In Multipolarity

News compilation on New Cold, Nov 21, 2016

At Iowa high school, election results kindle tensions and protests

By Julie Bosmannaov, New York Times, Nov 20, 2016

High school students across U.S. speak out against Donald Trump

High school students across U.S. speak out against Donald Trump

IOWA CITY – The air felt leaden in the hallways at West High School on the morning after Election Day. The usual clatter from the building’s 2,000 students was muffled. At lunchtime, Lujayn Hamad was in the cafeteria when she said a boy she barely knew roughly bumped into her and swore at her.

“Go back home,” he told Ms. Hamad, who is 15, and an American citizen, and wears a hijab.

The comment, overheard by a friend at Ms. Hamad’s side — though denied by the male student — set off a turbulent week of tears, fury and demonstrations at West High, a large public school in this university town, which prides itself on its openness and progressivism. Minorities make up nearly 40 percent of the student body at West High, a far more diverse mix than the typical Iowan school.

In the hours and days after Ms. Hamad’s encounter in the cafeteria, similar incidents followed, students said. One girl said she was surrounded by heckling students and called a terrorist. Another said she saw people chanting “Trump” in the hallways when they passed black students. In one classroom, a student noted the absence of a Latino classmate and announced to the others, “I wonder if she got deported.”

Students walk out of Berkeley High School in California on Nov 9, 2016 to protest election of Donald Trump

Students walk out of Berkeley High School in California on Nov 9, 2016 to protest election of Donald Trump

Like many other schools around the country since the election, West High has become a microcosm of the United States itself, a place roiled by tension, divisions and mistrust. Students in many schools say supporters of Donald J. Trump have felt empowered to lash out at minorities, while outraged backers of Hillary Clinton have been spurred to organize and demonstrate. And teachers have been struggling to provide guidance even as they themselves are processing the election results.

In Ladue, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, students walked out of a high school twice in a week to protest racist comments made at school after the election of Mr. Trump. Two students were disciplined for telling black students boarding a bus that they should sit in the back. Continue reading the main story Related Coverage

Swastikas were drawn in a boys’ bathroom at a middle school in Bethesda, Md., which has many Jewish students. Children all over the country, particularly Latinos and Muslims, have fearfully asked teachers and guidance counselors whether they and their families will be deported.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which has been tracking thousands of such episodes since the election, said the most commonly reported locations for harassment were K-12 schools.

“It’s impossible to wall schools off from the rest of society,” said Maureen Costello, the director of Teaching Tolerance, a program of the law center. “It’s just seeped into the culture. Kids are hearing it at home and they’re amplifying it.”

At West High, some teachers and parents have encouraged students to walk out of class to protest racism and sexism and to support a pluralistic society. Others were livid at the protests, saying the teenagers were overreacting. Some emailed administrators to ask why some students were allowed to skip class for protests during a crucial finals week.

A few teachers have responded by hugging crying students and reassuring them that they are loved. One assured an emotional student that orchestra class “is a safe space where we can all get together and make music,” the student said. But an English teacher announced, to the dismay of some teenagers in her class, that the election was over and “we’re not going to talk about it.”

Everybody seems to agree that the school is a changed place.

“It’s a different environment now,” said Jade Merriwether, 16. “I feel very upset and afraid for my friends. People are using the election as an excuse to discriminate against each other openly.”

Even Trump supporters say they feel under siege. Two girls walked into the principal’s office after the election and told him that as conservatives, they did not feel safe walking through the halls, were receiving dirty looks and felt they were not “on an equal basis” to other students, the principal, Gregg Shoultz, said.

Mason Hanson, 16, a member of the Young Republicans club, said he had publicly supported Mr. Trump during the campaign but was upset by the slurs directed at students in the aftermath.

Now other students are angrily blaming him for Mr. Trump’s victory; he no longer wears his “Hillary for Prison” T-shirt because he does not want to be lumped in with the people accused of making insulting comments to minorities.

“After hearing about that stuff, I was honestly surprised,” he said. “I hadn’t heard it before. Usually we’re all polite to each other.”

The trouble began at West High on Wednesday morning after Election Day, when teachers received an email from the principal warning them: Be objective about the election results and remind students of the school’s inclusiveness.

“Please be positive and strong and teach the heck out of our kids today,” Mr. Shoultz wrote in the email.

Mr. Trump’s victory “changed the earth that we stood on a little bit,” Mr. Shoultz said in an interview. “I had a pit in my stomach that day.”

Travis Henderson, a social studies teacher, arrived at school prepared to talk to his students about democracy and the importance of fidelity to its long and sometimes difficult process. “I knew it was going to be hard, I knew it was going to take a lot of me,” he said. “I expected tears, I expected fear and I expected confusion.”

In her second-period class, Carmen Gwenigale, a Spanish teacher, was faced with three students who were sobbing, distraught over the election results. She was sympathetic, but tried to stay focused on the mission of her class. “I told them, ‘Do it in Spanish, ’ ” she said.

After Ms. Hamad’s encounter in the lunchroom, the first teacher she approached was Ms. Gwenigale. “Lujayn came to my room, crying and sobbing, questioning if she should take off her hijab,” said Ms. Gwenigale, who encouraged her to tell the principal.

Ms. Hamad said she was not ready. “I was like, I just want to go home and talk about it,” she said. “Talk about it with my family and my God.”

After Ms. Hamad left her classroom, Ms. Gwenigale sought out Mr. Henderson. “I ran straight to his room,” she said. They sat on the stairs in a hallway and spoke in hushed tones. “I said, ‘What are we going to do? How can we work through this?’”

The story spread around the school and reached school administrators, who questioned the male student. He denied saying anything derogatory. Mr. Shoultz, the principal, said video showed an encounter between the two students in the cafeteria, but did not pick up what was said.

By Thursday, he had made a schoolwide announcement, trying to calm tensions by telling students that discriminatory behavior would not be tolerated. A group of students decided to hold a rally the next day. They marched out of school on Friday, holding signs that read “Love Trumps Hate,” “Say No to Deportation” and “No Hate in Our State.”

On Monday, some students gathered in the cafeteria, handing out safety pins to wear on shirts in a gesture of togetherness.

“It’s showing solidarity and unity,” said Wala Siddig, a junior. “It’s showing that we’re not going to tolerate all this bigotry that’s happening.”

On Tuesday, a few dozen students closed out the day with another protest. They walked out of their classes at 3:30 p.m. and gathered inside the school’s main entrance, where they sat cross-legged with duct tape over their mouths.

When the school day concluded at 4 p.m., the hallways filled with students who stopped short and stared, open-mouthed, at the group.

Mr. Henderson, the social studies teacher, stood on the sidelines and watched the reaction. The next day, Wednesday, marked one week and one day since the election. It was a scheduled day off, a quick breath between trimesters.

“It’s good timing,” he said. “I think they need it.”

Teens who couldn’t vote struggle to accept election of Donald Trump

By Katy Steinmetz, TIME Magazine, Nov 17, 2016

A group of students in the Bay Area share their hopes and fears

BERKELEY – By 9 p.m. on Election Night, Maya Raiford-Cohen had started sending texts to her fellow students at Berkeley High School, organizing young people in a county that voted for the losing presidential candidate by a margin of about six to one. Texts fast turned into group chats, Snapchats and Facebook posts—and by the next morning, hundreds of students were walking out of class to collectively voice their concerns about what a Donald Trump presidency is going to mean for them.

During the past week of protests over the 2016 election results, thousands of high school students have staged walkouts in cities across the nation. While many Americans are anxious about what the election means, these 16- and 17-year-olds are also grappling with the fact that this decision was made for them by their elders—just like young people in Britain had to stand by as their country voted to leave the European Union months before. “We couldn’t cast a vote but we spoke with our feet,” Berkeley senior Kaili Meier says of the walkout at her school, which has long been a hotbed of progressive activism.

For some of her peers, it is particularly frustrating that many other Americans could cast ballots but did not: about 42% of eligible voters stayed home this year, similar to the amount in 2012. “This country has the tendency to remain a bystander,” says Berkeley senior Camila Rice-Aguilar, also 17, “and that was really infuriating to me because I don’t get to vote. None of us got to vote. And we have more thoughts and collective passion than many people in this country who decided they weren’t going to do anything.”

For both Meier and Rice-Aguilar, who have immigrants in their families, much of that passion has been focused on xenophobic sentiments voiced by the winning side. But the results are rankling America’s most diverse generation in diverse ways, even in the liberal bastion that is Berkeley. “This no longer is conservative versus liberal,” says Raiford-Cohen, a 17-year-old who has one white and one black parent. “This is people who are hurting versus those who are not affected.”

Many of the students who walked out feel isolated and fearful, recounting harassing statements that were yelled at them from cars or uttered to their faces on the street since Trump’s election. After they left the building, the Berkeley students gathered on the school steps and handed an open mike from one person to the next—some people of color, some white women, some openly LGBTQ students, some undocumented immigrants who revealed that status to the entire crowd. Many cried in the arms of people they hardly knew at the big school. Many chanted “Not our president!”

The students say the rally was meant to be about healing and that unlike walkouts staged at the school the past two years, which were more focused on black lives, this one connected students from nearly every ethnic group. There were also isolated stirs in which white male Trump supporters protested their protest—and in turn were harassed. “This can be a time of both unity and protest, resistance and discussion,” says Raiford-Cohen. “If we keep bullying the Trump supporters, we’re not going to move anywhere.” She says that she tried to keep the slogans on signs positive —“Love Trumps Hate” and such—but there were signs telling the president-elect to f— off too.


A week after the walkout, the organizers remained raw, as they sat in a conference room at Berkeley High to talk about what the election says to them about their country—and whether this is a moment for historic levels of empathy or fighting words.

“I had to explain to my mom what was going on,” one Berkeley student tells TIME, explaining that she and her parents are undocumented immigrants from Mexico. She asked to remain anonymous for fear of jeopardizing her family’s status in the country. “My parents didn’t risk everything they had to come here and have a leader that is like that,” she says, alluding to Trump’s promises to build a wall that will keep people like her family out and deport immigrants who are already here.

Yet the young woman who grew up in California is trying to keep an open mind about the motivations of 60 million Americans who voted Republican in 2016—including about 16% of the people in her own county. “I’m really trying to understand that there are people who are in poverty and they don’t have the opportunity to live in areas where there is diversity or have never met anyone who is undocumented,” she says. “As part of healing, at least for myself, I’m trying to understand.”

Two seats down from her is Emara Shabir, a Muslim American student who was born here and wears a hijab. Shabir says the election feels like a referendum on whether she is welcome in her own country. During a recent trip to a yogurt shop in Berkeley, she held the door for an older man, and as he walked by he told her she should be sorry for what “her people” did on 9/11. When she asked what he said, sure she had misheard, she says he asked if she had “s—” in her ears.

“I’m so scared someone is going to come behind me and rip my hijab off, or beat me up,” Shabir says. “I’m scared for my life … Because I’m a Muslim, people view me as less of an American than them. They think I don’t grieve like them, like I don’t feel the pain like they feel. This is my country too.”

Two seats down from her is Raiford-Cohen, who says that there is a sense of disillusionment among the young people who came of age with the first black president in the Oval Office. “The idea that there’s been progress” feels like a lie, she says, as does the notion that America has been on an inexorable path to a place with less racism and less sexism. “For me, as a black girl, that was powerful,” she says of Obama’s election. “And I guess I really let it fool me.”

At the end of the table is Anjali Emsellem, a 17-year-old senior who was celebrating her birthday on election day. “This election has felt super personal,” she says, recalling what now seems like a distant expectation that she’d see the first woman elected as president that day. “It just feels like I got in a fight with my best friend.” To her, the election process did indeed feel unfair, but not in the ways that Trump often claimed that it was. “That we couldn’t have a voice in this is just so frustrating,” she says. “I feel like the election was rigged. It was rigged by every single –ism in this country. It was rigged by our history. It was rigged by the party system.” To let off steam, Emsellem recently walked up to Inspiration Point, a lookout in the Berkeley Hills, with several other young women. For several minutes, they just screamed.


Tearful, Rice-Aguilar says she felt like she had failed her mother, an immigrant from Nicaragua who became a citizen last year. “I spent so much time trying to convince her that her vote means something,” the senior says. Mother and daughter went to the polling place together, even though only one of them could have a say. “I have to look her in the eyes and apologize to her, because the first year that she votes, a complete and utter disgrace is elected, someone who doesn’t acknowledge her as a human being,” she says.

Yet despite those harsh words about the president-elect, she and others agreed that nothing will get better unless a divided America gets better at listening to itself—and hope that if people take the time to really talk across their divisions, discord will lessen. Getting ready to embark on their own for the first time, they are grappling with the same question many older Americans are: are we one nation, or are we two?

“So much of our hate is borne out of our misunderstanding and our inability to really listen to each other,” she says. “It’s hard for me to imagine staring into the face of a Trump supporter and telling them how I feel and them not feeling anything. And maybe that’s naïve and optimistic, but it’s all we have.”

Lillian Weiner-Mock, a student who identifies as bisexual and helps head the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, believes that debate can be healthy if people let it. The notion that “disagreeing with each other causes too much division, that’s a low-key fascist statement,” she says. “It’s okay to support Donald Trump, it’s okay to express your opinion. Just don’t make a joke out of other people’s pain.”

For all that these results are not the ones that these young liberals wanted, they have clearly been galvanized by the loss. “If Hillary had won, we’d all be celebrating and continuing our lives,” says Emsellem. “I feel like we’re awake now. We see what’s on the table. And I don’t know if we would have acknowledged that. I probably wouldn’t have. There’s a beauty in our vulnerability right now.”

Her peers spoke of how excited they were to go fight for their ideals on college campuses next year, taking the social-justice spirit of Berkeley all around the country. And they wondered how things might change when their more diverse, more inclusive generation is not only of voting age but running the place. “That night, seeing my mom cry for the first time in I don’t know how long, that just hit me hard,” says Oscar Paz, a Latino American student. “But being the new face of the country in a couple years, that just gives me hope.”

As Emsellem says, “This is in our hands now.”

U.S. students march out of schools to unite against Trump

The Associated Press, Nov 14, 2016

‘Even though we’re only 16- and 17-year-olds and we can’t vote, our voice matters’

Protesters were not slowing down six days after Donald Trump’s election, many of them high school students leaving class by the hundreds Monday to carry signs and flags on the streets of several U.S. cities.

They walked out in California, in Maryland and in Oregon, many declaring that their young voices matter and expressing concern over the president-elect’s comments about minorities and the effect he will have on their communities. Some students said they had the approval of administrators.

Some of Trump’s supporters have called for the demonstrations to stop, including former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who dismissed the protesters as “spoiled crybabies.”

Trump has accused some of being “professional protesters,” although he added in a 60 Minutes interview Sunday that he also believes some are afraid for the country’s future “because they don’t know me.”

Los Angeles

Hundreds of students from several schools on Los Angeles’ heavily Hispanic east side marched out shortly after classes began in a protest they say was organized over the weekend.

The demonstrations began at Garfield High School, the subject of the 1988 film Stand and Deliver focusing on teacher Jamie Escalante’s successful college-level math programs. Students carrying signs and shouting slogans marched toward the city’s nearby Mariachi Plaza.

They were soon joined by hundreds of students from several schools, many of them shouting, “Say it loud. Say it clear. Immigration, welcome here.” Some carried signs reading, “Deport Trump.”

Among the protesters was 16-year-old Brian Rodriguez, who said he is U.S.-born to parents from Mexico and Guatemala and was offended by Trump’s criticism of Latinos. “It hurt me inside knowing somebody from outside our race is talking bad about us,” said Rodriguez, who carried a sign that read “Brown and Proud.”

Rodriguez said his school’s principal opened the gates and told students they could participate.

Nancy Meza, a community organizer who announced the walkout, said she helped students organize it after they reached out to her. “It was really out of frustration of students wanting to voice their opinions,” Meza said. “And wanting to feel protected.”

Oakland, Calif.

Hundreds of students from about a dozen high schools in Oakland skipped classes Monday morning to demonstrate against Trump’s election. Students called on California to maintain its “sanctuary cities” status for people in the country illegally, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

John Sasaki, a spokesman for Oakland Unified School District, said administrators want students back in class as soon as possible, but they are not telling them to stop their protests. “We support our students’ First Amendment rights,” he said.


About 200 middle- and high-school students left two Denver charter schools to march to the state capitol, where they chanted and held up signs saying “Millennial voice matters” and “Make peace not war.”

Police and school officials escorted the students, who attend Denver’s Strive Prep Excel High School and Byers Middle School, along city streets to the capitol building to ensure their safety.

They called out “Si, se puede” — Spanish for “Yes, we can” — and “The people united will never be divided” as they waved their signs.

Noelie Quintero, 17, who attends Strive Prep, said they were representing Latinos, Muslims, women and others marginalized by Trump. “We’re not going anywhere — we’re going to continue to stand strong,” she said. “Even though we’re only 16- and 17-year-olds and we can’t vote, our voice matters. What we believe matters, and we’re not going to stop.”

Portland, Oregon

In a city that has seen some of the largest and most destructive protests, a few hundred high school students from at least four campuses walked out of class to gather in the rain in front of city hall.

College students from Reed College joined the group, who held signs saying “Students for change” and “Love trumps hate.” The protesters marched across the Hawthorne Bridge, some of them climbing up it, while officers stopped traffic.

It comes after protesters smashed windows at Portland businesses and caused other vandalism recently. Daily demonstrations since Thursday have led to $1 million in damage and more than 100 arrests.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales says violent protests aren’t a productive way to create change and believes they are being used in his city as cover for “outrageous, bad, criminal behaviour.”

A protest organizer says activists are reaching out to their counterparts in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., and other major cities in an effort to keep Trump from prevailing on many of his issues.

“Trump is going to be president, so we need to prepare for that,” Greg McKelvey of the group Portland’s Resistance said Monday.

McKelvey said they want to ensure local governments fight racial disparities in policing and help address global warming.

Silver Spring, Maryland

Hundreds of high school students left campus and took to the streets to declare their opposition to Trump, while hundreds more gathered for a rally at a school football stadium.

About 800 Montgomery Blair High School students attended the rally at the stadium, and most returned to class afterward, Montgomery County Public Schools spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala said. The ones who left the school joined students from nearby Northwood High School, making up a gathering that Onijala estimated at 200 to 300, some of them chanting: “Not my president.”

Police Capt. Paul Starks says the protesters were peaceful except for one bottle-throwing incident. No one was hurt.


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