November 17, 2016

Raw and Sincere – Gunjan Hooja

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As the Vice President of the Cornell University Democrats, I gave these remarks to our general body members the day after the election. A meeting that was supposed to be for all intents and purposes, one of celebration, was instead one in which we had to reel from an outcome that almost none of us had prepared for. The message encapsulated here is one I want to convey to the whole Cornell community.

So we stand here at a different meeting than we thought.

We stand here mourning the loss of what could have been and in fear of what will be.

I understand completely the devastation that many of you feel at this moment.

To be completely honest I am disillusioned by what happened last night – I don’t know what to believe.

I was so confident in this country and its ability to reject someone that I thought had no place being near the awesome responsibility of the presidency of the United States.

As an immigrant I am scared, and as someone who checks off more boxes than one when it comes to being a minority I am even more scared.

Yet also I am devastated because this country that I love so much seemed to reject me yesterday and not love me back.

This has been a hard election cycle, one that has occurred in my most formative years and has changed my world views – and one in which I knew before yesterday I would have to assess how it changed me. That process of reflection just got infinitely harder.

And so has the fight that we will have to undertake in the next coming years.

The voices of those that felt that they had been left behind were heard last night – albeit with a very slim margin.

The responsibility of the dems and progressives for the next four years will be to make sure our voices do not get drowned out and that we fight even harder for the ideals that we believe in.

The supporters of trump as hard as it is to say are not all racist, sexist, and xenophobic and we cannot demonize all of them.

We have to be the party that still advocates coming together and understanding the grievances of all – for in the vote for trump there was a desperation that we had underestimated.

Over the next days, weeks, months, and years will have to regroup but at the same time nurture the flame of the young people that overwhelmingly rejected a person like Trump.

Remember we are the future, we have lifetimes to make a difference. This election I hope after licking our wounds will not dissuade us from trying to make a change but will rather propel us to fight even harder.

Still I rise – Maya Angelou
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.