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Letter from the editor: election aftermath

abbeyI never thought I’d be saying this, but Donald Trump is the next president of the United States. Even thinking it leaves a sour taste in my mouth. After 16 months of racism, violent rhetoric and misogyny (and that is not even a fraction of his offenses), enough people ended up voting for him to the point he stepped over the 270 mark in the Electoral College. If I could cuss profusely in this piece to demonstrate my anger, I would.

While many people I know are still reeling from the announcement that our next president is going to take the country backwards several decades, I’ve found myself thinking about my mother. Ten years ago, she died from cancer and up until those last few months when she was the sickest, she fought against people like Trump and his supporters. She was an ally and made herself open as a resource for anyone who needed her help. If she were here today, my mother would condemn the bigoted behavior that Trump has normalized with his election.

The state of the country and the violence being perpetrated against marginalized groups has me thinking about what she would do in the situation our country finds itself in, and what advice she would give me on how to handle the political climate we find ourselves in.

In the past week, I have given my terrified friends more hugs than I have given all semester. I have seen the effect this has on my professors, some of whom cried along with us in their classes. My anxiety got so bad that I literally felt sick to my stomach and couldn’t eat.  I have tried to tell everyone how much I appreciate and value them because right now, a good chunk of the country has told us we don’t matter. I wonder if the fear we have felt since the election results will ever go away.  And I know the answer is it probably won’t ever truly fade.

What can we do when we feel this way? We fight. We push back against the atrocities that have happened and what could happen in the future. One of my professors who opened a dialogue in our class the day after the election said there are multiple ways we can do this, whether it’s going out into the streets to protest or finding ways to reclaim the language co-opted by Trump and his supporters.  This struck a chord with me because it means there is always a way we can fight back against those who would seek to pin us back. Writing and reporting is the way I can best help.

At The Campanil, we seek to be a platform for the whole of Mills to speak from. Every editor I work with is committed to this mission.  With the turbulent times now and ahead in the future, we want to be a resource for each and every person on campus.  We want to share your stories with the community, both here at Mills and in the wider Oakland area. We want to support your right to speak out. We want to be allies to anyone who feels unsafe or silenced by those who seek to impose violence on you and those you love.  We are here to listen to your needs.

The truth behind all of this is I honestly don’t know what my mother’s advice would be. I never got to know her as an adult. Based on blurry memories of her, though, I know a bit along the lines of what she might say. She’d tell me to remain strong in my convictions, to find a way to harness my voice for good, and to step back and listen when it’s not my place to say anything. She’d want me to be a resource where I’m able. I know we’re facing even worse than usual circumstances, but I firmly believe all of us at Mills and everyone fighting back against Trump’s brigade of bigots can make a change.

I’m going to use the written word to do that. Hopefully that will be something useful to the community, and something that would make my mother proud.