Grieving and gathering our thoughts after the election
<em>In the early hours of November 9, 2016, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. For most of us, this was the first election we’d ever voted in. And for most of us, this election hit much harder than we expected. With our myriad identities as well as our shared passion for media, reactions ranged. Some had intellectual responses, others reacted viscerally. And some were simply numb. Here are our thoughts on working through and coming to terms with a day we’ll never forget.
By Sophie Israelsohn, Ministry of Cool Editor
“I look down at my body this morning and I see blood flowing from the same place someone once said to grab. And in this moment, I know even in my darkest of spaces that I will protect this blood, my blood. I will protect the most human element with my brothers and sisters of color, my family and friends and allies. I will protect it until this blood becomes another human and I teach them how to protect theirs.
Grab a hold of that.”
Nov. 9, 2016 5:07 a.m.
I can count the times I’ve woken up screaming on one hand. I’m not sure I can really count this one as waking up. Open eyes does not always a conscious human make. It was the longest morning. I had five hours of life I could have lived before class, but I spent it making the most broken sounds with tears burning trails in my skin. And I wondered if I could let the salt settle that my body would become another dead sea and the rest of me could float above the day, the week. The next four years.
I knew in the darkness of 5 a.m. that the moment I stood up, the tears bleeding through the fabric surrounding my skin would be tears of two colors. One of the hardest days to be a woman, a human. And somewhere underneath for a brief moment, the pain was something I could take back. I could have drowned in my sheets, that’s what I wanted. But I stood, like a woman.
And between my guttural cries, blood cried between my legs.
At the peak of powerlessness, nothing mattered, not the stains I’d probably leave on my clothes if I didn’t change out of them. There’s a blood stain on this country that’s going to be harder to get out. In the great stretch of the country, the planet, the universe, I did the bare minimum as a small, emotionally defeated human.
I disappeared and then reappeared with the shower running, leaning against the crying walls to keep myself standing. The sounds that left my mouth, whatever could be released from the bind in my throat, echoed between the salt in me and the red that fell just as fast. My dead sea, my red sea would carry me through the day when my legs couldn’t.
I stood and the iron in my blood made my shield.
Use Our Words
By Tara Eng, Layout Editor
I’ve been trying to come up with something to say to you about everything going on right now. I still don’t really know what that is yet. I am upset. I am crying, and I have been crying. Once I figure out what to say I’ll tell you. But for now, I will say this: I love each of you with all of my heart and being.I do not know what is going to happen over the coming years, or long term. I am very, very sorry that we now have a leader who does not stand for any of us. But more than anything in the past 12 hours, I have realized that, while we live in a country with people who will elect those such as Donald Trump, whose eyes are so blind and ignorant with privilege and whose hearts are so ingrained with racism, homophobia and misogyny; there are people who will stand with you, who will fight for you, who will love you and accept you with all of their hearts. A friend’s mom texted this morning, “continue to exude your kindness, grace and love…”
You are safe with me, you are protected with me, and I love you so much.
I spent Nov. 9 trying to formulate a statement of some sort to share with three of my closest friends, a group of gay students enrolled in a homophobic high school, and my very best friend, who is black and had left me a voicemail sobbing at 2:47 a.m.
Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote, “My response was, in this moment, to write. I was lucky I had even that. Most of us are forced to drink our travesties straight and smile about it.”
More than ever, it is important for us to use our words now. Grieve however you must and will, but use your words to support one another, to protect one another, to love one another. We must use our words to defend ourselves and each other, to challenge and change, and to stand up for us. I know that it might be difficult to try to articulate our feelings; it might feel hopeless and useless to make bold statements — but we must try. It is imperative that we take care of each other.
I hope that, through our anger, our despair, our shock and frustration, that we remember to love. It is easy to get lost in those sinking feelings and forget that.
I Don’t Like Donald Trump
By Claire McClusky, Art Editor
On November 9, I spent the day sleeping and staring at my laptop. I couldn’t eat or engage with people. I attended some sort of anti-Trump gathering downtown. Since then, my care for school and personal health has diminished. Certain things just seem less important. It has been frustrating and depressing to attend gatherings where this intensified and obvious form of hate is never mentioned. But I am just as equal to blame. It is on all of us to create the future by how we engage in the present.
Donald Trump is an image of toxic masculinity. This is different from people fighting for what is right — it is trying to prove that everything and everyone is rightfully theirs to control. This capitalist, white dominated patriarchy is not beneficial for the ideal image of human advancement. The system is failing the masses and those of us it still benefits are scrambling to scare everyone else into respecting its power to destroy. It isn’t real though. It is a performance to fulfill expectations more hurtful than useful.
Illness of the collective is more clear and present than ever. When I speak to older people, they have felt the rise in intensity. We are coming to a breaking point. Social structures can’t hold their pathologies infinitely. Eventually they build up so precisely that they are too fragile to survive. They crumble and we rebuild a new, more complex structure, more appropriate for those influencing its building and progress.
Only the weak need terror to keep some sort of social order. You and your community can create effective and beneficial structures to support one another. If someone comes around to stop you from doing something peaceful and productive, they will only embarrass themselves. The more these people embarrass themselves (and get documented and seen), the more we see them for the performers they are, the less we buy into their power or the system their power comes from.
If you have a vision, bring it forward. Don’t be scared to influence if you are presenting your truth and admitting your limited experience. Many of us are at a point where we have access to infinite information, can determine validity with our fingertips and can clearly see what systemic structures are oppressive. Others have an incredible interest or skill in technological achievement. We have the technology, imagination and resources to build and support sustainable living.
Come to each other looking to learn and understand. Know what you know, and know that you don’t know. Personally, I want to end capitalism, but if you think that it is here to stay, then know your spending influences the social and environmental situation on this planet. Your dollar tells companies how to take resources and what for. These are the same companies influencing policy makers. Don’t participate in something you don’t agree with.
Resist, But Understand
By Evan Popp, Upfront Editor
The unthinkable has happened. Despite losing the popular vote, by virtue of the electoral college, a racist, misogynistic, hopelessly uninformed serial tweeter will — barring a revolt by the electors — become the 45th president of the United States.
My life, with its white male privilege, will change little. But for others, this is a disaster. That’s why it’s been so heartening to see a groundswell of resistance emerge, ready to fight the incoming administration at every turn. But while resistance is important, it will ultimately be futile unless it’s coupled with an understanding of why this happened in the first place.
The reasons given so far by the Democratic establishment miss the mark. It wasn’t because of third parties. It wasn’t because of James Comey. And it certainly wasn’t because all 62 million people who voted for the demagogic billionaire are vitriolically racist. Some of those voters undoubtedly are, but a significant portion actually voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Here’s what I believe happened instead. If we take anything away from this election, it must be that it was a rejection of the elite. A no-thank-you to continued globalization and neo-liberalism, to more free-trade deals that lead to losses of jobs, and to an economic recovery that hasn’t been felt by much of the working class. Hillary Clinton, in everything but her gender, was a personification of the establishment and of status quo politics. And whatever else he might be, the foul-mouthed real-estate mogul was not. His very candidacy was a repudiation of Washington insiders and career, establishment politicians. And that, more than anything else, is why he will be sworn into office in January.
Does this mean his presidency will be good for those screwed over by the forces of the establishment he railed against? Of course not. It will be an unmitigated disaster, as the rich will get richer, the poor will get poorer and social justice will be thrown out the window. Nor does it mean that those who voted without any regard for how it would impact others should be excused. However, moral condemnation gets us nowhere. What does get us somewhere is understanding how a candidate so clearly unqualified for the presidency managed to get elected.
So resist, fight back, hold the incoming administration accountable. But along with that, there must come a push for a sea-change in the types of candidates put forward in opposition. No longer can they be representatives of the elite. They must instead give voice to a message of change, not to a continuation of the status quo. And they must push back against globalization and other policies that have hurt the working class while also retaining a message of social justice for all.
Only then can the forces of hatred and bigotry, thrust into the highest offices of government by the results of this election, be defeated.
New Year’s Resolution
By Alexis Morillo, Upfront Editor
My New Year’s Resolution for 2016 was to become more politically aware. It’s important to note that this has been one of my resolutions for the past three years, but 2016 was the first year I would be old enough to vote and I wanted to know what I was doing in order to properly fulfill my civic duty. Unfortunately, like many of the years prior, I failed at my New Year’s Resolution about two months into the new year. More unfortunately, the first election I was eligible to vote in turned out to be one of the most problematic.As a journalism student, it’s impossible to look at situations so heavily reported on without thinking about the media’s effect on the public’s perceptions. I don’t want to use this space to discuss the outcome directly. I want to be candid and honest and say that although this was the first election I could vote in, I made the decision not to. I feel guilty for not voting but I’d feel more guilty voting for a candidate I could not back up and be completely confident in.
The fact that others shared this mentality is the sad reality of this election, but as an optimist, I feel that as a country we can learn and grow from the happenings of the 2016 presidential race. I knew the scope of the situation when I woke up on November 9th to my roommate crying in the bathroom of our dorm room while on the phone with her mother. This feeling was only confirmed further when I couldn’t help but notice how much quieter campus seemed when walking from class to class that day or when my professors let us spend at least 20 minutes of class debriefing, or excusing us from class completely. I knew just how influential politics can be not only to those directly affected, but also to the families, friends, and allies of marginalized groups. I want those that are fearful and confused to know that despite my still developing political views — I am with you. This may have been the first election I was able to vote in, but it was not my last.
Although I stand by my decision to not vote, it was a decision I will push myself to never make again by educating myself on the topics that matter to me and impact those I love. My New Year’s Resolution for 2017 will once again be to become more politically aware. But this time, I have full intentions to keep it.
Love is All You Need?
By Tylor Colby, Sawdust Editor
You Can’t Always Get What You Want, a 1969 single by the Rolling Stones, has always been one of my least favorite songs from the classic Brit-Rock group. With every listen I imagine Jagger’s yelping is coming from some gross pervy dude talking to a woman he’s about to sleep with, as if to say, “I guess this is the best you’re gonna get, eh?”
The same tune played out over loudspeakers while President-Elect Donald Trump approached the stage to give his victory speech, and as I watched it all unfold on television I couldn’t help but think how fitting the song was for the situation our country is now in. Except instead of an unfortunate one-night-stand with a regular everyday sleazebag, America has found ourselves in a four to eight-year marriage with one of our country’s most notorious slumlords and bigots.
I remember the pit in my stomach as my friends and I watched it all unfold, the zombified look on mine and everyone else’s face around me. In a fit of desperation, we ran downstairs to play music that was as loud and fast as possible. After a few minutes we were tired out, the attempted catharsis a failure. Again we tried to let out our collective frustration by screaming as loudly as possible off the roof of a parking garage. Even as our collective cries echoed up and over the nearby buildings, I felt an emptiness.
Over the next few days, this unresolved, ambiguous sensation still remained. And with every bit of news about the soon-to-be Trump administration coming in, I feel the same as I did that day. The reality is our country and our government is in a lot of trouble, and there’s no feel-good way of wrapping that up in a bow. But what I have done instead over the past few weeks is work to build as much positive energy for those around me than ever before, because in these times that is the most crucial component. I’ve had enough of apathy, I’ve had enough of anger, I’ve had enough of division. Those of us with a real sense of the political climate need to band together in love.
As political talking head Stephen Fry said following the election, “You don’t convince anyone of anything by insulting them.” The demographics of this country are being swallowed up by our own bubbles, but we all suffocate the same. Let’s burst the bubbles of our culture with care, and communicate as clearly and earnestly as possible in the next few years, because this is the only way I can imagine we’re going to get ourselves out of this mess.
Taking a Step Backwards
I struggled to hold her hand. In one of the biggest and most crowded cities in the world, I struggled to hold her hand. Just a simple action. The five fingers from two separate palms interlocking into one another. Really, it’s an action that all couples do. All couples do it, but heterosexual couples have an easier time doing this than queer couples — especially closeted queer couples. Whenever it came to publicly displaying our affection, she always misunderstood me. She thought my fingers never intertwined with hers because I was somehow embarrassed of her. I always felt baffled to hear her say that. I thought she was beautiful, intelligent and driven; however, I thought the world surrounding us viewed us as disgusting, abnormal and repugnant.
I wasn’t afraid to hold her hand; I was afraid for someone to see us. For someone to judge us. For someone to say something. It’s not as if my anxiety was wrong. During those rare moments when we took part in that simple action, my mind wasn’t fully focused on our conversation. Instead, my eyes would constantly pan and observe the world around me. I’d catch the quick glances and raised eyebrows from elderly men, busy mothers and fast-walking businessmen. My fears weren’t completely irrational. Despite all these disapproving looks from random strangers, it always felt assuring to know that these were issues of an older generation. Progressive millennials didn’t believe this bullshit.
I never felt nervous about the outcome of the 2016 election.I felt angry to hear the social platforms of the Republican candidates, but I thought their ideas were part of the minority. I believed the liberal media and those in my liberal town. I believed the narrative that chanted we were with her. After all, why would anyone not be?
When television reporters, online news outlets and states reported the outcomes, I didn’t believe what I was watching. The later the night grew, the more my hope dwindled. These supporters of the Republican ticketed elected a man and an administration that supports racist, homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic and classist ideologies. I hate hearing the excuses of people who tell me that this man won because he connected to members of the lower-middle class that felt disenfranchised from their government. If you look at his First 100 Day Plan, the middle class doesn’t win. This man didn’t win the election because he finally gave the midwest and the middle class what they need to succeed. Instead, he fueled their unconscious and subconscious hatred. But thanks to this man, middle class midwesterners believe they might achieve success because they elected a man who wants to make a mass amount of others fail.
I’m from the midwest, so when I went home for November break I talked to my friends about the outcome of the election. During this discussion, someone asked me if I believed supporters of the president-elect were racist or not. A couple of my friends said they didn’t think they were racist, and I said they were confusing the definitions for racism and prejudice. Prejudice is the preconceived opinion about others, but racism is what creates systemic oppression. Thus, a small portion of supporters of the president-elect might not be prejudiced, but since they voted for a man who has openly admitting to wanting to ban immigrants, impose a system similar to Japanese-style internment, and other horrific policies, they are indeed racist.
I hope these discussions continue to happen. The day after the results came out, I attended a rally to discuss what we could do next. One of the rally leaders, Russell Rickford, a Cornell professor, said the outcome of this election can be our nation’s Emmett Till moment. And I agree with him. We need to follow up on this “administration,” talk to our local governments, stay engaged with others in our communities and keep up with current events. It’s not about looking forward to the next presidential election. It’s not about hiding your identity because you’re afraid of being judged. It’s about being active. Seeing what you can do to make change. It’s about voicing displeasure instead of being complacent.
I am a woman. I am a Mexican. I am queer. Despite those three identities, I acknowledge my privileges. I am cisgendered, college-educated, able-bodied and a member of the upper-middle class. I have the ability to still be successful during these next four years. And I will use this privilege to be vocal and to help those who might have all odds stacked against them.
Now more than ever, the Buzzsaw Eds are trying their best to inspire themselves, each other and their readers with their words and thoughts. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org.