Students, overwhelmed with sadness and grief, flooded the streets of Downtown Berkeley and participated in a peaceful demonstration on the UC Berkeley campus.
In the midst of it all, the events also served as a catalyst for clubs to think and take action for the greater good of BHS. “We were really heartbroken at first and we felt like victims of this election. … We were able to quickly mobilize and think, ‘what can we do in the future to make our community stronger as well as bring awareness of Muslims at Berkeley High?’” said Muslim Student Association (MSA) Treasurer Emara Shabir.
In response to lingering pain, social justice clubs at BHS, such as the MSA, Black Student Union (BSU) and Chicano Latino United Voices (CLUV) have collaborated to create solidarity posters and to distribute “Know Your Rights” cards and handouts to BHS students.
Andrea Taylor-Alarcon, a CLUV member, said, “Our hopes were placed in that election, and it completely dropped, but then as a club, we took it in and reflected on the positive side of what we can do legally and community wise.”
The posters, personalized differently by each club, bring awareness to the respective communities that they represent and show support for targeted and oppressed communities to demonstrate what students can do to support and protect them.
For instance, Immane Chaudhry, MSA Co-President, said, “[During] a time when Islamophobia and harassment are regularly experienced by Muslim Americans, we thought it was really important for everyone in the community to understand what they could do if they ever witnessed someone being harassed whether it is because of their religion or anything else.”
In addition, Claire Oby, the other BSU Co-President, said “I think the posters are important to remind people that the fight is far from over… and we need to continue to be strong and focused.”
The Know Your Rights cards aim to educate students on their rights under the United States Constitution. The cards are another way to protect minorities who are often disadvantaged when their rights are being violated. “It is important for Muslims and other minorities to know their Constitutional rights so that they can stand up for them if they are ever challenged,” Chaudhry said.
Going forward, all clubs together want to further encourage their members and the BHS student body to resist to ensure protection in and outside school campus. At a time where tolerance for prejudice against minority groups is at an all time high, every school in the nation needs to be a sanctuary where students can feel safe to get an education. Oby added, “I think now it’s just important for the student body to keep that fire we had that day [of the post-election walkout], because his presidency is not going to be easy, and we have to be strong all together.”