporters and some Black people may not be so different after all. Yes, the ideas they have may be drastically different, but there is chance for connection and friendship.

Not everyone can achieve this, however. Some people are too close-minded and stuck in their ways. But if we treat people — whether they be strangers, acquaintances or friends — with the hope that we can find common ground with them and grow a constructive relationship, then the country will become a better, more unified place.

There's a lot to do in this country that no president can fix. Change in attitudes of acceptance start at the individual, and acceptance should be taught. It’s more than a matter of political correctness. It's just that hate has been under the microscope and so visible because of constant media cycles — the 24/7 news coverage. A move toward making America greater requires being stronger together. It starts with loving our neighbors and extending positive values toward everyone we meet. It starts with realizing that we are now in a crisis. Everyone is scared and feels alienated and left out — including Trump supporters. We must remember that they are people with hearts and feelings and hopes, too.

To those who say that this doesn’t matter or that people are being too dramatic, step into their shoes. Welcome to a country that has about half of its population that doesn’t care about your safety, well-being or anxieties. Open your eyes to see that this problem is bigger than yourself. This is what adversity feels like. Millions are coming out of the woodwork, being overt and blatant in their racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia. But the people who say that this doesn’t affect them, look around you at those who are different than you. Will you stand in solidarity or say “I don’t care?”

Chris Crowder can be reached at ccrowd@umich.edu