December 13, 2016
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There is a feeling somewhere between anger and sorrow that leaves a person incapable of expression. Where all that can be done is stare blankly into a screen, until the tears are noticed.
I was drifting in and out of consciousness and my computer had run out of battery hours ago, but it was still on my lap. My mother walks into the living room very late at night and asks me how I was holding up.
I have had to deal with that question and many others like it. Friends desperately asking me if she could still win and then hoping that I was wrong. Then, after the election was decided, I was asked a question that I didn’t know how to answer.
“What do we do now?”
The sense of impending doom was too great and my blood was running much too hot for me to think clearly. The feeling of helplessness followed me wherever I went and frankly, I wanted to distance myself from politics. I just didn’t know what to do.
Naturally, that “distance” from politics didn’t last very long.
The DP walkout was fueled by raw, unfiltered emotion from students, but directed by the same goal that sparked protests across the country: the desire to be heard.
We know that we cannot change the outcome of the presidency, but that is never the point. As high school students, most of us couldn’t vote. Our demographic doesn’t have a say in the election, there is no other way for us to share our opinion with the public aside from protesting. So instead of remaining silent, we exercised our 1st Amendment rights and protested.
The protest was not only a way for students to express their opinions about a Trump presidency, it provided an outlet to release pent up emotion and stress directed towards the election in a way that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.
Despite what many say, protesting is important even if there aren’t tangible results. It felt good to protest, to be loud, to show that we care. Empowering a large group of alienated students will always be an accomplishment.
It was a long walk and we arrived tired and sweaty, but with purpose. We stopped about 100 yards from the rally and regrouped. We wanted to, rather needed to, show UCSB that we were organized. That we were together against the hate perpetuated by the president-elect.
The energy was palpable. Shouts of encouragement coming from all directions and it didn’t take long for the college students to join us in our chant “Love not Trump.” We arrived at the fringe of the crowd where the organizer I had contact with encouraged me to march everyone on stage to “show them who we are.”
Cheers coming from the other protestors, looks of hope from some and tears from others, myself included. I started yelling into the crowd, trying to communicate who we were and why we had come. “This is Dos Pueblos” I repeated over and over.
I wasn’t merely stating the obvious, that the students were from the local high schools. I was showing that the protest as a whole was representative of Dos Pueblos. That even though we were in high school we wouldn’t stand for hate and despite the consequences we had decided to express ourselves.
When I spoke I understood exactly what I wanted to say. I knew that others were going to speak on the behalf of the groups that they belong to, but I needed everyone to understand how significant it was that we were in high school.
I was handed a microphone and began to address the protest. Every word that I spoke fed off of the raw emotion that I didn’t have a release for before.
I was liberated from the negative feelings that I was experiencing that kept me from realizing what we were going to do after the election. Protesting isn’t where this election ends. It is just the beginning of the fight against the hate that our country is facing.
Disagree with me if you like about the outcome of the election, but don’t attempt to put down the protesting that is so important for many.
We have started our first steps to healing and together we will recover.