Oberlin Blogs

We Will Grieve But We Will Not Give Up

November 10, 2016

Emma Davey ’18

At the moment I am writing this, I am crying. I cried when I went to bed last night. I cried when I woke up. I've shown no signs of stopping yet. I had food poisoning a couple days ago, and I felt better then. I am scared for the future, but I am a white, wealthy, straight, cis-gender female. I will make it out of this. Not unscathed, not whole, but I will find a way. For my friends and peers who don't have that privilege, I am truly sorry this country failed you, and I stand in solidarity.

I have many thoughts and they are circling my head in nebulous, angry clouds. I'm thinking of my grandma, who told me that she has never felt so threatened by a home-grown demagogue (including Joseph McCarthy and George Wallace). I'm thinking of my grandpa, a Mexican-American who did not fight in World War II just to see someone who said that Mexicans are rapists become president. I think of all the kids I worked with this summer who were excited about LGBT rights, about gun control, who plotted to overthrow Donald Trump. I am thinking of Obama's legacy of progressivism and what it all means now.

I voted for Hillary in the primary. I was ready, and remain ready, for the first woman president. I campaigned for her a few times. I once registered voters, and I canvassed twice. I thought I did my part. The polls were in our favor. I woke up on Tuesday with a hopeful feeling. I cried in the morning thinking about electing a female president. Someone who is so qualified and hardworking and smart. Someone who has made mistakes but has tried to learn from them. Somebody whose values I share. Someone who would build on Obama's legacy. And then we elected the man who started the birther movement.

If you're on these blogs right now, you're either my grandma or a prospective student (or a current Obie or an alum or a friend, but these blogs were designed for prospective students). That's why I can't sugarcoat this. If you're a prospie, you're probably wondering what happened in Ohio, and how Oberlin is going to deal. I will tell you right now that as of this moment, Oberlin is grieving. The final election results came in too late for anyone to see them in a public place, but I watched with others in Wilder and Azariah's as the election unfolded. People were crying and hugging each other. People looked afraid.

The blogs aren't really supposed to be a place for partisan discourse. But the truth of the matter is if you go to Oberlin, you are expected to uphold our legacy of progressive values. A legacy that includes being the first college to admit black and female students. That's what Oberlin College markets itself as. We are a notoriously lefty school. That is exactly what to expect if you choose to come here.

Because throughout my years at Oberlin, I have grown less and less satisfied with America, its history of racism, genocide, colonialism, sexism, homophobia, and xenophobia. That's thanks to my Oberlin education, which has been one of the most challenging but rewarding experiences. I have learned so much from professors and students alike, and it has made me a better person.

Some of you may know that I'm a politics major. Every time I say this to a stranger, they ask me what I think about the election. I usually muttered some non-partisan nonsense about how I wish it would be over, but I never really dug into specifics. I'm not holding back now. As a politics major, I am confused. I am confused because my professors are confused. I am perhaps a little disillusioned. But I am validated more than ever about why I chose this as my major, because I wanted to gain the tools and knowledge to bring change into the world. As someone who is also interested in writing and journalism, I am appalled with how media coverage led to Trump. A few weeks ago, I went to a speech by Alice Ollstein, an Oberlin alum (and former Oberlin blogger) now working in journalism, who talked about how the media bent over backwards to try to be unbiased and fair in its reporting of the candidates, how it gave Trump credibility. Who know what I'll do after graduation? As of now, I'd like to find a way to keep writing, to maybe turn that into a professional career. Regardless, these are important lessons to be learned.

I know deep down in my heart that love trumps hate. That the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. Martin Luther King Jr said that to us in the Oberlin commencement speech of 1965. If you haven't read that speech, you need to do it. It's entitled "Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution" and it is incredibly poignant now more than ever

In it, he implores us to do our part to fight racial inequality. To make sure that we uphold the legacy of Oberlin. Oberlin is a place of tremendous change and passion. I know we won't take this lying down. I have been comforted by the kindness I've seen at Oberlin - from professors, administrators, students. I went to a faculty panel recently and the turnout was amazing. It was about trying to make sense of the election. What do we do next. All the panelists thought they would be at a very different panel when they were asked to come weeks ago. It was packed. WOBC had to stream it because not everyone could fit.

People are smiling at each other more. People are hugging each other. As I walked into North the other day, I saw that the walls had been covered in chalk messages. The one that immediately caught my eye was a particularly fitting phrase. A quote from one of my favorite books, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. "Nolite te bastardes carborundorum." Don't let the bastards grind you down. It is often scary how fitting this dystopian fiction has become a reality, and how it could become even more so in this new presidency. I am still scared. But I have not lost hope. I cannot lose hope. I cannot be complacent. Trump wants a nasty woman? I intend to be the nastiest woman I can be.

I will end the best way I know how - to invoke someone smarter and wiser than myself, to quote Albus Dumbledore. Studies have shown that reading Harry Potter could make you a more tolerant person. I think we need that tolerance now more than ever.

"But you know, happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."

"Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy."

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