The Island after the Election

Weeks after the night of November 8th, the responses to this election have been in some cases loud and honest, in some cases brilliant and thoughtful, and in others silent and passive. The days immediately following the election witnessed protests throughout both the country and on social media. Celebrities posted teary videos, and screams filled college campuses. Our nation responded to what had become, in all reality, a world turned upside down. Here at Loomis, on the island, the responses were equally diverse. Many felt vindicated, others defeated. Many expressed themselves passionately, others passively. any teachers have devoted entire class periods to the subject, others have banished political speech from the classroom. Regardless of party or candidate affiliation, the constant controversy of both the campaign season and of the results of the election shoved even the most private or non-political community members into the rippling waters of political discussion. As a community we held multiple forums to aid students and faculty who have struggled with the emotions that arose after election-day. We have supported one another and have offered one another a safe place to express any and all emotions. Like millions of people across the United States, many at Loomis have experienced feelings of heartbreak on account of this election. Conversely, many have expressed joy, relief, or redemption. Heard both in our community and in our nation, this election has inspired a sense of hopelessness and bitterness in all of us at Loomis, in supporters of all candidates. This hopelessness that I refer to takes two forms. First, we at Loomis often feel as though our voices do not matter. We inhabit a campus that is, in many ways, removed from reality and therefore believe that our voices have no effect in the real world. Secondly, we also fall into a mentality in which we feel political discussion only serves to incite conflict and further entrench us into our own positions. Expression and discussion are the most powerful tools at our disposal. I think that the most dangerous and foolish thing we can do as a nation in this moment is to fall into a comfortable bitterness where we separate ourselves from the most important discussion of this time. As dedicated members of our school, as dedicated members of this nation, we must remain hopeful.

Loomis provides us with a safe place to engage in both expression and discussion. We must now use it. When students rise up and express themselves with strong words and strong actions, we should all applaud, regardless of how we feel or whom we support. When voices, especially young voices, emerge and make themselves heard, it is something beautiful. As a welcoming and inclusive institution, we must talk and engage with one another. We have to talk about the reasons why we feel like we do. Many of us feel that this election has simply fractured our nation and made unity a thing of the past. Politics often do divide our community. When the two main candidates in a presidential election are controversial as these two are, division becomes inevitable. Now is the time to begin to add more depth to our discussion. We need to separate ourselves from candidate, from party and truthfully discuss the issues our nation faces. If we can move away from the mindset of political supporter towards the mindset of being our own original minds, we can talk to one another without such animosity and disdain.

This election has hurt many of us and will continue to be painful for a long time. At the Javits Center in New York on the night of November 8th, confetti cannons were positioned throughout the auditorium. Of a green, opaque shade, the confetti would resemble the shards of the glass ceiling she intended to shatter. By about 3 a.m., the content of the cannons were then emptied and sealed into boxes to be opened another day. At the site that would have been the venue for her victory speech, her supporters filed out like despondent fans who just endured a brutal loss at their home stadium. As another victory speech was concurrently being given two miles away at a hotel in Midtown, the Javits stage was slowly disassembled. Pictures of young women leaving the Javits center in tears represent the most potent heartbreak of the night. Among feelings of panic, anger, and shock, what perhaps hurt the most, what perhaps delivered the most desolating impact was the fact that the glass ceiling only got higher.

Despite heartbreak, we must begin to move past the emotions as we speak about politics at Loomis. Nothing inhibits our progress more than when people suggest that discussion and expression are pointless. It is now time to get beneath the surface, to go beneath candidate versus candidate. We as a community and as a nation are so much stronger and smarter.