On Friday, as she dismissed my art class, a professor told us that we didn’t have any homework for the weekend. “It’s been a hard week,” she justified sympathetically, “you all deserve to relax.” She didn’t elaborate, but we all knew exactly what she was talking about.
Whether or not you voted for Donald Trump, the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential election was shocking for all, and utterly devastating to many across the country and on campus. I myself, influenced by faulty polls, stubborn optimism and perhaps even a touch of naivety, was convinced the day would never come when Trump would be declared the President-elect. On Wednesday morning I felt like I was navigating a hazy and confusing dream. I know I was not alone in contemplating the heavy reality our nation now faces. As I processed the events of the previous day, I desperately clung to any and all shreds of hope I could muster. Half of America cannot be explicitly racist, sexist, minority hating pigs, I assured myself, there’s just no way. As problematic as it might be, Trump voters just voted out of frustration for the current administration. Who can blame them for voting in a way they hoped would better their lives, I reasoned. It’s going to be ok, I concluded. It’s fine; we’ll all be fine. But the second I stepped out of my dorm for my afternoon classes, I was touched by the palpable sense of mourning and fear that clouded campus. And I knew then, that everything was, and is not OK, especially for those who have their very personhood threatened by Trump’s rise to power.
Much of the Brandeis community wanted nothing more than to hide in bed on Wednesday and grieve. Yet people showed up to classes, organized discussion groups and rallied at protests in a way I had never seen before. Furthermore, the earnest concern and love shown by those on campus was especially touching. It was heartening to think that in this moment of confusion, pain, and distress, the Brandeis community banded together in a promise to protect and preserve not only their values, but also the personhoods of those individuals threatened by a Trump presidency. Especially considering the series of vile incidents following the election, it is my urgent wish that we keep this promise and ride this wave of community, solidarity and support until the very end. If we do so, then perhaps we can look towards the future with a touch more optimism.
In his first public speech as President-elect Trump claimed he would be a President for all the people. I pray to whatever God(s), spirits, or energies that may exist in the universe, with the hope that Trump was sincere in his statement. I dread to think of the alternative. Nevertheless, I know that whatever happens, if the Brandeis community, along with hundreds of thousands of Americans, and international friends, stand side by side to protect, preserve and fight for the rights of threatened minorities including people of color, LGBT individuals, women, Muslims, immigrants, etcetera, as we vowed to do this week, we will survive what is to come. That is my silver lining. I hope it will be yours too.