Comm(unity) against hate

The West Side Story editorial board reacts to the results of the election.


Leah Dusterhoft

The West Side Story editorial board reacts to the results of the election.

WSS Staff

America showed its true nature on Nov. 9. Even in our own community, our conception of a safe environment has been shattered. We would all like to believe that racism, xenophobia and hate are things of the past, but America’s actions that day ended that delusion. It became clear that those ideas were simply repressed until certain members of our society used President-elect Donald Trump as an excuse to act on those feelings.

Our staff has zero tolerance for actions rooted in hate, and as a news publication, we prize our First Amendment rights. We have every intention to use them to give you, the reader, a voice. We are taking it upon ourselves to stand up for your rights, but you have to take action as well. We need you to make the story we tell.

Protests have already taken place, starting with the walk-out at West High and City High Friday afternoon, followed by a group of high school and college students blocking off I-80. Another protest was planned for Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 5 p.m., this time a march to the Pentacrest beginning at the Robert E. Lee Recreation Center. As important as it is to fight to be heard, it is equally important to remember what we should be and what we are fighting for. KCRG published an article headlined “Iowa City students walk out to protest Trump,” but this description doesn’t tell the whole story. The students who participated in the walk-out did so to protest hate. If you are looking to protest Donald Trump’s election, look elsewhere. The election is said and done. Whether you like it or not, that is how a democracy works. We are here to show our community that we are looking to change the future, not lament the past.

Whether or not you choose to attend these protests, our bigger goal should be unifying the community. Our country is fractured because our hate is stronger than our love. The only way to end the divisions in our society is by unifying the pieces of our nation with a common denominator of love. We were, after all, originally brought together under the ideas of patriotism and fraternity during the Revolutionary War, something that has and will continue to endure. It can be as simple as wearing a safety pin to show your solidarity with the victims of hate crimes. Wearing safety pins do not require you speak; they do not ask you to fight. Instead, they symbolize all we are trying to achieve. They represent connectivity by piecing together objects that were once separate, and they also represent the security that we need by holding in place what is falling apart. On top of that, they remind us to be humble; in a world filled with multi-million dollar ad campaigns, we can still make a statement with a simple metal loop.

All we ask is that you exercise your First Amendment rights with positivity and hope. That means speaking out against hate in the name of love. That means protesting peacefully. Or, it can even mean not doing any of those things. That is your right as well. Whatever you choose, please consider telling us your stories so we can exercise our freedom of the press. If you post on social media about your experiences or opinions on fighting against hate, tag the West Side Story in your social media posts. If you experience it directly, tell us your story.

Individually, it is difficult for us to change anything. The teenage demographic is often overlooked in a world filled with adults. However, we can change that. If we speak with a unified voice against hate, they will hear us. If we can love stronger and more passionately than the hate around us, they will understand us. And if we use free speech and choose to love, we can change our fate.