On Tuesday night, marginalized groups in America received a clear message from almost 60 million Americans that they did not matter, and that they did not belong here.
Whether those who voted for Donald Trump meant to send that message is immaterial. This is the message that millions of people in marginalized groups received, and a message that all Americans must condemn.
Regardless of how you voted, if this is not your message, prove it.
We stand in solidarity with the peaceful protesters who gathered for the “Not My America” demonstration on Friday. The event showed what strength and dignity, even amid fear, look like.
Those who demonstrated on Friday were not rejecting America. They were rejecting the narrow-minded and dangerous ideas espoused by our president-elect during his campaign.
If you do not believe in an America where hate abounds, prevent it.
Already, crimes of hate and cruelty have been encouraged by the results of this election. It has progressed past rhetoric—the danger is real.
The students, faculty, and community members at Friday’s demonstration rejected that America, and represented one that this election cycle had largely kept us from experiencing—one of compassion and understanding.
They renounced what they fear America could become—a land devoid of humanity and untethered from its founding principles of equality and justice.
If that is not your America, protest it.
The time for mass, peaceful action is now. For students who have been shy about activism, the time is right to join protests and demonstrations.
Every student must gather the anger, energy, and wit that has poured out on social media this week, and take aim at stopping the harm that could be done to our country in the coming years. Whether that energy goes into peaceful protests and demonstrations, a letter writing campaign, or political action, every bit of it is valuable and not one drop of it can be lost.
For all of us who were disappointed and frightened by the outcome of the election, we were united in empathy. For the first time, many people felt on a deeper-than-intellectual level what a Trump victory meant to marginalized groups.
Keep those feelings.
We cannot let our empathy break down, and we cannot slip back into silence.
We see this anger and empathy already starting to disappear. Already, those who will not be directly affected by Trump’s presidency are starting to roll back their outrage, to say things like, “Let’s give him a chance—if he makes a hostile move, then we’ll be sure to do all we can to stop him.”
But they fail to understand that electing Trump to the Presidency sent a message to women, the LGBT community, disabled people, immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, and other marginalized groups that they are unwelcome here.
The damage has already been done.
Perhaps most important will be simple affirmation that we love and accept people different from ourselves.
Be vocal in your support for others. Each voice raised against fear and hate will be a light in the darkness. Each denial of hate, no matter what form it takes, is a small step toward what America should be.
White supremacy, xenophobia, and sexism alike gain power from the silence of bystanders. It will be our duty in the coming years to not stand by, silent, if the new government attempts to do terrible things to our Earth and its people.
Listen to and try to understand those around you—including those you disagree with.
Take what the protest organizers did, for example.
Some community members took issue with the protest being held on Veterans Day. But the students who organized the protest should be commended for the grace with which they recognized the holiday.
An opening address committed to honoring veterans, prominent thank-yous to all those who served, a speech from a local veteran, and the singing of the national anthem were all met with loud and sustained cheers. When an upset community member suggested a food drive in place of a protest, the organizers cheerfully incorporated the idea into the event.
Veterans Day and the “Not My America” protest are not conflicting ideas. The protesters overwhelmingly acknowledged that, and respectfully gave the holiday its due.
Our veterans fought for the right to publicly and peacefully renounce hate, and this is what the protesters did.
This is not a political disagreement. Hate and bigotry should have no place in America.
The time to speak out and take action against the rhetoric of the president-elect is not somewhere down the line, at some poorly-defined future point when his injustices become too much to bear.
The time is now.