Hood River to Claremont, Reflecting on “Allyship” Post Election

I grew up in Hood River, a town 60 miles east of Portland, Oregon. It sits at the base of Mt. Hood, right on the Columbia River, and is home to outdoor enthusiasts and many migrant families, predominantly from Mexico, who work in the orchards of the Hood River Valley. Soccer has always thrived in Hood River’s community because the sport is such a big part of Latin@ culture. Our high school team have been state champions for the past two years and were hopeful that this year would bring another championship title earlier this month.

On Nov. 5, the Saturday before the presidential election, I watched the live stream of their quarterfinal game online. Tensions were on the rise as the presidential election drew to a close. Our opponents were from a private Catholic prep school in Portland, where the majority of their players were white and had been recruited for their athleticism. The game was scoreless for the entire 80 minutes that the Oregon school regulations allow and eventually remained scoreless for the two, 10 minute overtime sessions. Moving on to penalty kicks, each team had five chances to win the game. As the opposing team’s last shooter kicked the ball into the net, our goalie blocked it, but accidentally hit it into the net. The other team had won and the boys crumpled to the ground, crying.

Everyone was in shock. But what shocked me even more than the loss was what my mom told me had been said about our team during the game. One of the parents from the other team stated that “those boys should be out picking fruit.” A parent from our team overhead him and made his anger known: He told this man that what he said was inappropriate, that he couldn’t get away with saying that. The man eventually backed down, apologizing for his comment.

I couldn’t believe someone would use this racist phrase, which embodies hard work and tenacity, to undermine and insult an entire group of people. It is hard for me to discern what motivated this man’s comment, though I am inclined to think that it could have been the result of heightened racial tensions as a result of Trump’s campaign.

It is disheartening to think that Trump’s profiling against minority groups has inspired other Americans to make offensive comments. Recently, there was an act of vandalism on Scripps College's campus shortly after election night, where a window was broken and someone wrote #MAGA.

Many people at the Claremont colleges were appalled at this act of vandalism on campus: It was a clear reflection of the hate Trump and his supporters have espoused since the beginning of his campaign.

While many members of the Claremont community were shaken by the blatant message of bigotry and hatred, I believe this community has taken great steps towards making these campuses more safe, inclusive, and welcoming for students of all backgrounds. For example, I have recently joined the 5C Refugee Advocacy Network, where 5C students are able to work with refugees in the Claremont area, providing ESL tutoring and fundraising for specific needs of the individuals. I am taking time to reflect and research ways that I can be a better ally and make sure that I am supporting those around me, as well as myself. The network has helped me realize that to move forward, we must first recognize our  disappointment, anger, and fear, knowing that all these feelings are valid. After doing so, we can begin to move forward, whatever that might look like for each individual.

Although I know that there were people in the Claremont community who were happy with the election results, many students, faculty and staff members felt defeated, depressed, and unable to accept what had happened. For many Americans, the results of the election make the future look gray and dismal–a feeling that is warranted and generally accurate, depending on the person’s views. But these results epitomize that, now more than ever, we must continue to fight on behalf of our rights as humans and as citizens of this country. We must fight for our friends and family who have felt neglected and feel that they cannot fight for themselves, and continue having the hard conversations with people we are likely to disagree with. By doing this, we can begin to understand the reasons people had for voting for Trump and see them as more than people who supported a racist, misogynistic, homophobic candidate. We must engage in actions that make us uncomfortable like the parent who took action at the soccer game. We must stand up for people who are victims of racism, homophobic ideas, and misogynistic tendencies and discuss what makes a good ally, so that we might grow and understand that these actions are bringing us closer to our fellow citizens and to a greater America.

Caitlyn Fick SC '19 loves chemistry puns and writing about people and their experiences. She is so excited to be a guest writer for TSL and can be found in lab or with her wonderful friends when she's not writing or studying.

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