November of 2008, the day after Barack Obama was announced as the president-elect, I wore a t-shirt. Pictured on the front were the new president and first lady. On the back were the words “Yes We Can!” Sitting in class, a conservative student looked at me and said, “You just want to rub it in. You do know it’s only a matter of time before he’s killed right?” I didn’t wear my shirt to be confrontational, nor did I wear it to gloat. I wore that shirt because I was proud. I was proud to be black. I was proud that my president would, for the first time, look like me. I was proud that my country chose to challenge an institution of racism that told me I would never amount to anything. Now, in 2016, that classmate got his chance to put on his shirt. He posted a Facebook picture of it. The shirt read “Obama, you’re fired.” As puzzling as it seems, I’m sure he’s just as proud as I was.
Nauseated, terrified, repulsed – just three of the adjectives that first come to my mind when I think of this election. To say I’m disheartened would be an understatement. I am proud of my Mexican and Italian heritage and if someone like Donald Trump had been president when my great-grandparents immigrated to the United States my family might not be here today. I would be lying if I did not say that I am fearful for the years that lie ahead. Fearful for my friends, classmates and every demographic Trump has marginalized. While this is without a doubt one of the darkest points in our nation’s history, the only way we can move forward is to focus on the light – and our utilization of the First Amendment. Toni Morrison said it best: “We speak, we write, we do language. That is how civilizations heal.” We must not recoil in fear or apathy, but continue to speak and move in the direction of progress. It is our only hope.
Sigrid Johannes: News Editor
Good morning. How are you feeling? A little under the weather today, I see. Well, we have run some tests and I’m afraid it is bad news. You have a cancer. Yes, that’s right. You have a decay, no, I don’t want to frighten you…You see, you have a rancor and a rot that is spreading, yes spreading. How far? I would say it is quite advanced. Quite dangerous. It is threatening your vital organs. There is a cancer in your eyes. A cancer curled around your tongue. Do you feel an itch below your lungs? Do you feel it chewing on your heart? Do you feel it, perhaps, battering on the barriers to your brain? You have a cancer of knowledge, my darling, and I don’t believe you know wrong from right. Real from imagined. You are very sick, my dear. Is it too late to operate?
When I was 11 years old, I dressed up as Donald Trump for Halloween. With my curly red hair dyed white and slicked back, I walked around to tell my neighbors “you’re fired” as I collected my candy. I thought it was clever, but I did not think the man I was emulating was presidential. There has been an enormous amount of time spent lambasting the two presidential candidates during the campaign cycle, but per Pew Research Center, only 28.5 percent of the registered voting population cast a ballot in the 2016 primaries. I am proud to be an American, but civic indifference sucks. A country of free thinking individuals should never end up with candidates who are so openly lamented within their own parties. The system is not broken; it has proven once again that change mobilizes the masses. As a result, the television personality that I emulated is the Commander In Chief of our country.
Sydney Moreano: Feature Editor
I respect each American’s right to cast his or her ballot. I understand that these were not the ideal candidates for many this election. I recognize Republican angst over the past eight years at the Oval. What I cannot accept is female voters disrespecting themselves. I hurt for my loved ones and other women who will be reminded of their past sexual assault experiences every time they hear the phrase “Mr. President.” I wince at the slap in the face of women’s rights as a misogynist leads the nation. But most of all, I am utterly deflated and defeated at the female voters who disrespected themselves and the rest of us, who risked our progress, who risked our reproductive rights, who forgot that some of our protections are not unalienable. Who voted to send us backward against being judged by our appearances instead of our talent. He was not, and is not, your champion. And you should have recognized that.
“Can I sit with you on the boat ride back to Africa?” “Do you think we can play 21 Savage in the cotton fields?” I must admit, my Twitter peeps made me chuckle in the midst of complete disbelief that Donald Trump pulled out a presidential win. But all jokes aside, there is a bright side to this disheartening story. Following his win, Trump promised to bring the nation “together as never before,” and I truly believe he will. For my people – the Black community – the results of this election will revive our senses of self and redefine what it means to be Black in America. We have been a little too comfortable under the safety net of a Black president. But now shook, this is the moment we must come to our realities, join together, organize and awaken the Black community like never before.
Bradley Harrison: Opinion/Satire Editor
On Nov. 8, 2016, a dramatic “pop” sounded in Charleston. That was my bubble bursting the moment I realized Donald Trump was headed for presidency. What, not everyone thinks like me? Where are these Trump supporters coming from? Not my Twitter feed, obviously. I sat there wondering how people could reconcile the horrendous things Trump says and does. Then I read a Facebook post, “The amount of people taking the bait of what the mainstream media spouts about Donald Trump is unreal.” Considering this, I was forced to grasp the fact that everyone will believe only what he or she wants to believe. If a fact is a fact, but just half of a population believes it, is anything really true? The singular thing this election reiterates is a postmodern certainty in confusion and ignorance. The sole silver lining is that we might get more songs like YG’s “Fdt.”
*This article first appeared in the November 2016 issue of The Yard.