The First Amendment of the United States grants freedom of speech and freedom of expression without fear of being detained for commenting on politically sensitive issues. This is not always the case in my motherland of Uganda. I have been living in the U.S. for almost a year, having flown in on December 17, 2015 (I have been counting the days to mark my anniversary). I am an international student on an F1 visa (for non-immigrant students) who came to participate in the American education system.
During my stay I have come to appreciate the fact that of all places I landed in Kansas — Lawrence to be exact. I have had the greatest experiences with the college and The Campus Ledger. Everything has been considerably great except for the political developments which greatly affected me both emotionally and psychologically, with the latest being the announcement of Trump winning the presidential election. If I was one of the people who voted for Hillary, I am pretty sure I would be part of the hundreds chanting “not my president” in the streets.
I know you are wondering how this affects me as an international student, an alien in this land who’s far away from home and ineligible to vote. Seeing how the “silent majority” turned out to vote in huge numbers, allowing Trump to win Kansas and other states makes me feel uncomfortable with the people surrounding me (apart from people I know who are grieving for Hillary Clinton’s loss). Trump won Kansas with 57%, followed by Clinton with 36% of the vote. The fact that voters knew exactly what it would mean to put Donald Trump in the Oval Office, that he was endorsed by the KKK, that he doesn’t respect women and above all, failed to speak out against violence and acts of racism.
I would love to learn and finish my academic pursuit, earn a Master’s degree and then head back home to do my country a service. However, my hope is shrinking. I am worried and feel insecure. In Uganda, we had a dictator named Idi Amin. He had similar points of view just like the president-elect and I can tell you, people like that are unpredictable. It took only one day for Idi Amin to go to bed and wake up with a vision of closing Uganda’s borders to Asians, issuing an ultimatum of 24 hours for all of them to flee the country. Most of the citizens had been born in Uganda during the construction of the Uganda railway, an express line that was built earlier during the colonial era. Their parents and grandparents had been brought to the country as cheap manual labor to construct the rail expressway and later settled in the region. As a result of the ultimatum and forceful exit out of Uganda, many of these innocent citizens lost their lives and faced brutality caused by ignorant Ugandans vandalizing and looting their property. The devastation that came up with the abrupt developments by the Ugandan government on Indians resulted in numerous cases of suicides as many lost hope.
I was born black and I am proud of that. I love people regardless of color and to my luck, have never been treated poorly. That, however, does not comfort me anymore. I worry for the future. As safe as I might be, given the fact that I am a legal alien in the U.S., I worry for all undocumented immigrants, for their future and families that may be torn apart. Nor am I sure I will be able to survive the hatred that comes from white nationalists. I was glad to come to the U.S., the land of opportunity where anything can happen (like Trump becoming president) but I am loathing the feeling in the air, the disunity in America and the preaching of hatred. Where is the love? When are we ever going to wake up from the nightmares of hate?