The walk from Union Square to Trump tower is a little less than 3 miles. The rain hit the pavement as relentlessly as our feet did; We were thousands of voices strong. Our roar crescendoed across New York City, weaving its way through traffic, working its way from bohemian Greenwich Village to big shiny Midtown.

New York City has rallied before. As a friend pointed out, it was easy to come together over atrocities like the bombings in Paris last year, when there was a clear binary of right and wrong. But what is the paramount issue here? Is it Trump, his absence of a political background and his endless list of ‘isms? Or is the problem the fact that American voters aligned with his views and policies, regardless of the hatred he enforces and incites? How do we, as Americans, deal with the fact that someone so sensationalist, dishonest, fascist, racist, homophobic, misogynist, and xenophobic (to give the short list) was voted into office by our electoral college? What is the root of the problem? And, from there, how do we heal and unite across boundaries as a country?

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On my very liberal campus, the past week has been a total frenzy of emoting, comforting, rallying, protesting, and voicing opinions and fears. Donald Trump’s presidency doesn’t begin for another 3 months, but students here are panicked. Students have been skipping class to grieve and I’ve seen people holding back tears in public. All my classes have been interrupted to talk about the historic and divisive events that have taken place.

My writing professor compared this election to the rise of fascism in Germany, choking up when he mentioned how his family fled in 1933, but that countless people waited until it was too late, paying the ultimate price. “Is this 1933?” was his question to the class.

Yes, it is scary to me that a bigot who can’t even keep up with his own lies was voted into office fair and square. But, this is a democracy. This will not be like 1933. Our form of government is stronger in many ways than Germany’s was. “We the people” still have the power. We simply need to act. Voting is one way to change policy, but there are many other ways. People can organize, strike and protest; Organizations can pressure the government and make demands. We can educate the youngest generations to reject hate. Trump has given the green light to Americans to expose their -ism’s which have always existed, and now that they’ve been unearthed, we have solid grounds on which to work together and create change.

Educators must educate their students on the history of oppression, and break away from the Eurocentric narrative that exists in every field. Compassion must be exercised at every level of communication. People must listen and stand in solidarity with minorities and marginalized groups. We must be excellent role models for the youngest generations, teach them to use empathy, and show them that hate speech and violence is not okay. All people must raise their voices and take an active role in democracy. We must drown out this fear and hate with love and action.

This is a dark hour for America. But, as the saying goes, it’s always darkest before the dawn.


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