Photography and Text by Grace Tang, Copyright 2016
Before I was assigned this project, I had never paid attention to the American election. Elections to me are just something in a book or on TV because in China, we don’t have elections and politics seems only to matter to those who work with government. I learned about the 2016 election from TV, the newspaper and Facebook. I was surprised by how many people were involved in this long process, especially in my home college, Bryn Mawr College. People gathered to watch the presidential debate in the campus center, cheering for Hilary Clinton and sniffing at Donald Trump. Me, personally, I treated this election more as a show rather than a serious presidential election, too many scandals and too many attacks on both sides. On election day, I went to register at an office in Norristown with my friend because her voter registration had some problem. This was her first time to vote. She was so passionate about it that she did not want to miss this important moment. Although she is a Hong Kong and American citizen, she had never lived in the States until she came to college. Therefore, it’s hard for her to connect herself with her second home country, U.S. She did not care about the presidential election that much until Donald Trump came to the stage. She said this time, as an American citizen, she needed to be responsible for her country, voting for the right president. I went to the poll station with her in the town of Bryn Mawr. It was not allowed to take photos inside, so I just sat there and watched people come and go. People came from different places. They waited in long lines and talked to people around them. Some parents also brought their kids, so they can experience the election although they can’t vote. College students like us who voted the first time in their life were jumping and shouting after they handed in their vote. During the time I sat there, I realized voting in this country is not just about numbers and politics. It is about belief and self-expression. I left the poll station to take some photos from outside. I saw a man walking to the poll station with his walking aids, slowly and gradually. I took a photo of him, because I believed it represents American’s willingness to be involve in the election process.
I went to watch the election that night in Campus Center with my friends. The result came out after 1 am. I could feel people’s depression at that time. They were crying and hugging and couldn’t believe their nightmare had come true. The next day in class, everyone was just sitting around and nobody wanted to talk. Everyone’s eyes looked so tired from last nights crying. One of our classmates started the conversation. She kept trying to make herself not cry. She said as a marginal group, she was so afraid of what might happen to her in the future. She felt so helpless. Sitting in the classroom as a non-American citizen, I felt shocked. Last time, I saw people crying like this was in 2008. China’s Wenchuan earthquake, when thousands of people died. I did not like Trump and did not want a person like him to be president of a country, but I did not feel sad or depressed when he became the president, maybe because I am not an American citizen or maybe because I believe in American’s political system, constraining a president’s power. That night, I talked with my friend about this. She said the reason that she was so sad and can’t help crying was that the values and believes she held for years was corrupted.
I went to the protest near Philadelphia’s City Hall – the next Saturday after the election. Thousands of people gathered in Dilworth plaza. They walked around City Hall, shouting slogans against Trump’s statements about nasty women, immigrants, racism and disabilities. There were different kinds of people involved in the protest; families, couples, disabilities, African American, and even pets. They used the process of organization to express their dissatisfaction with the new president elect and his unreasonable policies.
About The Author: Grace Tang is a Freshman enrolled at Bryn Maur College, Philadelphia. Class of 2020.