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Trump's Victory Didn't Surprise Me. I Ran Away From The US To Escape The Bigotry

10/11/2016 10:17 | Updated 10 November 2016
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

I wish that I could say that I share the same shock and disbelief as the rest of the world about Tuesday's US election result, but having grown up in the swing state of Ohio, this is just a stark reminder of what I left behind, and just how little has changed since I got out nearly a decade ago.

I remember a close friend's mom once pleading to me, "you need to leave, and you need to promise me that you will never move back." So, I did. I got as far away from small-town America as I could and began a new life in London, valuing the city for its diversity and global connectivity.

I gave myself a swift pat on the back for putting so much distance between myself and the Fox News-loving bigots back home. Misplaced pride has a funny way of catching up with you, though, and I've never been more humbled than when I woke up to the news that the UK had decided to leave the European Union.

The racism and xenophobia I had worked so hard to get away from was suddenly tearing apart the country that I had come to consider my safe haven. The UK had fallen victim to the same fear mongering used to divide my community back home.

I wanted to believe over the course of the US election that somehow my country would learn from Brexit. That they would take notice of the rise in hate crime, the plummeting pound, and the divisions forming within British society.

I will never forget the eight sleepless hours I spent on Tuesday night, though, watching on my phone as the map of the US slowly bled red for Trump. In that moment, I realised that no matter how far I travelled away from home, I'd never truly be able to escape its influence. And while I imagined this moment would fill me with anger, I was instead filled with an overwhelming sense of pity for those driven to this point of madness.

I can't imagine what it must be like to feel so hopeless that you'd be willing to elect a leader who promises that by dehumanising immigrants, by controlling women, by silencing the Black Lives Matter movement, by stripping the rights of the LGBT community, by mocking those who are different, by locking up those who disagree, that somehow your own personal suffering will come to an end.

These are the types of messages that only make sense to people who have let themselves be consumed by fear. At the age of 17, I chose to reject this mentality and left Ohio in search of a community which embraced diversity and progress. Now, at 25, I'm left watching helplessly as this fear spreads far beyond my small American town. The UK and the US have voted for a new society built on fear, and although I am now out of places to run to, I still refuse to let myself be consumed by it.

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