It was only the day after the election when millions of Americans found out Donald Trump would serve as our next President. Some of us went to bed before the results came out, some stayed up all night waiting for a change in the numbers, while others had faith that things would turn around, and there were those that were happy this election turned out the way it did. I watched Fox News Live and when the news commentator said “Donald Trump had a 75% chance of winning”, I knew then that I needed to rest my head.
I woke up in fear knowing that I had to face the world the next morning. I knew that I no longer could avoid the fact that Donald Trump would be the next President of the United States of America. I dreaded my walk to the shower. I didn’t even want to put my clothes on for the day. I just wanted to lay in bed and stare at the walls of the room. I closed my eyes and tried to convince myself that everything was okay, only to find myself wondering how I could survive the day ahead.
In the words of Solange, “I slept it away”.
I didn’t know if I should cry because of the results of this election. In fact I tried to cry, but no tears would come out. I just knew I had to go to school, work, and face my fears. I had to get myself together because life goes on. I tried not to have pity for myself because of the results of this election. I then looked on Twitter and saw that my peers were coming together and I wanted to be with them.
Yesterday, at the University of North Texas, students gathered around in solidarity for a public forum. This event was organized by the President of UNT’s Dedicated Men, Joshua O Okpara, and its members.The event that originally started at 11:00 AM went long after 5:00 PM. What started with a group of about 50 people, soon grew to about 200 throughout the day. This wasn't the first time UNT students have come together in time of need. We did it when Michael Brown was killed, we stood together in solidarity with Mizzou, when the preachers came to tell us we were “going to hell”, for Trayvon Martin, for Black women, for us all. However, this time was different.
The election of Donald Trump as America's next President is something that will not only affect one of us, but all of us. As the public forum went on, students went to the middle of the circle to address the crowd on how they were feeling. You could feel the depth of the emotions in the air. Students were crying, some stared blankly as if they hadn't quite grasped what had happened yet. While many others were furious, asking why this happened in the first place.
After our time of mourning, came the encouragement. Students grabbed one another and held each other tightly, wiping tears from each others eyes, continuing to tell the person next to them “everything would be alright”. Students then grabbed hands for a moment of prayer.
After the prayer, RTVF major, Chy'enne Fortson, came up to me to talk about my speech. We had an intimate conversation about her passion for creating documentaries and how she could use that to empower others throughout this movement. I told her that she had a true purpose and asked her if she was religious.
"I don't really have a religion" Fortson stated.
"However, I saw a friend from high school who was really emotional and the only way I knew how to comfort him was to stand with him in the prayer circle", "I wanted him to know that I was there for him".
Huriel Perez was another fellow student I talked to about the recent events.
"I have a lot of emotions, Perez stated. “I feel angry, sad, and afraid".
"I don't know how to express those feelings besides educating and just creating a safe space where we can have a dialogue with other people".
I walked around and found Russell Ballard Jr. and Aquarius Dickens sitting together after the forum with friends.
I asked Russell how he felt about the event today. He replied saying, "I feel amazing about what happened today, if we can come out here like this on a more regular basis, we will be in a better position so we can actually make change".
Student, Aquarius Dickens, stated how he felt about the elections.
"I just feel that today showed us our world as a whole and what big changes are about to come".
Although some may not agree, Dickens was right, a change is going to come. Donald Trump already has his 100 day plan set up for when he comes into office. The Republican party now has control of the House and the Senate. If there is anytime for us to get more invested in our communities, the time is now.
Around the library mall students experienced their own battles such as: sexual assault, racism, parents who were immigrants who may not be here tomorrow, simply existing as a person of color, cancer survivors, women, students with disabilities, those in the LGBTQIA community, and more. Each and every one of us could have something taken away come January. We are all living in fear for what will come or what could. However, the reality of this Presidential election was too far fetched for some Trump supporters to grasp. Although it was a public forum for all , some Trump supporters came to get a rise out of those that were mourning the recent event. Conversations got heated and we all had to remind each other of the purpose of the event.
Nevertheless, we were reminded that we must stand “as one”. We must all come together and support each other in our time of need. Now is not the time to sit back and watch someone else suffer, because it doesn’t only affect ourselves. Now is the time to stand for one another and not back down. Now is the time for us to get serious about our lives, our people, and our communities. Each one of us must use our gifts and talents to create the change we want to see.
"True resistance begins with people confronting pain... and wanting to do something to change it.” - Bell Hooks
Yesterday was the day we came together to confront our pain. To speak out about the fears we kept to ourselves. To let our peers know the struggles each one of us was facing. Lastly, begging for each other to understand our differences and fight for us all. Yesterday was the day where I found out that I was not alone. That I have a community that stands behind me to support me throughout this journey. Yesterday I fell in love with my school all over again and I was reminded the importance of solidarity.