Safety, Unity at Risk Following U.S. Presidential Election

By John Frame, Class of 2017

By John Frame, Class of 2017

The world knows how it turned out. While Democratic nominee Secretary Hillary Clinton won the popular vote for the US Presidential election on Tuesday evening, the Republican nominee, business mogul Donald J. Trump was declared the victor via the Electoral College process on Tuesday evening. There was no controversy around ballot counting and hacking (although there were numerous accounts of African-American voter suppression across numerous states). Whether satisfied with the outcome or not, Mr. Trump won based on our electoral process.

However, in the three days following the election, outcry from both sides of the ticket poured into our streets and across our social media platforms. The message was overwhelmingly clear: safety, unity, and identity are at risk. Liberal voters took to the streets to protest outside numerous Trump landmarks across Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. And on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Hillary Clinton supporters shared heartfelt stories of disappointment and fear.  

On Wednesday, Insanul Ahmed, senior editor at music knowledge-sharing blog Genius, published a lengthy list of “tweets about racist episodes POC [sic] are facing now that Trump is our President Elect” to his Twitter account. The disturbing accounts detail verbal abuse, sexual harassment, and racist, homophobic, and misogynistic slurs. Many express fear and sadness for what they have experienced or witnessed.

On Thursday evening here at home, the Booth Chicago Women in Business student group, along with the African-American MBA Association and OUTreach LGBTQ student group, hosted a post-election discourse at The University of Chicago Pub. Nearly 40 students from all backgrounds (yet not many outright Republican or Donald Trump supporters) attended the session where heated dialogue about the state of our country gave way to strong personal feelings of anger and confusion.

The message was overwhelmingly clear: safety, unity, and identity are at risk.

Students were joined by Director of Diversity Affairs, Jessica Jaggers, and Deputy Dean for Alumni, Corporate Relations, and the Full-time MBA Program, Stacey Kole, who spoke of the need for “honesty and civility” even as we grieve and ponder. The group hypothesized how the election turned out as such, sharing anecdotes while sipping complimentary frosty beverages as a brief respite from heated discourse. There was no immediate relief in the air.

As the world continued to turn, Friday brought a frightening report of African-American freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania waking in the early morning hours to find themselves being added against their will to a GroupMe chat called "Mud Men." The group chat contained overtly racist content related to lynchings and slavery. While hackers from as far away as Oklahoma have been blamed, the news spread quickly across media outlets and university communities who expressed outrage and sent sentiments of support and love to victims.

When we zoom out, we see that many of the culprits committing acts of hatred are under the age of 18, with some as young as five in our grammar school communities. Americans have asked, “How is this happening?” It seems that there are currently more questions than answers. How will our elected officials all across this land respond to these acts of hatred and division? How will we heal and move forward when the wounds we’ve opened are so raw and so very deep?  

John thinks this is a time for all Americans to be more politically active and aware to ensure our president is really a leader for all people.