Sunday, October 22, 2017

We have compiled the poetry, photographs and various written reactions submitted by Berkeley High staff and students following the election results and school-wide walkout.

**Dear Berkeley High Families, Staff, and Students,

We, the administration of Berkeley High School, are writing to share with you our commitment to making this school a place where all students are safe and included, where differing experiences, backgrounds and viewpoints are welcome, and where we challenge and disagree with ideas, not with one another. On our campus, there has been a lot of hurt and anger while students, staff, and families grapple with the presidential election result. While our peaceful walkout and ensuing class discussions and activities have largely been a unifying force on our campus, there are at least a few instances where divisions and hurt feelings have resulted from students holding differing views and sharing them in a way that led to more hurt and anger as a result. We each have an important role to play in ensuring that BHS remains a school community for all students.

Families: we want to make it clear that while students – and all of us – enjoy our First Amendment rights to free speech, we are aware that around the country, this right is being twisted into hateful words and actions. At Berkeley High School, we commit to investigating any and all reports of hateful speech, with the intent to support students who disagree in being able to hold a dialogue in which all can be heard. When and if that speech crosses into territory that merits possible consequences or further administrative action, we will pursue it as necessary.

Teachers: many students report feeling depressed, unable to focus in class, and worried for their families’ futures. We ask that you pay close attention to the needs of your students, with increased attention and care for our Muslim, Jewish, LGBTQIA, female, immigrant, Latino, African American, Dreamers, or any other students who may feel increasingly targeted or unsafe in our current political climate.  Moreover, we reaffirm the City of  Berkeley’s  sanctuary status for Dreamers and remind everyone that we will not provide student information to ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) on the BHS campus. At the same time, we know that there are also many students who desire nothing more than to return to “normal” teaching and learning.  Knowing how to hold all these needs in one safe place  is one of the biggest challenges you are likely to face in these days ahead, and we are so thankful for your care for and support of our students as you do that.

Students: our legacy here at Berkeley High School has long been one of inclusion, celebration of diverse points of view, and a place where each person can find something they value and can be a part of.  You are the holders of this legacy, poised to model for our nation what thoughtful disagreement across differences looks like, what listening from the heart looks like, what activism looks like, and what unity looks like.  You are leaders and we are proud of you and will protect you and support you.

There is a role for each of us in this community to ensure that the legacy of BHS remain strong.  

In solidarity,

The Berkeley High School Administrative Team

Anjali Emsellem

I feel gutted. Much like many of you, I am struggling to understand how my life shifted so drastically over night. The process of comprehending this election feels much like the five stages of grief; denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. It is the first time in my life that I have felt collective trauma, the communal sadness, and the somewhat glimmer of beauty in our ability to be so vulnerable and feel this pain together. In the past few days, I have felt so grateful for my school, my family, my teachers, my friends, and Berkeley. The echo chamber obviously has complications, but I am so appreciative of the space I have here to feel emotions with all of you. There are three main ideas I have taken away from this past week.

We have each other. Trump’s hatred is not directed towards a few specific minority groups; we are all victims of Trump. Whether you are an immigrant, muslim, queer, trans, female, a person of color, a part of the lower-class, or a person who values this earth, we must tackle this era together. We may not entirely rule him over, but we will build a national support group that is immensely strong and unbreakable. We are in the midst of chaos but we have such fertile ground. As much as I feel the hopelessness, I already see potential. Just this week, I have cried in the arms of students I have never met, attended healing walks, spoke out in conversations with older activists, and been to incredible protests. I feel overwhelmingly connected to activism and my community. This connection will be our safety net when people are targeted.

We must think about where we are going to take risks in the next four years. As a woman, I feel the weight of Trump’s harassment and acceptance of rape culture  on my shoulders. I walk home every day and think about my life with possibly no planned parenthood, no available birth control, or no legal abortions. However, I also know that many of my peers in other communities are fearful of their lives right now. As focused as I will be on the fight for women’s rights, I must also follow the guidance of immigrant/muslim/people of color/latino activism. This election is so personal that we may feel the inclination to only fight our own battle, but I think that that is very dangerous. We must be empathetic and use our capabilities to kindle everybody’s movement, not just the one that feels most comfortable. I think that we must ask ourselves; how can we step out of our comfort zones to support people who feel the most vulnerable?

Lastly, it is so important that as students we take the time to learn from older teachers, parents, and community activists. They have wise knowledge and tools of social change that we must obtain in entering this era. Education is more pivotal than ever.

With that, let’s begin this fight, and do not forget to enjoy the last precious months of sweet Obama in the house.

Maxx Bernard

The Sonnet of Truth

When will the Republicans start to care?

Us anarchists and socialists must rise,

Ignorant laws are unjust and unfair,

Wishing that Trump was rotten with horseflies.

Where is the good in people in these days,

Where is justice when we need it the most,

We need to continue fighting always,

If the Evil comes, I will be your host.

But, the time has come for us, to have hope,

To protest and march to the streets of Hell,

We need to have the total strength to cope,

And we need unfiltered voices to yell.

Let us scream for the fight of our lives,

And finally celebrate with high fives.

The Rejected America

By Lawrence O’Neal

We have been knocked

down,

Beat down,

Turned down,

And more.

We have been rejected,

Unprotected,

Neglected, and then some

America, the country of freedom truly believes in the isms.

We are not their -isms,

Nor their -phobias.

We are relentless,

Tireless,

And believe in justice!

We will not give up!

We do not give up!

We have been beat

down, but we got up.

We have been torn down, but we get up.

America has rejected us.

But we have a purpose,

And for that purpose we fight.

It may be graceless.

It may be covered in tears and blood.

It may even result in broken bones and broken hearts.

But still we rise.

They want to reject us.

Then let them!

They want to neglect, and hate us,

Then let them!

Because we will never stay down!

The blood of fighters run through our veins.

Fighters who know hate.

Who know sleepless nights and immeasurable fear.

But still they survived,

And they live in us.

Our generation will survive.

And we will win!

Alejandro Gonzalez

I couldn’t believe it! How the hell was it possible that Donald Trump had become president of the United States of America, the most powerful country in our world? How could an inexperienced man filled with so much hate even be considered for such a position? Was it really possible that so many people in the US supported him? I just couldn’t comprehend how someone in his or her right mind would approve of or tolerate such catastrophic behavior.

That night, I lost faith in our country. I became sick to my stomach as an overwhelming sense of disappointment overtook my body. Each electoral vote in favor of Trump deteriorated the little bits of hope that I had within me. Not only had he offended my people and ethnicity, by calling us murderers and rapists, but he had oppressed many other minorities and groups with his hateful comments. The newly elected president was one who hated everything about us. Unfortunately, in our society, the color of our skin determines what we may be, rather than who we actually are. Stereotypes are merely ignorant beliefs that inhibit one to see the reality of another. So I encourage that next time, you think before you speak. It is always better to ask and become aware, rather than make assumptions that could potentially hurt someone.

I immediately thought of everyone with a similar background to me. I, as many other Latinos, was fortunate enough to be born in the US and remain safe of deportation thanks to the sacrifices that my parents had made when immigrating to this country. However, I couldn’t help but think of the millions of others who didn’t have that luck. Knowing that the fate of many undocumented people, who had fled their home country due to factors such as extreme violence and poverty, now lied in the hands of Trump was heartbreaking. It hurt me to think that so many people who had worked hard to seek a stable and better future could have their dreams crushed. The thought of families being separated due to this only made everything so much more painful.

As a Mexican, I can only express how proud I am to be part of such beautiful and rich culture, to be a part of a community that possesses great attributes and a magnificent history. Being an individual of brown complexion can be both extremely satisfying and fearful. I am satisfied with who I am as a human but also scared at times because I don’t know if others may perceive me negatively. However, I know that no matter my skin color, I am someone of great value to society and no one can convince me of otherwise; in the end, every individual is essential to our world. It doesn’t matter what the color of our skin is, because tone does not determine our importance, all it does is negatively influence our minds.

It is as much of my responsibility as it is of yours, to share and learn about one another’s cultures and values. With this education, we are able to become informed and gain an open mind. By doing so, we can unite, come together, and stand up against the hate of those like Trump. Only in this way can we be aware of everyone’s problems and truly address issues within our society by advocating for everyone’s rights. I encourage everyone who disapproves of this years presidential election outcome to keep fighting the hate with unity and peace. Let us stand by one another, as a family, who fights for the only true race: the human race!

Arlo moore-bloom

I volunteered to work at the polls on this year’s election day. I worked from 6AM to 9PM, and I was exhausted by the end of it. What kept me going, though, was the wonder, pride, and hope I have for election day. Wonder that we as citizens can change our lives–for the better–through action, organization, and eventually legislation. Pride that I live in a country with a system where we decide who governs us. Hope that we, as an American people, will make the right decision on who will be the next president of the United States. During the day I was confident. I had been checking 538’s election forecast daily, and besides Comeygate, Clinton looked to be a lock for the presidency. Imagine that. A woman running our country. What a great example not just for younger American generations but for the whole world. The whole day I was thinking, “Wow, tomorrow a woman is going to be president of the United States. This is going to be historic.”

When I got out of the poll work, many of the votes from across the country had already been counted and projections had been made. I thought I was reading it incorrectly at first. I was in a state of shock for the next few hours; I gave my mom and dad a hug, and we tried to come to terms with what we were watching. We couldn’t.

What this election brought to light was the failure of many important facets of our country. The media failed us this election; they sacrificed truth and honesty for clicks and retweets. The pollsters and the pundits got it wrong, and they must be held accountable. What that looks like though is unclear.

The bigotry in this election is what troubles many Americans, and I am certainly one of them. However, I think it’s important to understand why it had seemingly so little negative effect (if anything, a positive effect) on Trump’s campaign. For many Trump voters, their vote was a repudiation of the establishment. It was a “I don’t like where this country is, and Trump is someone new who’s going to change it”. Unfortunately, Hillary Clinton could not have been a worse candidate to counter that sentiment. From schmoozing with Wall Street to her extensive political career, Clinton symbolized the establishment and everything that was wrong with it. No, not all Trump voters voted for Trump because they’re racist or sexist. Some were, certainly, but to say that all 48 million people (and that’s a lot!) are racist sexists, is ignorant. It’s a nice liberal thought to have, but it only reaffirms the biased notion that conservatives are disrespectful bigots.  

It’s undeniable that Trump voters are more tolerant of racism and misogyny than others, but whether that’s because of their values or because of their circumstances is difficult to tell. As David Brooks, a columnist for the New York Times pointed out, “If you were stuck in a jobless town, watching your friends OD on opiates, scrambling every month to pay the electric bill, and then along came a guy who seemed able to fix your problems and hear your voice, maybe you would stomach some ugliness, too.” Many of these “jobless towns” are, in fact, the places where people came out to vote for Trump in never before seen droves. Disregarding Trump supporters as “deplorables” only feeds fuel to the Trump phenomenon. Don’t forget, 16% of eligible voters in Alameda county voted for Trump…

I hope that the next four years are as not as bad as I think they are going to be. I hope that my fellow students will see this election as a call to action, not as a reason for dismay.

Alejandro Valez

Not all men assault women, not all men violate women, not all men … These phrases were once part of my vocabulary but no more. It is very easy for us males to feel anger at being grouped into the offender’s list when partaking in discussions of sexual assault. Women have every right to be afraid of interactions with men; we have been socialized to have more power and control than women in many situations. One of the most urgent matters is in the sexual world where men feel entitled to sex whenever they are let into her room or her home. The idea being that if she doesn’t say something, then she is game for whatever; this is wrong. As men, we are not entitled to anything. We are to be delighted by what the woman agrees to. Said agreement is to be a verbal affirmative, in the view of “yes” or “go ahead,” the notion of “no means no” is outdated.

Men tend to believe we are respectful if we stop at the first utterance of the word “no.” It is high time to shift our mentality, to believe ourselves respectful if we ask for permission. What happens if we don’t ask permission? Then we have made a fatal error and an illegal one at that; women find it quite difficult to say no to males. Males use this unspoken, potent force over women to their advantage — sometimes without meaning to — by proceeding with the sexual escalation. At every and any stopping point, there must be a place for us, as men, to get a green light. This permission can be to have sex, to touch her body in sensitive areas, anything; it is all about permission. Any action without consent is a direct violation of a woman’s agency, and we men must realize this. I understand that seeking permission can break the mood, but as my father used to tell me, “Better a red moment than a pink life.” Barreling through intimate moments without verbal consent has the potential to emotionally harm the women we want to be closer to.

    All women have the right to be afraid of assault and violation. One in four women are assaulted, and we are to be their support network, not a network of individuals who try to conquer them. There is no need to have a world where one gender is intimately oppressed. It is sickening that there are men in society who continue to neglect women’s bodies, minds, and souls. I urge all men, all boys, all of us, to ask permission. We are not entitled to sex, or oral sex, or making out, or a touch go the genitalia. Whenever a discussion surrounding women and their sexuality arises we must listen, provide a safe venue for women. Remember, they have agency too, and it is our job to respect them and their choices without fail. As my history professor stated, “Not all men, but yes all women.”

Caroline Rudel

The Tears of Stars 

The cool wind blows past, and the sun retreats, casting shadows upon the old building. It’s rough tan and white color scheme does it no favors. Paint is peeling off the edges like teardrops down a cheek, and the shutters on the windows are gone, leaving the hinges waiting, forlorn, for what has been torn away. The setting sun reflects bright and blinding on the dusty panes of the window, contrasting with the unforgiving blue that coats the space above it, marred only by a faint wisp of cloud. Over the top of the building, a flag pole rises sharply, jutting into the sky. Alone, it stands stark and bright in its solitude. The accompanying flag hangs from the pole limply, occasionally waving a bit in the breeze. The stripes fall in a sad diagonal, as if to communicate its despair, the weight of oppression on its stars and stripes. For all it has stood for is lost. Equality, Justice, Unity. The pillars on which our nation stands have rotted and crumbled away, and what has it to represent now? Today marks defeat, and the flag knows it as well as we. It hangs there as if to empathize. It’s sadly fluttering banner says, ‘I understand. I too, am sorry.’

Farida Salifou

I can’t sleep

The world is bleeding, and the copper seeps

into my skin.

A younger version of myself weeps

for who I’ve become.

Eyes that watch as humans are caught

in this web of their own creation.

They sought asylum in hearts

empty as their own,

bought remedies that cured their need for change,

but let their ailments fester.

I am no longer human

but a body lost among men

that rush to their waiting graves

without direction.

What is life but an organized series of inspections

of character?

Stand up straight or face rejection

from the people who never gave you their protection.

Why are you here?

Can’t you hear their words of hate ringing in your ears,

that they want you to live in fear

of yourself?

Don’t turn around, look

At that reflection, look,

Do you see the emptiness? Look,

In those eyes, there, look

Can’t you see? It’s you. It’s me.

It’s everyone. It’s the world.

Don’t you see? This is why

I can’t sleep.

The world is bleeding, and the anger seeps

into my skin.

The younger version of myself weeps

As the anger wins.

-Farida Salifou

Kaja Arusha

Trump

Not a pretty word

Not fun to be said, not fun to be heard

Not fun to be spoken aloud or in quiet

But he’s here now, we cannot deny it

Easier said than done

He’s a man full of hatred

Lust and discrimination

These traits plus power, a horrible combination

An unthinkable equation

Equaling

Our president

“But not OUR president” we say

To make us feel better about being “less than” cause we’re gay

About being undocumented, not having equal pay

Or control of our own bodies, day after day

Yet

He’s still here

Saying he’s not our’s won’t make him disappear

Nothing will

Now that sounds pessimistic and yes it is bleak

Of this awful man our country will reek

Until there comes a time when the people will seek

For a solution

And some say we’re already working

But they do not comprehend

The true power of a nation

All the hands and voices we will lend

Because we will fix this f*cking country

It’s time for it to mend

Cause 2016 is not the time when all of America will end

We Have to Try

Eliza Smith

When I found out that Donald Trump was going to be America’s next president, I did not think about his revolting tendencies or the terrible things he might do as president. And perhaps it is a testament to my privilege that my initial reaction was not fear. But for whatever reason, I was not afraid or angry. More than anything, I was discouraged. Rather than thinking about the ramifications of a Donald Trump presidency, I found myself thinking about the millions of Americans who voted for him. The sheer number of Americans who either support or are comfortable with his blatant xenophobia proves, to me, that political change is nothing without social change.

On paper, the United States has made great progress. We’ve legalized gay marriage, elected a black president, and taken steps toward supporting immigrants and their children. Based on these political developments, one would deem the American people an extremely progressive bunch. But an extremely progressive bunch would have found Donald Trump revolting. And the American people clearly did not (as a whole).

Donald Trump’s election is a reminder that, for better or worse, living in a democracy means living in a country shaped by the will of the people. So political change cannot have real, lasting impacts until it is supported by social change. It is not that political change is not necessary. It’s just that social change is necessary too.

And that realization was difficult for me to swallow. Because social change is HARD. There are clear strategies for producing political change. The road to social change is fuzzier. How do you convince people that your morals are right and theirs are wrong? How do you approach someone whose upbringing has been so drastically different from yours, such that you have no basis for discussion? What’s more, I couldn’t help feeling that social change is a never-ending struggle. I couldn’t help asking myself: does anything ever really change?

There have always been racists and sexists and xenophobes. Plus, progressive social change is exactly that: progressive. So while racists today are perhaps less racist than racists were one hundred years ago, progressives today have also progressed, meaning that the gap remains the same. This could be understood as positive — we are continually moving toward a more just society. But it’s also discouraging. It essentially means that there will always be racists.

As a member of a youth movement that focuses on education and social change and as an individual who has planned to develop a career in social change, I found myself in a place of questioning: Why bother working toward social change if the need for it will never end?

This is a privileged question. A question which can only be asked by people for whom social change is optional, and not life-changing. But it is one I found myself facing, and I’m sure has been faced by many other privileged people. And in truth, I do not have a good answer. All I have to say is that you have to try.  Something is better than nothing, and trying is something.

When people are suffering, we cannot sit around and say: Sorry, it has always been this way. There’s nothing we can do. We have to try. And maybe we will not see a utopia or even a female president in this lifetime. But we have to try. Because as much as it seems that history, human nature, all odds are against justice, accepting the status quo means ensuring stagnation. It means ensuring that we will never see utopia. Or a female president. And whether logical or not, that is absolutely not something I am willing to do.

Athena Chin

To my Asian American friends, I am writing this because it is past midnight, and I cannot sleep without gathering my thoughts … Anyways.

Being a part of the Asian American community, sometimes I wonder where we stand in these protests and where we fit within America’s race relations. I know that feeling of ambivalence … We are still trying to understand the invisibility of our race in our country’s culture and political discourse, and part, if not the majority, of this feeling of uncertainty comes from being stereotyped as the “model minority.” To me, this myth is dangerous because it separates us from other minority groups. It forces one identity among the Asian American community and undermines interracial solidarity and our voices, but we don’t have to live under the shadow of that myth or the silence and compliance expected from us. Anti-Asianism persists; however, we do not walk down the streets fearing for our lives. People don’t shout “terrorists,” “rapists,” or “criminals” at us. We have more privilege, and more than ever, we need to speak up. We cannot remove ourselves from the struggle at a time like this.

And to my Black and Brown and Muslim and Jewish and undocumented friends and all of the marginalized groups that have been threatened, although I am still learning more about myself and my community, I know for certain that I stand with you. We stand with you. You have our love and support, and we will continue this fight for our future with you.

Anonymous

I am tired. I am tired of being considered a minority because I am a woman, because I don’t feel like one. I feel like the strong independent woman that I am, and that I am growing to be. I am tired of being considered “inferior” to white males. Whoever came up with the idea that what you look like should affect how you are viewed as an intellect in modern society? I am tired of hearing about women being sexually assaulted and harassed following Trumps presidency, thinking that what they are doing is okay, because our president is doing it. I am tired of being looked down upon for being a beautiful woman, rather than being appreciated for being an intelligent, strong, and loving person. I am tired of being scared for my safety while walking the streets alone at night. I am tired of carrying something in my bag to protect me from crazy men at all times. I am tired of being catcalled in the streets of San Francisco, always worrying about whether I am wearing something too provocative, when I should be worrying about if I like my outfit. I am tired of not thinking that I am smart enough, of being told that males are stronger, smarter, and better than I am. For example, when I try to express an answer that I thought was correct in my class, I told my group and the first thing a guy in my class says is “No.” No explanation, no “I don’t think that is correct.” It turned out that I was correct. He didn’t even apologize. I have noticed in many of my IB classes that many white males think that they have the ultimate power and think that they are always correct. I am not trying to be bias against every single white man, but the ones that I have seen and heard have represented and tainted my visions of the majority of them. Having our new SO-called “President” be one of these men disgusts me. We need to train our boys to be respectful of women, not to teach them to look down upon the women in their lives, as the should be role model for the United States of America is and will continue to do. I cannot continue to express how repulsed I am by the females in this country that voted for a man who shut down the idea of women being intelligent. I cannot even begin to express how disgusted I am that a little less than half of our country voted for somebody who hates the idea of everything that I am. How it even got to this point is beyond me. I am tired of being shut down. We will not stop trying to let our voices be heard. Donald Trump stands for everything that I am not, and he is NOT my president.

By Renee Revolorio-Keith

Yo

Soy la lucha de mis criados. Soy

los llantos de mi pátria

esclavizada, perseguida, desgarrada.

Yo soy la resiliencia de mi pueblo.

Yo soy tan fuerte como el amor que une nuestros manos,

tan gruesa como la sangre que recorre nuestras venas.

Si me siento fuerte, es porque mis ancestros levantaron sus puños

en vez de girar la mejilla.

Si me encuentras saludable, es porque he visto

las heridas de puñalada de Helen Mack. He escuchado

los gritos de Don Celso

cuando sus hijos fueron desaparecidos.

He sentido la resistencia

dentro de Edwin,

que lo llevó a sobrevivir en los campos de maíz

mientras su familia yacían muertos

solo un par de metros de distancia.

Y si me quedo sin palabras, entienda

que mi voz canta como la música de la marimba.

Entienda que mi amor travesa fronteras,

y que mis pies se mantienen firmemente

plantados en mi historia. Entienda que yo

he sufrido los agujeros de bala que marcan a Berta Cácares.

Oye! Escucha las canciones de mi lucha

las que me cantaban mi papá de niña.

Escucha el llanto de mi alma

que se niega ser encerrado en cadenas.

Escucha el sonido de nuestros pies

marchando.

Camina conmigo cuando lucho por mi libertad.

 

Translation

I

Am the struggle of my parents. Am

the cries of my homeland

enslaved, persecuted, ripped open.

I am the resilience of my people.

I am as strong as the love that joins our hands

as thick as the blood that runs through our veins.

If I feel strong, it is because my ancestors raised their fists

instead of turning their cheek.

If you find me to be healthy, it is because I have seen

the stab wounds on Helen Mack. I have heard

the screams of Don Celso

when his children were disappeared.

I have felt the resilience

inside of Edwin,

which led him to survive in the fields of corn

while his family lay dead

only a couple of meters away.

And if I am left speechless, just know

that my voice sings like the music of the marimba.

Know that my love crosses borders

and that my feet stay firmly planted

in my history. Know that I

have suffered the bullet wounds that mark Berta Cácares.

Oye! Listen to the songs of my struggle

the ones my dad used to sing to me when I was a girl.

Listen to the cries of my soul

which refuses to be held in chains.

Listen to the sound of our feet

marching.

Walk with me as I fight for my liberation.

By Segen Araya

On election day I expected Hillary Clinton to win. It was obvious to me. She’s overly qualified, very experienced, and has dedicated her whole career to public service and helping others. I mean, how could Donald Trump win if he’s inexperienced, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, islamophobic, xenophobic, and more? At the time that sounded ridiculous, Trump was a joke to me. He’s an actual stale cheeto, how can he be our president?

When Donald Trump was announced the 45th president of the United States, my heart dropped and it hasn’t come back up since. I went to bed angry, exhausted, and anxious and prayed that this was all some kind of messed up prank. Trump winning was a wakeup call. I woke up the next day and burst into tears when I realized that over 60 million people in my country voted for and supported a person who is against everything I believe in. Over 60 million people in my country decided racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, classism, ableism, and inexperience wasn’t a dealbreaker when voting for president. I went to school fighting back tears because my country elected a president who actively hates every aspect of my identity and my family’s identity. I couldn’t focus in class all day because my mind was racing. I was and am terrified. I’m afraid that my rights will be taken away. I’m afraid I won’t have the rights to my body as a woman, I’m afraid I won’t have my rights to marriage as a queer person. I’m afraid I won’t be able to afford healthcare anymore because Obamacare is getting repealed. I’m afraid my undocumented family members will get deported. I’m afraid Trump supporters will think it’s acceptable to be outwardly racist and hateful toward people of color. I’m afraid for anyone who isn’t a middle class able-bodied cis-gendered straight white man.

When I heard that a walkout was happening, I was looking forward to feeling unified and feeling solidarity by listening to the stories of other students at this school who I deeply relate to. At first the walkout made me very emotional. Every time I thought I recovered from crying about one person’s experience, I ended up just crying again when the next person told their story. Once we all left campus to march the streets of Berkeley, I felt very empowered. Walking out was uplifting  and inspiring even though the protests won’t change the fact that Donald Trump is our president elect. We shared our stories and stood with each other which is the most we can do at this moment as a community. I’m extremely proud of everyone who shared their story and to everyone at BHS and other schools that protested with us.

Although this walkout was empowering for the BHS community, we can’t forget about people who aren’t Trump supporters who aren’t privileged to live in such a liberal and relatively accepting city like Berkeley. I can’t imagine what it’s like for someone with a similar situation with mine to live in a conservative town in the deep south, or are constantly surrounded with the horrifying people who support Trump. My hearts breaks for anyone feeling even more isolated, afraid, and unsafe as I do, even with the added comfort of the Bay Area.

Despite the fact that Trump will be our president whether we like it or not, we can not normalize this. We cannot normalize having such a vile, inexperienced, discriminatory bigot as our president. We must keep fighting and we need to continue to love and support one another so we can get through these next four hellish years together in unity and strive for a better, more qualified president that will represent every person in this country come next election.

Micheal Peck

I am extremely disappointed, confused and dumbfounded with the election results. Somber would have to be the closest word to describe how I am feeling.

           HOW COULD PEOPLE VOTE FOR A MAN WHO HAS NO MORALITY FOR ANYONE? The humanitarian acts of equality just aren’t showing! This clearly emphasizes the greed that parts of America possesses. Wanting to “restore the country” is one thing, but electing a radical president to do the job is another. We all want change — yes we do, but slow, steady, realistic change is what we yearn for.

            While staying at home for a day after the election results were announced, I have processed the traumatic wound that has been placed upon our country. I conclude that Obama came in our path to teach us about hope, love, unity and support. Then, Donald Trump came in 2016 to teach us that we STILL NEED TO CONTINUE expressing that same feeling even when the world is gyrating into complete turmoil. I have hope for mankind. After seeing the outrage in many people all over the world, I believe that we can fix things. We will not silence ourselves when the injustice acts approach our society! Now is the time for us all to put our differences aside and unite in order to create a world that is willing to accept everyone.

Rebeca Torres

I’m a ghost within myself. I’ve been afraid for several years to have my voice heard. I travel in a world in which I have to realize I’m not in a dream, but in reality. The words “Not Our President” travel around my mind and won’t fade away. I can’t process the idea that we have a president who is sexist, racist, and xenophobic. My brothers and sisters are in pain. I don’t have the ability to fix their pain. I won’t hold my voice anymore, and I must be the voice of others. This country has been set up for people like me to have obstacles in the way. We have had to work twice or even three times as hard to be successful.

I’m an undocumented student who has been through a road in which obstacles were set. I question what defines me from others. What defines the obstacles I must go through is the fact that I’m a minority within a minority; I’m a Latina and undocumented. I have been surrounded by a variety of environments where I have been excluded and looked down on, with everyone defining me. I let them all define me, but I have never defined myself. After the election, I wasn’t able to hold back my tears; the pain couldn’t be healed. Trump has the idea of deporting three million undocumented people, and in several occasiones he mentions that, “When Mexico sends its people … they’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” People have crossed the border in order for a better future for themselves and even their families. I’m tired of the stereotypes that surround me and others. The election has destroyed me physically and mentally. I have been through a long journey, but I won’t give up just yet. I have a lot to do for my community in order to advocate for those who don’t have a voice. I’m going to fight for justice, equality, and respect for all ethnicities. My ancestors fought in movements and put in time and effort in order to make a change in this country. I will always remember what Cesar Chavez said: “Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not oppressed anymore.”

My name is Adriana Johnson.

I am a senior in AMPS. I am numb. At first, I did not know what I felt. I watched when he openly said African American people are lazy and when he said Mexican Americans are rapists and criminals. I am African American; I know African Americans and Mexican Americans who work their ass off to break the cycle that may exist in their families and to show the world that they can overcome the oppression and stereotypes we face. He disrespects women openly. People support him. He calls Muslim Americans terrorists because few have killed. People support him. He and his cabinet believe in shock therapy for the LGBTQ. People support him. He openly mocked a disabled reporter at his idiotic rally. People support him. I simply cannot understand how Americans who claim themselves to have liberty for all can support a man who offends the American people themselves. I am certain many Americans have no idea what liberty for all means.

My thoughts on the walkout:

I am proud to go to a school that blatantly stands up and speaks out against discrimination. We Berkeley are unified in protesting and speaking for the voiceless. We Berkeley are United.

Maggie Galloway

Dear Republican Elector,

I am Maggie Galloway and I am 17 years old. On the morning of November 9, 2016 I woke up from a dream to a nightmare: Donald J Trump had been elected President of the United States. This is not about Hillary Clinton or Democrats and Republicans, this is about a man who would destroy everything that America has worked so hard for over the past 240 years.

Donald Trump aims to “make America great again,” but for many citizens, there was no greater time in America because of the oppression they faced (and still face). Was America great in the 1800s when much of our country was enslaved? Or the 1910s when women could not vote and were unanimously thought of as inferior to men? Or the 1940s when Japanese Americans were forced to live in inhumane conditions because the country they loved thought they were spies? Or the 1950s when people of color were still considered second-class citizens? Donald Trump aims to regress this country instead of progress it, and while some of us may not be directly impacted, the reverberations will be heard in every home in America.

This is not about Democratic or Republican values. This is about human values. This election has proved beyond a doubt that our country is incredibly divided and that many Americans feel like their voices aren’t being heard. But Donald Trump is not the president to fix it; in fact, he will exacerbate it. I believe he will not follow through on many of his promises that seem so attractive to those disillusioned with the previous rhetoric in Washington DC. He will alienate and prosecute women, Muslims, Jews, African Americans, Latinos, LGBT+ individuals, and immigrants, among others. I believe the Republican party and many of those who voted for Trump do not promote such actions, but instead were understandably looking for a change from the current establishment, but Donald Trump cannot be that change. He will send our country into a civil war instead of mending the deep divisions in our country.

I do not have any anger or malice in my heart about the results of this election. Instead I am paralyzed with terror. I’m terrified that my friends and their families will get deported because of the color of their skin, the country their ancestors hail from, or the religion they practice. I am terrified as a young person to have to navigate my first years of adulthood in a country tearing itself apart. I am terrified as a women to have a president who shrugs off sexual harassment and assault. I am terrified that I will have to raise children in a country where I cannot with confidence tell them that bullies and villains never win in the end.

The founding fathers created the electoral college for a situation such as this. The fate of the country is in your hands, and I beg you not to cast your electoral vote for Donald Trump for our country’s future, my future, and the future of those yet to come.

Sincerely,

Maggie Galloway

Natasha Marder

(from my journal the morning after the election)

Dear Journal,

I can’t even begin to describe the horror that the US has just gone through. I cried for hours last night and could easily cry again. Hillary Clinton has inspired me so much as a woman and a person, and I am horrified that she didn’t win. Seeing Hillary supporters makes me cry. Seeing my friends’ faces makes me cry. Talking to my family makes me cry.

BHS will most likely have a walkout and a blackout today. I will wear black because I feel dark inside and because I mourn the rights of my friends, family, and myself. I feel hopeless in a time where hope is necessary. Hillary has worked so hard and deserves this so much. I can’t even begin to understand how this happened. Our system is messed up. This isn’t a democracy if the woman who was loved by the majority or even just chosen by the majority loses to the racist, sexist, homophobic, islamophobic, xenophobic … loser!

Barakah Zakira

Fear is something that I have always grown up with, something that I have had to learn to deal with over the years. Except, my fears were never monsters under the bed, or dark rooms, or not getting my most favorite things on my birthdays. My fears were deep. My fears shook me to my core. My fears were more like: will I go out today and get laughed at because of my skin color? Will I get to school today and get teased again because of my thick and wooly hair? Will someone yell at my mom again in public because she ‘looks like a terrorist’? Will we get disgusted glances and stares the next time we go into a grocery store? Will my brothers and I feel unsafe again? Will the girls at school not want to hang out with me because I look different? With time and some not so good experiences, I had finally learned how to manage my fears. Then, something crazy happened. Donald J. Trump was elected as our next president. I was shocked, not because he won, but because we were actually going to go from someone like Barack Obama all the way down to someone like Donald Trump. I could not believe that. It almost felt like we’d spent Obama’s entire presidency ravelling up a very large roll of yarn, filled with new ideals and perspectives on community and love, only to have someone come along, grab onto a stand, and run with wind, unravelling the entire thing without any difficulty whatsoever. Something broke inside of me. Not immediately, but a few days later when the severity of the situation started to sink in. After I stumbled through my stages of denial, I really began to realize what this actually meant for me and for people like me. Let it be known that I am not just afraid, but angry. So angry. Rightfully, justifiably, and historically angry. In my older years, I have gotten comfortable, and often don’t differentiate myself from others around me based on my physical description (I think that I have Berkeley to Thank for that). But lately, being an African-American, Muslim, Female, I have found myself staring blankly into the mirror — my eyes swelling with tears — far more often. I have feared walking home alone in the middle of the day. I have found myself going the extra mile to make sure that people see the smile on my face, hoping and praying that they don’t judge me, or snatch off my hijab, or call me a terrorist, or even give me the ‘she’s a terrorist’ look. I have refrained from speaking as openly in public places. But all the while struggling because I don’t want people to mistake my silence as me being oppressed as a Muslim female. And even with my extremely feminist ways of thinking, I have even begun questioning my femininity, my strength, my intelligence, and my capability. In classes that I have less friends with, I fear my voice, my opinions, and sometimes even my own presence. Being someone who has always had ups and downs with self esteem, self love, and confidence, I am definitely at an all time low. Nonetheless, Donald Trump isn’t the person that worries me. It’s his supporters, and all the crazy things I have heard about them doing to people who fit my exact descriptions. This election has made me feel like a restart button was hit, and not the good kind. The kind that only makes things ‘great’ for a specific group of people but isolates and demoralizes another. “Make Amerika great again.” Again? I started thinking and I could not recall a time when things were better for women like me in this country. I started thinking some more and I could not recall a time when things were better for Muslims in this country either. Then, I really got to thinking and I definitely could not recall a time when things were “great” for my Black brothers and sisters. I started thinking and I could not come up with a time in Amerika’s past where I would fit, both comfortably and happily. This saddens me, yes, but it also makes me want to look ahead for greater things whilst also picking up knowledge from those before me along the way. Instead of looking for a time in the past where I would fit, a time that could have and should have, been better for someone like me, I will run my way through all barriers, headed straight for the future that I want for myself, and for every oppressed person in this country. This election has torn me to pieces but has also glued and fixed something else that was broken inside of me. This election hurts me, because so many people hate so much, but it has also pushed me to embrace and spread more love. I took a real beating with this election, I have broken down and cried for hours on end, feeling utterly and entirely hopeless. Along the way, my body has been naturally picking itself back up and building pieces that are stronger than ever. This election may bring out the worst in some people, but I will force it to bring out my best.

Miguel Angel Cristobal Frias

This is what making America great looks like, spreading peace and unity. Not through hate and division. We all came together sharing the same feeling of ire and frustration after the election. We gathered together to protest against our new president-elect, not to look for an excuse to skip class. We gathered together to empower a new movement where we, the youth, voice our opinions. Where we, the community of people of color, the LGBTQ community, and all of those being oppressed, could unite and put an end to the era of a fascist presidency before it even begins.

Normani Patterson

Dear America,

Congratulations on selecting a sexual predator to protect you, your mother, and your children. It is so fascinating that we have elected a rapist to build a wall to keep out immigrant rapists. We have officially sh*tted on women’s rights. We have condoned that sexual molesters are meant to govern, and 16-year-old shoplifters deserve life in prison. Women beware, your greatest nightmare can be next door or staring at you through a screen.

Best Wishes,

Normani Patterson

No Disrespect

No disrespect to you America, but my parents didn’t sacrifice their lives for land that’s not united

No disrespect to you America, but Imma stay here with my family

No disrespect to you but America, but Imma protest for what’s right

No disrespect to you America, but we didn’t come this far to be silent

No disrespect to you America, but people of color didn’t protest to go nowhere

No disrespect to you America, but you can’t mute a voice that’s united

No disrespect to you America, but you don’t know the stories of my people

No disrespect to you America, but you don’t know the strength of my family

No disrespect you America, but you’re not called illegal

No disrespect to you America, but you’re not told to go back to your country

No disrespect to you America, but you don’t understand the definition of fear

No disrespect to you America, but you’re not a joke in people’s eyes

No disrespect to you America, but it’s hard to take you seriously.

No disrespect to you America, but you’re disrespectful.

Jonas LaMattery-Brownell

What, to the Afghan, is this American election? Bush invaded, Obama surged, neocon, neoliberal, Worst-President- Ever (so far) or Nobel Peace Prize President … yet the U.S. bombs drop on, and on.

On November 10, 2016, the United Nations launched an investigation into something dismaying for its regularity rather than shock: U.S. airstrikes a week prior that killed over 30 civilians near Kunduz, Afghanistan. Most victims were women and children.

Kunduz, Afghanistan: ring a bell? On October 3, 2015, U.S. airstrikes killed 42 people at the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) trauma hospital in Kunduz. Through an hour, pinpoint strikes by a U.S. AC-130 Gunship hit the hospital’s busy ICU in bombing waves also targeting other patient areas, and machine-gunned patients, doctors, and staff fleeing outside.

Days before the attack, MSF once again gave the hospital’s GPS coordinates to the U.S. war command. Halfway through the attack, MSF staff connected calls to U.S. war officials, shouting “Stop!” In the ICU, one survived. Elsewhere, shrapnel bombs amputated legs and performed a decapitation. Patients burned to death in their beds, screaming.

These U.S. atrocities are just a drop of blood on the blood-soaked pages of Afghanistan’s decades of war imposed by foreign powers. The Watson Institute estimates from 2001 to August 2016, the period of this continuing US war (our longest), more than 31,000 civilians have perished violently. Further effects: exacerbated poverty, malnutrition, poor sanitation, absent health care, and environmental degradation.

97,000 Afghan children now suffer severe acute malnutrition. A 2016 Human Rights Watch report notes, “At least a quarter of Afghan children between ages 5 and 14 work for a living to help their families.” These little millions labor in carpet weaving, metal work, brick making and other industries, acquiring carpal tunnel syndrome, neuralgia, respiratory illness, and grievous, sometimes mortal wounds. The greatest military in history watches.

There is a profound difference between a racist rapist showman — and an interventionist neoliberal stateswoman. Still, both have helped build a wall, the one between “us” and “other.”

Voices for Creative Nonviolence filmed Afghan children in 2009: “[W]e are confident that … the LOVE and CONSCIENCE that sits in the kinder and less self-absorbed depths of every human heart can CHANGE the devious adults in the very same hearts and that this humane humanity can no longer be hidden…”

Arthur Lovekin

Not Our President

“NOT OUR PRESIDENT!  NOT OUR PRESIDENT!” The crowd roars around me. But of all of the chants, I am least comfortable with this one. Because Donald Trump is our President. He has been elected fairly and democratically, and denying it isn’t helping anything. I don’t want to be a hypocrite who only supports democracy when it works in my favor. We should respect the majority, and give Donald Trump a chance to redeem himself.

But do we have to give up our culture, our progress, just because he is our leader? Do we have to give up everything we’ve fought for just because a slight majority has voted against us? “NOT MY PRESIDENT! NOT MY PRESIDENT!” I am afraid of what our newly elected president might do. I am angry at what he has already done. And I cannot sit by and watch my home go to pieces.

So now I walk the fine line between my own conflicting ideals: between democracy and human rights, between freedom and equality. Donald Trump is our president, but that does not diminish our right to protest his erroneous decisions. Now is the time to truly discern the attitudes that have so long been obscured by the sheen of the Berkeley bubble, and use that understanding to reach a consensus on what is right and good. Only once we have come to agreement can we truly move forward as a united, progressive America.

Photos and Illustrations by

Maria Fong, Simone Lewis, Jacob Sarasohn, Anthony Bertolli, Mira Gordon, Chaltu Rashid,