By Frenz Cabison
It was Wednesday morning, 7:19 AM to be exact. I entered the familiar gates of the school, but the atmosphere that met me felt unusual. It was silent and empty. My dad who dropped me off a little bit earlier than usual thought that classes might have been cancelled.
Getting out off the car, I went to the cafeteria to do my last minute reading for my AP Government, which I failed to do the night before as I was distracted by the commotion caused by my eleven-year-old sister in the living room. Not really knowing what was going on, she seemed baffled by things that were strange to her. I tried to explain what electoral votes meant and how the system worked, which proved to be too much for her young mind to absorb. One thing was clear though, and she did not even need a validation. It was clear to her: Trump was winning. Both of us dismissed ourselves from the shocking sight of the poll results.
That Wednesday morning was characterized by silence that provided not solace, but discomfort and awkwardness. The quietude was sickeningly deafening. Still trying to grasp what happened last night, I went on to read until a conversation diverted my attention away. Next thing I knew, my ears were attentively listening to an enraged teacher and a disappointed student discussing the results. Relating to what they both said, I wanted to engage in the discussion as well; however, to focus was hard. To say a word was even harder. Exiting the cafeteria, the day went on.
On the way to my 6th period class, which was the first period of that day, I heard people talking about the news — one girl even screamed outside the library. My fellow AP Literature students were going to start the day with a dreaded timed write (thanks, Mrs. Rubin!), and usually before a timed write, we bemoan about how our grades are about to go down. We were agitated in those moments, but not for that reason. Everyone was discussing how Trump was the newly elected president. Apprehension and disgust filled the room and were clearly felt by all with the exception of maybe one or two people.
Everyone around me pretty much knew what happened. Trump triumphed over Clinton. Additionally, the Republicans won the US Senate and US House. Trump was going to be the 45th President of the United States as Hillary Clinton failed to break the glass ceiling to be the first ever female president of the country. While everyone knew what happened, how and why it happened seemed unclear. Even now, several days later, people are still processing the results.
After the first two periods of the day, I went to Ms. Amos’s room, the same teacher I heard venting in the cafeteria earlier that day. Her room exuded the same vibes that I had been feeling throughout the day: awkward although there were people chattering. Talking to other students, she welcomed me with a smile. Ms. Amos, a Spanish teacher, expressed that she did not expect Trump to win, but was not surprised. Known for her optimism, her mood was characteristically light, but there was something distinctly different about it. It was ineffable. She remarked that she trusted Clinton more since she had more experience. She acknowledged that Clinton was not perfect, Clinton, but for her, was the better candidate.
Ms. Amos was not the only one who was disappointed with the results. Mr. Gold courteously asked if he could be given an extra day to process the outcome of the election before answering questions about it. Even on Thursday, though, he was still in great shock, and was mostly at a loss for words. Describing the elections as one of the most unique he has ever participated in, he hopes for unity despite having a newly elect president who seemed to be a catalyst of the polarization of this nation.
I noticed on Wednesday that Ms. Coolish was wearing all black. Every Wednesday, Ms. Coolish and Mr. Carlos wear pink. Last Wednesday was a different story. She told the class that the reason behind it was her sadness that Trump has won the elections.
My teachers were not the only one with evident sadness and disappointment. My classmates were either very vocal about their disappointment and disgust or were still at a loss for words. There was no in-between. Not everyone felt the same way though.
I also got Snaps from another classmate who was ecstatic about Trump’s victory. Not knowing if it was just sarcastic or genuine, I could not help but judge. Half of me wanted to throw shade back. Half of me tried to comprehend. They were entitled to their opinions, and I respect that. Do I agree with them? Definitely not. Am I cool with it? Not at all. I did not want them to be ostracized, however, like the way the person they support marginalize minorities. Our political views and beliefs differ from one another. While I respect that, I just do not see where they are coming from.
To better understand, I sat down with another classmate who supports Trump, who requested anonymity. It was challenging not to judge her without hearing her side, but it was clear that we were not on the same page. The reasons why she supported Trump were because of “his immigration plan” and that, she hopes “he can stabilize the economy.” Asked about what she wants Trump to do in the next four years, she responded that she wants immigration control and having the veterans be able to acquire assistance from the government. Furthermore, she wanted economic stabilization and more jobs. I would try not to attack her, but I would undoubtedly attack her ideas sooner or later. I still do not get her rationale, but I had to respect that.
Most of the students here could not vote as most of us are not eighteen yet. We were told that the future lies in the hands of the youth, yet our future ironically was determined by those eighteen and above who did and did not vote. If you are eligible to vote but you did not, in a way, you still voted. You chose not to have your vote count. It still made a difference because of your abstention. That vote could have been the turning point. The outcome of the election is going to change millions of lives for the next four years. This country has decided, and Trump is the next president. For those who belong to marginalized groups — immigrants, women, people of color, and others — we mourn. For others, they celebrate.
That government book that I was reading that morning would probably not be the same next year. Sooner or later, in every US History and Government book, a section or maybe even a chapter will be added detailing Trump’s presidency. Who will read it? The youth. Whether it is just another bad chapter of history, or if it will be one of the best (most likely, not… but I hope that it will miraculously be), things will not be the same. We might go back to the struggles of the ‘60s. Who knows?
Initially, Mr. LoPresti assigned me to write about the results of the elections, which he wanted to be posted as soon as possible. Before the announcement of the winner, I already anticipated Clinton to win that I even wrote a rough draft where I could just include some people’s insights afterwards. I thought it was going to be easy, but things did not go as planned. I was demoralized by the idea that I had to restart. More importantly, I was frustrated and even reluctant to continue with the assignment. Yet I had to, not for my grade, but because I have the obligation to speak for those who are afraid and worried about the imminent perils. It is my goal, not as a journalist, but as a fellow human being to empower the people around me who feel as if their lives are about to be over.
We never know what will happen for the next four years, and throughout this election, we know that the worst-case scenarios are possible. And even worse, it is just the start.
In times like this, however, we must come together and be united now more than ever. Light illuminates the most when it is the darkest. We just have to spark it.
And here, is a message of hope…
… to the African-American community. Your lives matter.
… to all the women, Your body, your choice.
… to all the Muslims. Strip not your hijabs, but together, strip away the hesitation to not act. You’re not a terrorist.
… to the LGBTQ community. The only conversion therapy needed is not the conversion of your sexuality, but the conversion of apprehension into a voice. Love wins.
… to my fellow immigrants who feel like their fortunes in the land of opportunities will change after Tuesday night. We will not build a wall but a solid ground as a foundation of our journey.
… to the minorities that on a daily basis try to overcome the struggles of being ostracized. Your impact has major implications. You have the power.
… to everyone who feels unsafe, disgusted, and fearful. We got this.
… to Trump supporters. God Bless you. Just know that political views are not the same as racism, sexism, and other -isms. Respect. Just because your candidate win, does not give you the right to disrespect other fellow humans.
… to the human race, polarized by race, sex, age, and other divisions that keep us separate from one another. May we still be the United States of America, not Divided States of America.
… to Panem…I mean the United States of America. May the odds be ever in our favor.