I’d like to think I’m a pretty lucky guy.
I was born to a highly educated family, who went through everything to get me fed and educated with the highest of standards. I got 3 square meals everyday (more than 3 most of the days), and always had a pretty decent roof over my head. I completed my engineering degree, worked in a Fortune 10 company for 3 years and just recently finished a Masters in Finance from a grad school in upstate New York.
Yeah. I’m pretty sure in the “How’s everyone in the world doing?”, I’d be in the top 20 percent. At least.
Recently, I’ve been searching for a job in the United States, and that’s where my troubles begin. Sure, I’ve just graduated, and it’s been only 2 months. Yet, having said that, it’s a weird time being unemployed. You try your damnedest to figure out a routine out of nothing, network with people and the anxiety & self doubt make your mind a devils workshop. It’s a tough time for me, personally and professionally.
But the epitome of the US Presidential Elections has put all my travails into perspective.
On November 8th, 2016, Mr. Donald J Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States. Campaigning on an aggressive rhetoric of overturning the system, wiping out the establishment and population isolation within the country, perhaps President-elect Trump represented the only viable change (however wrong and horrifying) the middle class voters so desperately wanted.
On November 9th, we received an email from the International Students Office of the University I attend:
“We want to offer reassurance and support to our international students and scholars. Some of the campaign language this year suggests that immigrants and other foreign nationals could become subject to increased scrutiny or targeted immigration action. Concerns are now being expressed about how the incoming administration might impact not only individuals and immigration policy, but also the welcome and climate for foreign nationals in the U.S. We will closely monitor any developments and communicate openly with the University about how any proposed changes could possibly impact our people or institution.”
Not only was that email troubling, but it underscored how concerned the international student population is. Now my school is in New York, a bastion of a progressive agenda and inclusion. Please introspect for a moment, as to how the international and immigrant community feel in states where Mr. Trump won heavily. Think about international students in Oklahoma, a state where Mr. Trump won 65 to 29, do they focus on academics or worry about the the promises of exclusion championed by Mr. Trump’s campaign? Worse still, think about the children born in the country, to parents who immigrated from Central & South America, so that their children could have a good life. Will the child grow up in a society where his parents are marginalized, just because they can’t speak english? Just because they’re not Americans, even though they’re legal immigrants?
What about the black population in the United States, who comprise about 13 percent of the society? I live with an African-American roommate, who was visibly sad about the election results. You might think it was because being female, she wanted Mrs. Clinton to be the first woman President. No, she was gloomy about what her country had become. She was scared about her parents who live in Georgia, which swung toward Mr. Trump by 5 points. Will their covertly racist neighbors, now come out and be openly bigoted? She was scared. Of living and being marginalized in the United States. The country that champions Malcolm X, MLK Jr. and rejoiced President Obama’s election. Let that sink in for a minute.
Who’s going to think about Women now? Will their pro-choice rights be taken away from them?
We hear about these concerns from citizens of lesser developed countries such as in Africa or the less open societies Eastern Europe. We even hear about such stories from developing countries such as India, where the caste system is still entrenched in society. Globally, we have a long way to go, but the US has always been at the forefront of societal change. Particularly of inclusion, encouraged by this quote on the Statue of Liberty:
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
I believe I’m in a position of relative ease. I’m a Hindu male with a degree from one of the best American educational institutions, my family is relatively well to do, I can fall upon them in hard times and I’d like to think India, my country, is and will always be there for me. Sure, it has it’s own problems, but I’m sure I’ll manage.
So the next time you face a problem, pitfall or tragedy, I hope you remember one thing. Think about your problem with relative comparison. Will your problem seem as massive in the next 6 months? How about the next 6 years? I’m sure it will give you a better fighting chance to face it. In any case, I hope people who feel bogged down like this remember that there still are people who will welcome them with open arms.
Writing this, my ordeal to find an employer seems trivial. Because people around me have far more valid and long-lasting concerns that a job. Their concerns are valid because the current political and societal climate threaten their way of life. I hope you feel the same way. I hope it is not as bad as it seems. I hope.