Making the American Immigrant at Home Again


Making the American Immigrant at Home Again

Illustration: Akshita Monga/Arré

On the day of the US presidential election, my local movie theatre had announced that it would be hosting CNN election coverage on the big screen throughout the night. There would be separate Republican (Red) and Democrat (Blue) sections so as to avoid post-election murder, manslaughter, and mayhem. I had campaigned furiously for Hillary Clinton in her bid for presidency because of the controversy surrounding whether Donald Trump was an actual human being.

It had already been an exciting day. Femen activists had stormed Donald Trump’s polling station bare-chested, chanting, “Grab your balls, out of our polls.” I too had stormed bare-chested into my Trump-supporting co-worker’s cubicle, holding in my hand an article that refuted the whole Hillary emails business in order to convince him to change his vote. Another co-worker had stormed into my office after noticing the Hillary bumper sticker on my car to show me a GIF of Donald Trump on a tricycle being chased by Hillary Clinton in a tank. A pregnant woman in Colorado had voted on her way to the hospital to give birth. Susan B Anthony’s grave was covered with “I voted today” stickers. The cemetery had extended its hours to accommodate all the stickers. was up. And in the other camp, Donald Trump had been caught sneaking a peek at his wife’s vote and had accused her of voter fraud.

As the counting began, we all sank into our plush leather theatre seats with our alcoholic beverages. Right off the bat Trump won Indiana and Kentucky and Hillary won Vermont. Somehow Hillary was leading in Texas. The entire theatre gasped in joy.

And then, things went downhill from there. Trump won Alabama. He was up by 80,000 votes in Florida. The old woman next to me declared that if Hillary lost, she was going to start drinking and would continue to drink for the next four years. Then, Hillary lost Michigan. And Wisconsin. And Ohio. And Pennsylvania. The very state I was drinking in. It was over. The country I called home would no longer be mine.

The next year went by fast and predictable. America started burning. Hate incidents surged. There was anti-Semitic graffiti on hiking trails. Jewish schools received bomb threats, Nazi flyers were stuffed into residential mailboxes, and white supremacists marched in American cities, speaking on university campuses. Every morning, when I stepped out, I wondered if today would be the day I face hatred for being brown.

Hoboken, New Jersey voted into office its very first Sikh mayor, Ravi Bhalla, who was also subjected to racist flyers.

And then, a strange thing happened. Americans began to fight back against all the hate. In response to Trump’s Muslim ban, airports were overrun by crowds of protesters. Millions of women marched in solidarity in every major city to protest the misogynist administration. Watching everyday American men and women resist hatred, bigotry, and xenophobia gave us immigrants new hope. We weren’t alone.

I joined the #Resistance. I donated to the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood. I started posting anti-Trump screeds on Facebook until my entire family muted me. I started tweeting again. I bought a new car and covered it with anti-Trump stickers, heated seats, and adaptive cruise control. I visited South Indian buffets every day and ordered gunpowder dosa. I was anti-Trump in flesh and blood.

By the time the morning of November 7, 2017, rolled in, I, with the rest of America, waited apprehensively to see if the Trump effect on America had worn off, awaiting the results of the governor’s race. If at least this time our efforts had yielded something. I started drinking scotch in the afternoon, preparing my gut for another loss, but then Virginia and New Jersey had both elected Democrats as governors. Virginia elected its very first transgender state legislator, Danica Roem, who literally beat a dude calling himself “Chief Homophobe”. A New Jersey woman of Indian origin, Falguni Patel, who was subjected to a horrifically racist “deport” campaign won a seat on the Edison school board. Hoboken, New Jersey voted into office its very first Sikh mayor, Ravi Bhalla, who was also subjected to racist flyers. Democrats swept my local township and mayoral seats. We had succeeded in thwarting the Trump effect.

At this moment in history, one year into the worst mistake Americans ever made since Jersey Shore, Americans seem to have repudiated Trump’s plan for America. They rejected racism and intolerance; they’ve accepted immigrants into their hearts. What they’ve done essentially is rejected Trump’s dystopian vision of making America Great Again, and in doing that they’ve Made America Home Again.