The afternoon was looming crisp under the noon sun. The once golden leaves pouring from the tree limbs pile on the ground and through the phone transgender, Nigerian, activist, musician and psychology student of Brookdale Community College, Gillian Omotoso, clears her throat.
“I’ve been thinking a lot about this,” about what happens next, says the activist. She contemplates the future of our country. The registered democrat often sympathizes with President Trump and his values, but did not vote to reelect the incumbent.
Many voters, of all political affiliation, have been shivering with the questioning of what the future holds in the hands of our democracy from safety, voter fraud, voter suppression and so much more.
“If you are asking me if I feel safer, the answer is, no,” said Mary Pat Angelini, Honorary former NJ Assemblywoman of district 11, in an email interview.
Angelini didn’t explain her thoughts on feeling less safe. However, in that feeling she is not alone.
“What I am happy about is Trump will be out of office,” said Emma Gepner, social researcher and analysis graduate student at Montclair University, in a phone interview.
Gepner has felt unsafe as a Chinese American in the United States. The President described COVID-19 using the racist phrase “kung flu” at a June campaign rally in Tulsa, OK, while also referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus.”
Asian American voters were 43 percent of the record breaking numbers of eligible immigrant voters this election season. A majority Chinese that have been overlooked by democrats, progressives, and republicans alike, said Gepner.
“About one-in-ten people eligible to vote in this year’s U.S. presidential election are immigrants. And most (61%) of these 23 million naturalized citizens live in just five states,” said in a recent study by Pew Research Center.
Gepner feels Americans shouldn’t vote for someone solely because of their gender or race or any other ideological factors of self.
“People mistake acknowledging privilege with actually using it,” she said. The research student emphasizes the importance of knowledge, reading, and understanding candidates for their actions that best address the needs of the people.
America’s aloofness of Asian diversity, Japanese interment camps, imperialism and colonization of Vietnam, and one of the largest lynchings in U.S. history, The 1871 Chinese Massacre, is a dangerous ignorance to hold as the country attempts to embark on antiracist values to find loving in America’s centuries of continual violence against black people, Gepner said.
Where the social researcher and analysis graduate student feels Trump is a social, political, power threat to our globe, Angelini, says Biden poses a threat to working Americans.
“I fear President Biden’s politics will hurt the average worker and hurt businesses across the country. His promises to raise taxes are very bothersome,” she said.
Race has been a large component of this election season. The summer’s global unrest in protest for justice for black lives has created greater tension in law and order and in politics.
She speaks about gentrification as a microcosm of our country. Studying closely the rapid gentrification of Asbury Park, Genera is seeing transient business and disinformation about the geographical safety of the square, mile-wide city.
People think that the West side of the shore town is the bad part of town, said Gepner. The researcher continued saying that it’s simply the part of the city that cannot afford to live in their homes anymore and are being blamed for it.
“I would certainly hope that the Biden administration would stand up for communities of color,” said Angelini. However in the wake of anti-police talks, the New Jersey politician says she is disgusted.
“I have cried seeing the unrest across America. I am frankly disgusted with the anti-police rhetoric that I have seen,” continues Angelini.
Angelini’s husband was on the force for over 25 years and her son currently works for NYPD. The former politician is adamant. Her husband and son have and are risking their lives, she said.
“…overwhelmingly, the law enforcement community is there because they care about their communities,” she said.
Stacey Abrahms, Georgia’s former House Minority Leader, and the New Georgia Project is reason for 800,000 new Georgia voters in communities of color, as said in an article CBS News. Biden won Georgia by a slim 12,670 votes as certified by Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger this week.
A moment Angelini says a good thing. During my years in the Assembly, I was shocked to find the large number of people who did not vote,” she said.
In 2016 100 million eligible voters did not vote, while 251 million were ineligible to vote according to the U.S. Elections Project in a 2016 article by The Washington Post.
“I know Joe Biden will stand for black people, but will not completely abandon law enforcement,” said Omotoso. Even still the complexity of black lives in America and policing is not a black and white solution.
“I think, I don’t know,” said Gillian in a desire to find hope for the future of compassion and accountability.
“I know I’d want to see people come to meet each other’s thoughts on it i some great awakening of conflict and compassion.” Law enforcement is not bad to the core in Omotoso’s eyes although she understands the grievance and fears mounting.
This could lead to a certain amount of leadership from Biden and Harris. Perhaps find a motion to encourage what needs to change in law and order so black lives, lives taken from policing, can be pulled over and not fear for their lives.
Both Biden and Harris gave credit to the black community and their efforts to ensure the victory of the democrat candidate. It is folks like Gepner who question these words and stand watching to see what actions will come.
“And especially those moments when this campaign was at its lowest ebb, the African American community stood up again for me. You’ve always had my back, and I’ll have yours,” said Biden in his victory speech to the nation.
However some feel President Trump has excelled in his presidency.
“The man spent $430 million dollars to fight human trafficking (that alone is why I voted for Trump), he donates every presidential paycheck he receives to different organizations and charities, lowered taxes, created almost 4 million jobs in the U.S., African-American unemployment has recently achieved the lowest rate ever recorded, and the list goes on,” said Julia Rette, 20, secondary education student at The College of New Jersey.
Many of the triumphs President Trump takes credit for, go beyond his efforts beyond his efforts and have been trends before his time as President. For example, as of Sept. 2019 the unemployment rate for black Americans fell as low as 5.5 percent according to BBC in a Sept. article reporting on US Census Bureau statistic.
“Prior to the coronavirus crisis, there had been a consistent downward trend in African-American unemployment under President Trump,” said in the same article.
This trend blends in with decades of systemic racism of black lives in America. Voter suppression is a living history of systemic racism affecting black and immigrant communities today.
“Black Americans are far more likely not to be able to vote at all due to state restrictions barring people with felony convictions from voting,” said the Business Insider in an article this past Sept. This can affect people of any race, but disproportionately does so to black and brown communities.
“I have never personally dealt with voter suppression myself; with that being said, that doesn’t mean I don’t believe it isn’t an issue,” said Rette.
However, Rette says she’s been feeling anxiety about voter fraud.
After a month of anticipating the word of her vote being counted, Rette’s ballot remained at received status. To this day, the ballot is still in received status. The TCNJ student would have felt more comfortable if her ballot read accepted instead. This anxiety is understandable. The mounting pressure on USPS has been prevalent since earlier this summer. Once the ballot goes out, it’s into the hands of a sea of mail, rather than in the hands of folks at the polls.
“This just proves to me that something is wrong with the mail in ballot system,” she said.
This level of worry sprouts with over 30 lawsuits filed by President Trump among other republicans and tweets that support conspiracy of voter fraud. Although most of these lawsuits have been thrown out. The surge of paranoia in the voting system has encouraged the masses to donate upwards to $170 million to President Trump and these lawsuits. A question of what happens next in the swap of power.
“After all the counting is finished and certified. I have no doubt that [President Trump] will concede and lead a smooth transition,” said Angelini.