On Wednesday, I participated in the anti-Trump rally on the Gizmo Patio and the subsequent march. After a campaign with such explicit racism and misogyny, Donald Trump’s success in the election was demoralizing for many, including myself. I appreciated the opportunity to hear students share their grievances, and I was comforted by the idea of uniting with my fellow students in a time where so much hate is celebrated.
At the rally, I was pleased to hear positive messages celebrating a new commitment to political involvement and standing up for our values of equality and justice. Unfortunately, I struggled to truly find unity. While I empathize with the angry feelings that were shared, I was disheartened to see my fellow students actively antagonizing Trump’s supporters. I saw our fellow conservative students standing on the sidelines, and I felt their isolation. When we began the march, I heard my fellow students actively shouting derogatory terms toward some of our conservative students. How is it that we were calling for peace while simultaneously firing shots of hate?
On the march, our movement vocalized how black, brown and all lives mattered. Subsequently, we shouted “F*** Trump” and “F*** his supporters.” Did all lives matter to us then? We demanded that our democracy be protected, but are we not being hypocritical by refusing to accept Trump’s electoral success? We called for unity, but did we not just perpetuate the divide in our very own community? We shouted that love doesn’t discriminate, but didn’t our actions actively marginalize our fellow conservative students? I think it’s interesting we go to such great lengths to ridicule Trump’s idea to build a wall when it seems that we stacked the bricks pretty high on our very own campus today.
I’m sorry, Knox College. I’m sorry, Galesburg. I’m sorry, United States. I can’t speak for anybody else, but I know I let you down today. While I kept silent when I didn’t agree with the words being shouted, I was complacent in an effort that isolated those who I must embrace most. I admit I am hurt by the election results, but I am not angry at Trump. If I cannot understand the movement that built his success, then I am not equipped to truly solve any of the problems I’m far too quick to identify. It is easy to be tolerant in my echo-chamber of liberalism at Knox, but my humanity is only realized when I accept the differences of others.
President Teresa Amott always says that we learn the most from those least like us, but the only way we can do that is if we open our ears and hearts to them. Now is not the time to grip our egos and be divisive. Now is the time to pull out a chair for those we disagree with, join them around the table, and truly start to craft holistic solutions together.