Last Friday night, six friends gathered at a local Italian restaurant to catch up about the week's surprise events and enjoy each other's company. Our dinner was interrupted by a surprise serving of bigotry and intolerance.
A different couple, strangers who had just ended their dinner, approached our table and interjected their opposing views on the election. Never mind the slight arrogance in this overture, but within a few minutes the man felt justified in his use of the "n" word towards one of the 6 friends who is African-American, incorrectly claimed to be paying for the benefits of one of the friends who is a public school teacher via his taxes, and became increasingly aggressive when the 6 friends agreed with his wife that they both should leave.
We are all reading about acts of hate being exhibited throughout the country, and this experience points to the real life fear many have of a Trump presidency. After a long campaign marked by intolerant and misogynistic rhetoric that came from Mr. Trump (the campaigner), will this mentality linger into the administration, or even worse, into policies that will impact a nation that prides itself on being the melting pot of the world?
It is not fully clear how President-elect Trump will help close this divide. In his victory speech, he did offer a nod to unity and we want to give him the benefit of the doubt. We want to because his success will be our success, but it's imperative that this success includes being inclusive. We can only hope that his latest comments will serve as a bridge to a new beginning among all Americans as we enter a new Presidency.
Regardless of your political bent, unifying the country should be at the top of any president’s agenda. Unification is not political correctness, but rather a call for respect for the reality that this great nation is made of immigrants, women, men, of all colors and races. Regardless of outcomes, Presidential elections ultimately impact all Americans. It is with this letter that we hope to highlight that opposing views can stimulate conversation, but should not serve to impose one’s will.
While our experience last Friday could have happened anytime or anywhere, it's a reminder to us that we live with hate and division “in our own backyard.” Hence, change and unification needs to begin in the same place.
The Dalencourt, Mastria & Stack Families.