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Election Night

Campus was quiet. Everywhere I looked, I heard nothing, I spoke no words, I had nothing left in me to say. Those spaces I heard with laughter, filled with chatter, rummaging with noise, rung songs of silence - but maybe that was because I tuned things out. When I actually began to listen, the conversations were as if it were just a regular day, business as usual. I know, the day after the election that I was not the only one who was at a loss for words.

Half of the American population found the results of this election shocking and disappointing. The other half celebrates joyfully, they feel as though the President elect is the best person to lead this country for the next four years. This election, along with many Presidential elections of the past, exists as a turning point in history. And we all have watched the world change before our eyes. The candidate that won the election of 2016, has shined a luminous light on the divide in America. His words throughout the past few months have been fueled by hateful, racist, sexist, and ignorant views. And he has made it clear that many people will not be represented in the future of America. His “dream,” to “Make America Great Again!” does not include minorities, members of the LGBT community, women, nor does it include Syrian refugees, Muslims, or members from various groups.

As a minority, it is not hard to fear what is to come. It is not only the elected candidate that people fear, but they fear the everyday people that harbor those same beliefs. People surrounding us are what make this country; and as these ideas have surfaced - and are now more potent than ever - no one knows what people are capable of. None of the isms ever died, got resolved, and dissipated - they existed, remained hidden, and weren't always expressed.

In discussion with an entrepreneur that I look up to, he questioned why so many of the young people were distraught by the results of the election. And I had to inform him that our disgust and distraught doesn't come from us feeling as though these are new issues that have arisen, but rather that these are issues that become more and more prevalent over time and seem to have no resolution.

My disgust stems from me being a black college student on a predominately white campus where black students are spat on and told to go back home, where an effigy of our current President with a noose around his neck is worn at a Football game, and where black students can be told to “watch their mouth,” in the parking lot of a McDonald’s as a lighter is flashed in their face.

My students bring me inspiration. For my first semester in college, I was a facilitator for the JVNP One Life Project where we go to high schools and run workshops to encourage the use of Hip-Hop, poetry, performance and other arts as forms of expression in a school and professional setting. And although I was distraught and disgusted and angry, my students were too. And in that classroom, on the second floor, with the lights lit, it was the first space that entire day that I heard noise. The room no longer stood still, voices rang sweet melodic screams of pain, and I couldn't do anything but break down. Hearing them construct poetry about their personal lives, their emotions surrounding the election, and their responses to their negative peers brought me to tears.

My disgust arises from the fact that I have to look at my students, who could not vote, and see them hurt by the results of the election. I wish that I could help them and make them feel better. But even in spite of my disgust, I am not discouraged or uncomfortable - the inner activist within me is fueled and inspired even more. I am inspired to create art, use my art as my voice in protest. I may not be able to change the President, or the people who hold similar views, but I can provoke thought and express how I feel. I encourage you all to do the same, find your mode of expression and be an activist and a person who seeks reform in that sense. In what ways do you express yourself? Think about it, and think about how you can apply your everyday situations to your expression process.

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