Written by: Jasmine Figueroa
With COVID-19 still on the rise, the tension of the election and its aftermath, and midterms from my classes on Zoom, the least I could say is that I am exhausted! When the pandemic first began, I was scared that I wasn’t going to afford the apartment I was about to lease. My partner and I had just gotten the news that Governor Jay Inslee was locking Washington State down, and in turn, my partner was fired from his kitchen job. We shed plenty of tears, but in the end, we knew we needed to take immediate action in order to provide for ourselves. My partner made his way into the fast-food industry, and he insisted that I did not need to get a job myself. I could stay quarantined, and he promised that we could make ends meet without my help. Thankfully, our prayers were answered, and we moved into our apartment without any difficulty.
Looking back on it, I genuinely believed that the worst of our troubles were over. We were lucky enough to get our stimulus checks and it seemed as though the restrictions would be mostly lifted by the summertime which unfortunately never happened. Another divide was making itself apparent in the U.S. as many people began insisting that COVID was a hoax, and they refused to wear masks. Some of the rich and famous decided to hold parties filled with hundreds of people. It took a huge toll on my mental health to witness such carelessness and selfishness.
I couldn’t fathom how false information on COVID could be passed around so easily and blown up to such proportions by celebrities, politicians, the current president, and those that we rely on for factual information the most. Not to mention the countless celebrities, public figures, and various news outlets who added fuel to the “COVID is a hoax” fire. What broke the straw on the camel’s back for me was the negative reaction to Black Lives Matter. Human rights and equality should not be up for debate, and yet people across our nation want to argue against the importance of this movement. Once again, President Trump was there to spread hatred, and he treated the Black community and all of us other minorities as if we were a joke. At that moment in time, I only felt two emotions: anger and anxiety. My mental health had spiraled out of control. From the moment Donald Trump became president in 2016, I knew that the 2020 election had to get him out of office before an extra four years of damage could be done.
With my first year as a full-time transfer student at UW going at full speed, I had a hard time focusing on being a student when I only thought of my role as a Mexican-American citizen. The thought of the election, voter suppression, and the actions of white supremacists were weighing me down. I couldn’t help but consume copious amounts of negative social media for hours at a time, and I’d overanalyze people’s nasty thoughts in the comments section. I had anxiety every single day thinking about how cruel people in this world could be.
Finally, election day had reared its ugly head. My body and mind felt numb. I knew that at this point, whatever views the American people had weren’t going to change, and that could quite possibly lead to Trump’s second term. I was afraid people would turn away from Biden because he is not a perfect candidate, but at least he could guarantee that he would take action with the thought of all Americans in mind.
I skipped class knowing that I was going to be dead weight for the entirety of my lectures. My anxiety came to a halt, but that caused my overworked brain to short circuit. I knew the election results wouldn’t be determined that night, so all my worrying ceased, and after a good day’s rest, I was able to perform better in my classes as I patiently awaited the final count. When it was determined that Joe Biden was projected to be the next president of the United States, I felt normal again. I wouldn’t say I felt relief; I just felt average. I was no longer facing an overwhelming mental hardship, but I wasn’t celebrating either. With Trump out of the office, I didn’t have to feel on edge about his next moves.
However, his fall from the throne did not equate to the disappearance of white supremacists. They continue to attack people of color, they still have power, and they feel empowered knowing that the U.S. could have a president like Trump. Sexism and a failed justice system are still in place to keep women oppressed. The disabled community does not have the accommodation they deserve. The list goes on, and on, and on. While a major historical change has happened in the United States, the fight is still far from over. Even with Biden as president, we must realize that as American citizens, we are the only ones who can make the real change happen.