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Shahrin Azim

One year after the presidential election, New Yorkers on how it changed their lives

It’s been almost a year since the presidential election that defied conventional wisdom around U.S. politics.

Afterward, as a number of pollsters, political pundits and journalists took stock of their disconnect with the country’s electorate, some communities celebrated while others across the country grew anxious about their future. New York City, which for the first time had hosted both Democratic and Republican election rallies and had heavily voted for Clinton, saw crowds take to the street in protest.

Now, as the nation remains politically polarized and the Trump presidency makes headlines for an investigation into his campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia, the memory of election night remains vivid on both sides of the political aisle.

As the investigation continues and communities organize for solidarity, New Yorkers from a range of political backgrounds reflected on their electoral choices and the year that was.

Shahrin Azim appears at a community center in Brooklyn, New York. Photo by Pavni Mittal

Shahrin Azim, student

I have become more aware of my identity and how I appear. Every single day I have to prove to people I am not a threat, and we aren’t violent or trying to convert people or bring Sharia law. When the Vegas shooting happened, or any such incident, I am always thinking, “Please let it not be a Muslim person.” There’s always a double standard between white bodies and black and brown bodies. As a community we are back to square one [after a terrorist attack in New York]. They will use it against us. We live in New York and pride ourselves on our diversity, but we don’t stick to that.

Lazer Zinger appears at his store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Photo by Pavni Mittal

Lazer Zinger, shop owner

I believe that the Creator takes care of his world and doesn’t matter who the President is. Other people think differently and I am not arguing with them. I believe that there will come a day when everyone will see who is in charge of the world. I have faith things will be okay in the end.

Antonio Alarcon

Antonio Alarcon holds a sign reading, “Undocumented & unafraid.” Photo by Pavni MIttal

Antonio Alarcon, DACA recipient

It’s been a tough year with a lot of roller coaster moments. I am concerned about my other peers who are unfortunately undocumented and are in race for deportation. Now that DACA is terminated we don’t know how our data will be used. Since I am outspoken, I am concerned about the retaliation against my family members. But I have seen the resilience of my community which is no longer separated on issues. We have become one.

Student Elena Hatib appears in Washington Square Park in New York, New York. Photo by Pavni Mittal

Elena Hatib, student

It’s very hostile. If you tell someone you’re a moderate Republican, they will assume you’re the alt-right or the worst of the worst. There is a very small percentage of people in that category but they have the loudest voice. It’s the same on the left. I think that’s something that college campuses have to get better at. Maybe if you sit down and listen you will respect their opinion. You won’t agree, but I think there needs to be that push and it needs to start with professors encouraging that in classroom, no matter what their political leanings are.

Marni Halasa is running for city council in District 3 in New York City. Photo by Pavni Mittal

Marni Halasa, figure skater and politician

It was like the day after 9/11. It was almost as if someone had died. I teach figure skating and I had to counsel a lot of students. I also have a protest consulting group for which I don’t get paid. After Trump got elected, I was working more – I was protesting four to five times a week. This is a time for political resistance and people have gotten more politically engaged. I feel time is of the essence and there’s an urgency that wasn’t there before. I am now running for City Council.

Rico Fonseca stands with his paintings in the West Village in New York City. Photo by Pavni Mittal

Rico Fonseca, artist

I hitchhiked from Lima, Peru and came to America. I contribute something to America and don’t turn against it. I am sorry about how Latin people feel. But I don’t have to be against Donald Trump just to be on their side. I behave myself, I don’t create violence or corruption, for the sake of being in this country.

angela shef

Angela Shef stands in the store where she works in Brighton Beach, New York. Photo by Pavni Mittal

Angela Shef, Russian immigrant

I watch Fox. What do I believe? I did vote for Trump. Would I vote for Trump if there was a different candidate, if there was someone other than Hillary? Probably not. I just didn’t want to vote for Hillary for a variety of reasons. But the reason I voted for Trump – there was no other candidate.

Shakib Farah

Shakib Farah appears at the restaurant where he works in New York, New York. Photo by Pavni Mittal

Shakib Farah, chef

There was chaos and the whole Somalian community was in shock. [The travel ban] was a ban from opportunity. There was a lot more scrutiny, whether it is medical, cultural, educational tourism. We are struggling too.

Matt Pasini stands on a train platform in Brooklyn, New York. Photo by Pavni Mittal

Matt Pasini, actor

It has definitely separated me from a lot of friends and family. My parents are Trump supporters and I am a queer person of color who is also transgender and they don’t grasp the idea how that is contradictory. [After the election] I got increased hate, as I predicted.

Scott LoBaido stands with his truck, which he painted, in Staten Island, New York. Photo by Pavni MIttal

Scott LoBaido, artist

I had a studio in East Village in 1995, but [now] I am not welcome. That’s the irony of the politically correct storm. The art world is the most open-minded, tolerant in the world, unless you happen to be a Republican from Staten Island who doesn’t pronounce your r’s properly! That’s bias right there. My work has been desecrated before. It doesn’t hurt me. They burn it down, I put another one — bigger and bolder.

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