By Zachary Varela, Staff Writer
// At the end of almost each month, on a Friday, I somberly make my way to the entrance of 209 and pick up a hefty stack of papers. I slowly make my way to a preassigned location carrying my Blueprints. Subtle discontent radiates from my being as I distribute doses of liberal propaganda to an already liberal community.
Adding to my dismay, being a Republican and sitting slightly to the right on the political spectrum, is that I am now being closely associated with our forty-fifth president. The situation that I and other like-minded students find ourselves in isn’t a pleasant one, to say the least. We are vastly underrepresented in our community and are constantly being judged for not holding the same political and social beliefs as the majority of the Bay Area.
With the recent inauguration of Donald J. Trump as our president, I, more than ever, am being ridiculed and harassed for my political stance. But a connection between President Trump and what I would consider to be the vast majority of Republicans is slight. For readers who are too politically unconscious or are blinded by extreme progressive ideals, I wish to point out that Trump is not a typical republican or conservative. He was registered to the Independence Party in 1999, and in 2001 registered as a Democrat. Though upholding some values closely associated to the Republican Party, President Trump is all over the board when it comes to political parties. When broken down, Trump was an opportunist who wanted change, and the easiest way for him to achieve the change he wanted was through the Republican party.
If this is a difficult distinction, I feel that it is best you move onto another article. There is no reason in upsetting you. Blind anger and prejudice will only further increase the divide that our nation is experiencing. For readers who are at least able to acknowledge that there is some validity to the above point, I wish to share my experience with a Ted Talk I recently listened to.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian novelist, spoke about the threat of stereotyping in her talk titled The Danger of a Single Story. She discussed how when she moved to the United States for college, her roommate was surprised to find how fluently she spoke English, as well as how educated and well-off she was despite being African. At the time, it didn’t make sense to Adichie why her roommate would automatically assume those things. After years of pondering, she devised the theory of the ‘single story.’ People are around the world are sometimes unfortunate enough to only hear one story about other people, objects, and occurrences. These people give no consideration to other stories or points of view that could help define whole cultures and races. Adichie’s roommate only heard the stereotype that Africans were uneducated and poor. She’d never heard an alternate story which would have led her to believe that wealthy people lived in Africa- people that can attend universities and are capable of going on to run successful businesses. Examples of ‘single stories’ are limitless and are an underlying cause of the massive issue that is stereotyping.
After listening to Adichie’s talk, I sat and explored my thoughts, piecing together how true the notion of the ‘single story’ could be. Not only could her words be applied to how different countries’ citizens view each other, but also to how Americans see one another.
The immense divide caused by our two party political system has only grown larger in the wake of the 2016 election. Liberals and Democrats across the country are in a monstrous uproar and are apt to take their dismay out on undeserving people in unsettling ways. I have seen videos of people being forcibly removed from their cars and beaten on the street because they voted for Trump. I have watched the news as people terrorize personal property and topple cars simply because the political views of others do not align with their own. This feud that anti-Trump people have taken up against all Republicans and conservatives sickens and dismays me. With all this talk about how Trump represents nothing more than unconditional hate, I find myself only hearing the ignorant echoes of hypocrisy.
One would argue that those protesting violently comprise only a tiny fraction of our nation. I cannot disagree with that, but the numbers are still alarming. Even stepping aside from the more vigorous and radical forms of protest, the discrimination and discrete hatred expressed toward republicans is still present. Family, friends, and even strangers closely compare almost half of the people in the country to President Trump simply because an individual might identify as a conservative or a Republican. Every time politics is brought up in my household, my mother exclaims that I had “better not have voted for Trump,” worried that I will willingly inherit his undesirable traits or buy into his ideologies. Family friends have blatantly told me that I wouldn’t have been allowed in their house if my ballot had a check mark next to Trump’s name. These oppressive and ridiculous statements rattled me to my core. It’s bewildering how we impede the youth of the country from exploring and experimenting with new ideas; and the fact that so many progressives who preach tolerance are so unaccepting of certain ideas disturbs me.
With Adichie’s talk still resonating within me, I can clearly see what the danger of the ‘single story’ is. Our liberal community, heavily influenced by the liberal media we listen to, is lashing out against conservatives and Republicans from the ivory tower of our liberal niche. This is all due to the ‘single story’ that revolves around Republicans. As I was saying earlier, people can’t seem to recognize that Trump is an ill representation of the Republican party. They take the worst of his qualities and apply them to everyone who’s part of the GOP. All of a sudden, half of the country becomes classless, misogynistic, racist, and homophobic.
These assumptions – these stereotypes and ‘single stories’ – are preventing us from coming together to better the country as a whole. Set your prejudice aside and consider the all of the stories that help build the person you’re interacting with. Really listen to what they have to say before you decide they are wrong. Everyone deserves an opportunity to explain what they believe in and why they believe it; so by granting someone that chance, the possibility for a mature and insightful discourse and compromise becomes an option for all Americans.
Of course liberals and Democrats aren’t the only people to be blamed here. While I see them as the main proponent of division in the past couple months, I speak now to all Americans as equals: part yourself from the ‘single story’ that Adichie was talking about. Learn what it is the opposition has to say and be open to discussion. In the end, we all want the same thing; a more perfect Union.
I believe it is time we try to achieve that together.