Nine Days Since Trump

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016 

Today is Election Day, it is early in the morning, and I am reshelving books. I open a heavy red hardcover book to a random page. A photograph of a young Hillary Clinton chugging Coca-Cola on the company’s 100th birthday stares back at me. I cringe at the premonition, close the book, and place it on the shelf. I think to myself, “She will be the new president of the United States by nightfall” as I continue pushing my book truck through the third floor of Frost. I wish the election of the first female president of the United States did not make me cringe.

It is now dark outside and there is a man on the television telling me that Donald Trump just won the key state of North Carolina. People around me are drinking milkshakes and coloring. The nausea sets in. I scribble angry thoughts in a journal as thoughts of my family flood my mind.

“Have they called Florida yet?”

“No, not yet.”

I walk back home in the numbing cold. Every step feels surreal. It feels like I am in some sort of dull nightmare and do not know when I will wake up.

I follow the news reports on the election throughout the night. It gets progressively worse. Around three in the morning my eyelids eventually shut from exhaustion.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 

I wake up and check the news again before heading to breakfast.

Once in Val, I reach for the blue New York Times paper that reads “Her Reign Begins”, hoping that last night was a nightmare. A cruelly deceiving ad for a new Netflix movie unfolds. How is this reality?

I go on with my day hearing my white male professors begin class by saying something they probably rehearsed in the shower that morning.  I try to focus on statistics, but it is almost impossible.

Too many people offer me hugs and empty consolations.

That night the WAHM radio studio in the campus center is packed with people sharing their reactions. We question democracy and the future.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

I climb into a car with four others as Santa Cecilia’s “Ice El Hielo” plays over the speakers. We drive to UMass to attend a panel discussion titled “Alien Incarceration” and we mull over the imminent danger that awaits undocumented immigrants, especially young immigrants who received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), in this country. Under Obama’s administration, more people were deported than ever before in history, so Donald Trump’s election promises to wage an unprecedented war against immigrants.

Friday, November 11, 2016:

I receive a text:

“I’m trying to get shit organized asap but ppl haven’t been responding :(”

Saturday, November 12, 2016

With an X-Acto knife in my hand I begin to carve out an image from cardboard. In the background, a conference call among students from across the nation takes place. We share information, advice, and encouragement. The call reminds us that we—a handful of students in the basement of Keefe furiously cutting away at cardboard—are not alone. Hours pass, and as small pieces of cardboard fall through to form a stencil, the pieces of a plan also begin to fall into place. I leave the basement of Keefe with my fingers stained in spray paint, a small knick on my middle finger, and an untiring sense of hope.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Media? Mic? Facebook? Twitter? Speakers? Writers? Photographers? Flyers? Tabling? Banner? The checklist gets longer as more people begin to offer their help. The most important questions are the ones that have nothing to do with the walkout:  Where are you from? What was it like growing up there?

Monday, November 14, 2016

The José Martí room welcomes new faces who have never stepped foot inside. Artists sprawl out in the hallway, while logistical planners sit in a circle inside the room. Everyone checks up on each other and expresses gratitude. The commonality of interest makes the space kind, thoughtful, and patient.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Late at night, I pick up someone else’s writing as if it were my own. I trust the work they did and hope they trust me.  After coffee, noisy typing, and reading aloud, we say to each other:

“I think it is done.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 

It is a cloudy day and people slowly begin showing up and standing on the steps of Converse Hall. Not long past noon, hundreds of voices begin shouting in unison “Immigrants are welcome here”. Having heard the opposite my entire life, I cannot adequately express how proud and grateful I feel to be part of community  that demands respect and dignity for immigrants, a community that does not silently allow mass incarceration to continue, a community that stands together in recognition of our shared humanity.

If you had told me a week ago that Hillary Clinton would be president, I would have shrugged in blasé annoyance. If you had told me that Donald Trump would be president, I would have laughed. If you had told me that hundreds of people from the Amherst College community would come together to protect its community members and protest discrimination against immigrants, I would not have believed you.

Today, Donald Trump is the president-elect, but today hundreds of my peers reaffirm that together we still have a chance of creating a better world.