The last week has been everything but ordinary. As much as it pains many to accept it, Donald Trump is now the President-elect of the United States.
As I drove to work the morning after election day, I noticed the blank and somber look on people’s faces. As I walked into my school building, I could only imagine the outcomes of this election for my students and their families. I knew it would be emotionally draining and shattering to be an educator the day after this presidential election.
Although the outcome of the presidential election was no longer in my control, what I did have control over is how I made my students feel, now that this devastating political decision had been made. I tried my best to make my students feel safe, loved and cared for. Using resources from a Huffington Post article, I reassured them that we would protect them. I reassured them that they have a whole community of educators behind them to advocate for them and to not tolerate hate.
Our school’s administration put together a beautiful all school meeting in order to give students a space to process the election and to remind them that their school remains a safe space. As students walked out of this gathering, they also began walking out of the front doors of our school in large numbers. My students were participating in a walkout to protest the outcome of the election. Students from different local high schools had been communicating all morning with plans of walking out and meeting up to rally at Richmond Civic Center, a midpoint in our city. I was among other staff members present at the rally to ensure the safety of our students and to offer support for their movement.
By law, young people are kept from voting and are unable to participate in this political process. Undocumented students and their families are also not allowed to vote. My students were outraged for not having a voice in this election, but knowing they would be directly affected by the outcome. Walking out was their form of civic participation, and it was beautiful. A local high school student mentioned at the rally that this was the first time all the high schools were together for a cause, except for a football game or a fight. The anger was evident in all the speakers, but so was the hope and motivation to fight the hate and oppression this election is bringing up in the US. The high schools in my district were among many nationwide that organized to protest Trump’s victory.
After having a few days to process, I am feeling grateful to be in a school community that protects its people and will not tolerate hate. I am especially hopeful in our youth and their power to organize for change. I know last week’s protests and walkouts are only the beginning of their involvement to revolutionize this country’s broken political system.
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