Community gathers in solidarity following election results

By Hannah Depin

Sam Anderson/Collegian
Sam Anderson/Collegian

Demonstrators gathered near the Metawampe Lawn outside Blue Wall on Wednesday night for an impromptu rally for solidarity in response to Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election.

Speakers emphasized that the loosely structured event was meant to bring together a community of people left shocked, scared or angered in the wake of the election results, with an emphasis on featuring the voices of people of color. The mood was somber as demonstrators began to arrive, hugging each another and asking, “How are you doing?”

A crowd of approximately 30 people gathered at 7 p.m. when a series of speakers took to the Campus Center steps to address the crowd with a megaphone. Attendance roughly doubled as the event continued and as speakers shared their shock toward the election results.

“I’m not used to having nothing to say,” said University of Massachusetts graduate student Ro Sigle. “We are in the thick of a collective trauma… White supremacy is yelling at the top of its lungs now.”

Sigle stressed that those hurt by the election results should try to take time to care for themselves and heal.

“The biggest ‘f*** you’ we can give white supremacy is to reach out to one another and say ‘I’ve got you,’” they added.

Others said that Trump’s ideology is not new but there is a more visible display of the oppression minorities have endured for centuries. UMass graduate student Andrew Torres condemned the “vicious cycle of hate and anger” in a poem he performed before the crowd. In the poem, he said oppression has culminated into a “utopia of catatonia” where “domination is the end game.”

Many expressed a sense of exhaustion with these same cycles of oppression.

“My ass is tired of surviving and f****** seeing my brothers and sisters fall,” said Mount Holyoke College sophomore Imara White in her address to the crowd. “Just because we get one Obama, it doesn’t mean the system is working for us. It never was.”

Others delivered more hopeful calls to action, like an audience member who implored, “Ask yourselves what concrete actions you’re going to be able to take once these feelings subside.”

As the event ended, demonstrators could write down their email addresses to stay connected with other activists.

“People are going to be emboldened to harass, emboldened to bully,” said UMass grad student Devika Dutt, who attended the event. “But there’s a lot we can do at the community level.”

Ray Sharick, interim graduate program director and lecturer in the College of Education, attended the event in order to maintain that sense of community.

“For me, it’s making sure I stay together,” Sharick said. “Together with people who want to take action.”

“There’s strength in numbers,” said Carol Sharick, director of career and professional development in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Hannah Depin can be reached at [email protected]