Students must stand together, refuse to live in fear

Dyala Kasim

Post-2016 Presidential Election America. Well, here we are. After almost a year of debates and drama, campaigning and rallying (and yes, an infinite amount of nervous nail-biting), America has finally chosen a leader for the next four years of their country and I am still in shock to say that that leader is Donald Trump.

How have we gotten to this point? How could we as a nation have picked such a president? And above all, how could we be comfortable with this man representing us? A man that has insulted people of color, people with disabilities, people in the LGBTQ community. A man who speaks about women as if they are nothing more than their bodies. A man who has made it clear that he is against Muslims, against Mexicans, against any immigrants entering this country. How can such a “leader” speak for us?

Since the election results came in, I have seen many of my classmates cry, heartbroken over the fact that anyone would be okay with voting for this candidate. Since the election results were proclaimed, I have watched as my teachers stood solemnly in the front of our classrooms, attempting to relate the election back to our lessons, yet failing to keep the sadness off of their faces. Since the election results sank into the minds of many of my friends and family members, both in America and around the world, I have seen nothing but political news stories and commentary flood my social media accounts.

But above this sense of sadness, depression, disappointment and shock reigns another sentiment, one that worries me even more than the others: fear.

Since the night of Tuesday, Nov. 8, I have seen, heard of and read about many incidents of politics-related violence. People have been physically assaulted and attacked. People have been taunted and called the most despicable of epithets. Houses of worship, of God and of peace have been vandalized with disgusting words of hate and signs of evil have been plastered on people’s cars and houses. Within a matter of days, we as a nation have been moving back in time, regressing to eras of close-mindedness, recreating the history that we have worked and fought so hard to escape.

Yet as much as we feel it, we cannot live in fear. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” This election has been a disappointment to me and to many others. But nothing can break us, even if we are scared. For though this is a difficult time in our history, it is also a time where we must stand together.

So to every person of color who has been pushed down, I will go down with you. To every member of the LGBTQ community who has been taunted with vile words, I will bear them with you. To every immigrant who has been told to “Go back to your own country!” I will stay here with you. To every woman who has been treated as though she were nothing more than a body, I will speak out against this objectification with you. And to every individual who does not wish to walk alone at night, I will always walk with you.

My heart is heavy, but not broken. My mind is reeling, but still focused. I refuse to live in fear, even if I do feel it for each and every one of us, for this country and all that it stands for. And I shall continue to hope, even in the darkest of times.

For once again, I feel that King’s words ring true, even after all these years: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness—only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate—only love can do that.”