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Why I Chose to Protest After the 2016 Election

Editor’s Note: All articles for Her Campus OR State are the opinions and beliefs of the writers and do not reflect Her Campus OR State, the Oregon State University or Her Campus as an international magazine

 

I need to start off this article by saying that I voted for Hillary Clinton. Not only that, but I voted for Hillary Clinton with confidence and enthusiasm. I know for some of you that fact will stop you from continuing on in this article. If that is you, I ask that you resist that urge. I did not tell you that fact to deter you from reading, but in an attempt to be completely open and honest. I understand this bias that I have, but that doesn’t mean what I say below does not hold value. Please do not let who I voted for hinder you in understanding my story.

Last Tuesday I woke up with hope in my heart believing it would be the day that my wildest fantasy of a woman being elected President of the United States would come true. However, Tuesday was not that day. As I sat at a Democrat viewer watch party in a powder blue pant suit, I watched as my dream day turned into a nightmare. I was watching a man who I despised win the Presidency. My heart was in my stomach; I couldn’t move or breath. My chest started to tighten as I began to cry. This was the pain that I and many of the people around me felt. Quickly, however, this sadness turned into worry.  I picked up my phone and quickly messaged all my friends making sure they were alright and if they were in a safe place. I received the same amount of worried texts as I had sent out. What changed everything was that every text I received said “I’m scared.”

I knew that the fear me and my friends felt was also being felt across the nation. Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, everything, was filled with statements of people who began to fear for their safety and even lives. My friends and I quickly realized that we needed to do something. We were inspired by the students marching in Eugene and were hopeful that a similar march would be happening in Corvallis. As we drove around we were disappointed to see the streets of Corvallis bare and silent. Without a second thought we began to plan a protest. There was a moment, however, that we stopped: before we were to take the streets we needed to fully understand what we were protesting and, more importantly, what we were promoting. Then in big letters we put on a poster “LOVE NOT HATE.”

 

We headed to campus around 1:45 AM, with coffee, blankets, posters, and fear. We feared what might happen to us while we sat there, that there was a real chance that something could happen to us. We feared to let people know where we were and what we were doing, but the reality was we couldn’t hide. In that moment we couldn’t think about just ourselves, we couldn’t prioritize our safety, we couldn’t sit and be silent. We had to think about the people who were realizing that a majority of the country had just told them they didn’t care about them. We had to think about the hundreds of thousands of people who were calling the suicide prevention hotline, because they saw no future. We had to think about the people who felt alone, scared, and defeated. So we made it known where we were and what we were doing, and we waited with open arms for people.

Me and my friends had two main goals: 1) to spread love and solidarity, not hate, and 2) create a safe space for individuals who were scared.

We were there all morning and all day. We passed out “Love Not Hate” handouts, we passed out hugs, supported people who needed it, and chanted in passing period to let people know why we were there.

I would say that 80% of the interactions were positive. For a lot of people, knowing that someone was there was enough. For others, they needed to be present in our safe space to feel better about their reality. We had people coming up to us crying in our arms telling us about how they feared for their future. Others picked up a sign and stood with us to build the community of support. Even professors and staff members came out to join us and show their support. People came out in masses to show people that love was going to win and that hate was not to be tolerated.

News sources came out to see what was going down. We told each one the message we were trying to promote, which was love. We talked about how we were trying to show people that no matter what the election results showed, we were not going to let hate and ignorance win.

One reporter asked us “Why did you not go negative, why are you not protesting Trump?” Our answer was simple. We aren’t protesting Trump because he won and there was nothing that we could do at that point about that. What we were protesting is the racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, homophobia, sexism, etc. that Trump had perpetuated through his campaign. Trump did not create this oppression, but his election made it okay for people to openly hate. We, and the people we were in solidarity with, refused to accept the normalization of hate.

On the other side, however, 20% of our interactions were negative. We had people giving us the middle finger, yelling “F*CK YOU,” or proudly telling us that they were going to be fine. Some people sent us messages saying that we were wasting our time and acting like children throwing a tantrum because we lost.

To these people I say this: you do not understand what we are trying to accomplish. We aren’t a bunch of bleeding heart millennial Liberal’s who don’t know how to lose, and to say we are is an insult to us and what we are standing for. Am I mad that Hillary lost? Yes. Am I protesting because she lost and I didn’t get my way? No. This protest was about issues so much bigger than Hillary or Trump. Our protest is to bring attention to oppression. And yes, this oppression and hatred has always been present in our system, but for a lot of us Trump winning showed us truly how bad it is. This is why so many people came out to protest, not Trump, but oppression that has been perpetuated by Trump and his followers.

Some told us that 8 years ago when Obama won conservatives didn’t do this in the streets. The problem with that comparison is these scenarios are completely different. Most people didn’t fear for their lives when Obama became president, most didn’t fear for their right to marriage, fear that their right to reproductive health would be taken away, fear they would be deported. These are legitimate fears people have now. Now I know people who say that Obama infringed on their conservative values, and I understand that. However, for millions of Americans Obama created equality for a lot of people who had been oppressed. Also to those conservatives who think that no one protested when Obama won, and that you sat around patiently waiting for your turn, you are naive. In 2012 people, and states as a whole, tried to succeed from the nation after Obama was re-elected. Many conservatives say that the signs that say “Not my President” are stupid and petty, but let us not forget the protests in 2008 where conservatives protested with signs that said Obama is “Not my President” because people questioned his birth place. So to be fair if you have a problem with our protests, all of our moves we probably learned from you.

Now for all of you out there who are Republicans and voted for Trump, but don’t consider yourself a racist, sexist, anti semitic, xenophobic, or homophobic, I believe you. However, when you voted for Trump you allowed for what he said to be okay. As Hasan Minhaj said on The Daily Show, “[y]ou may not personally be a racist, sexist, xenophobe, but that comes with the package. So what you’re telling me is ‘Hey, man! I don’t hate you. I just don’t care about you.’” I am sorry, but this is true. You have a right as an American to vote for whoever you want, that is your right. However, the reality is just because you have that right to vote for anyone does not mean it’s okay to vote for anyone. You may have voted for Trump for economic reasons, or because you wanted an outsider, and those are valid, but you don’t get to pick and choose. No one gets to pick and choose what they like and don’t like in a candidate. Did I like Clinton’s email scandal? No, but it was apart of her package when I voted for her. It was a reality I had to accept. So if you voted for Trump you voted for all of him, with everything he said. You may not agree with his oppressive remarks, but with your vote you validated and accepted  them.

Last, and this may be the most important point for those who still don’t understand why I protested, I ask you to stop and look at your life. Look at how you identify: your race, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, nationality. Think about the privilege you may receive based on your identity. Then think about the people who differ in identity. Think about the struggles they face because they don’t have this inherent privilege. Think about how they don’t have privilege to keep them safe.Think about why you feel safe under a Trump administration, then think about why others don’t feel safe. Just think about other people that are completely different from you. Have empathy for them. Feel love for them. Understand that having a President that makes a majority of this country feel unsafe is not normal, and we cannot let it become normal.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness:

only light can do that.

Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

-MLK

Justyn is a Senior at Oregon State University studying Political Science: Pre Law. Justyn's motto is Head in Corvallis, Heart in Seattle. She loves anything PNW, especially the rainy fall reason. You can almost always find her on campus in a pant suit, or rocking a blazer around. Justyn enjoys baking Drake themed cakes, or cooking shabbat dinner for the Jewish organization on campus. She is just a Jewish queen trying to start a political revolution!
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