Oberlin Must Not Settle for Silence in Wake of Election
Despite a commendable effort by Hillary Clinton supporters, Lorain County went red on Tuesday by fewer than 400 votes. Though many Oberlin students are devastated by the result, for many in nearby residences, President-elect Donald Trump was the clear choice. Now more than ever, we must take advantage of our own voices and campus resources to take a stand both on campus and in surrounding communities.
Just because the election is over does not mean students should stop mobilizing against injustice, especially as hateful acts surge. No progress will be made by sitting back and hoping things will work out; the fear and hatred that has pervaded our country cannot be normalized or ignored. It is our responsibility to peacefully demonstrate and resist these anti-progressive and discriminatory policies — complacency is not an option when human rights are at risk.
The sadness and fear in Oberlin was palpable Wednesday. President Barack Obama’s impending retirement from office undoubtedly stirs fear in many students whose personal safety is threatened by Trump’s hateful rhetoric. His action plan for his first 100 days in office includes the deportation of undocumented immigrants, decreased funding to sanctuary cities and the continued destruction of sovereign land by pipeline construction, among other regressive policies.
While a Republican-controlled legislature will not necessarily back all of Trump’s brash ideas, members of the GOP will certainly consider some, making it easier to dismantle much of the progress that has been made in the last eight years under Obama.
Day one in Trump’s America brought a drastic increase in racist, xenophobic and sexist hate crimes, but at the same time protests against the President-elect erupted in cities like NYC, Chicago, D.C. and Los Angeles and on college campuses. As the popular vote went to Clinton, many struggle to acknowledge Trump as their rightful president, sparking the hashtag #NotMyPresident.
In his speech Wednesday, President Obama urged the nation to accept the election results. “The peaceful transition of power is one of the hallmarks of our democracy,” he said. “And over the next few months, we are going to show that to the world.” And while a peaceful transition of power is necessary to maintain our system of democracy, it does not negate the actions we can take at a local level to protect our most vulnerable communities.
The most effective course of action for now is to work with our own Ohio community. Those who are able should become involved in organizations like the Ninde Scholars program, Oberlin Community Services emergency assistance, America Counts tutoring, the Bridge or Zion CDC to support Black and Brown community members. The student body should urge the Dean of Students office to allocate funds to emergency unhealth concerns or legal fees, especially to support undocumented students.
Finally, for those who are able to do so safely, we should engage in conversations across the aisle without resorting to elitist language or bringing in a superiority complex that led many to disregard the real possibility of a Trump presidency in the first place. The collective work of organizing against Trump — and the systems of prejudice that his election condones — will require mobilizing on grassroots levels and reckoning with the state of our nation.