Welcome to our new section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus.) We welcome faculty, clinicians and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.
Ever since November 2016, people of color have been afraid. Afraid for their status in a country they call home, afraid for those close to them, and afraid for their lives. Such a large part of the United States now feels powerless due to the effect that few have on the state of the population’s lives.
Under such an influence, rights to privacy, equality, and basic human privileges have been threatened or even taken away. It is essential to remember that banding together is what makes the population powerful. Those who do not directly identify with the populace being threatened may not truly understand the fear incited in the hearts of those who are subjected to listening to a constant stream of oppressive comments by authority figures every time they turn on a television, but these utterances devastate more than just the endangered. They hurt the bystanders, they hurt those outside of the United States that no longer have a place to seek refuge, and they hurt those who must carry on a future that no longer seems to be sunlit and hopeful.
Yet, society must trudge through the pain, and it is essential to remember that hope can be found in those that believe in the opportunity to better the current State of the Union. We who must carry on the seemingly dark future must find the will to fight within ourselves and with each other.
Those in power are claiming they possess the capability to defy the values that our country was founded on to further their own bigotry, and this is not the first time in history that we have been subject to such a predicament. Amongst the students in the country, we research vast amounts of history, literature, politics, and any other subject one could think of, and we relate the ideas of the past to our lives in the present. We learn how to shape a future of our own creation. Students may feel powerless in the moment, but it is students that brought the first African-American family to the White House. We cannot let our efforts fall into the hands of those that believe the future is solely theirs to determine.
Recently, Trump claims that he can override the U.S. Constitution and eliminate birthright citizenship. In all practicality, this is a feat that he is not likely to achieve. However, the sentiment this statement spreads as well as the inherent disrespect to those who have contributed to this country their whole lives, identifying as Americans is unacceptable.
As a person of color who has grown up looking towards bringing out the best values of the United States of America and identifying as an American citizen, the sentiments towards taking birthright citizenship away is a breach of my identity. I am consistently subject to misunderstandings, microaggressive comments, and oppressive threats from the current administration. In such an environment I must consistently remind myself that I am not powerless, and the ability to make my voice heard lies in finding those who understand the impact of similar struggles and moving to increase interactions with those who may not necessarily identify with the same struggles as I to help spread awareness as to how the propaganda spread by the administration damages more than just the context I live in.
The threat is not empty, despite how lengthy and difficult the process to follow through with it may be. What may be even more substantive is that the administration threatens to misuse the power they have over the identities of those they govern because they believe disregarding the right of equality is an action they can afford to take. In face of this, we may feel threatened and powerless but that is contradictory to our potential as students. We are the shaping of the future. Let us take ownership of that fact. Since November 2016, so many of us have been afraid, but we can take action. Speak out. Write. Protest. Vote. Do not let our power be crushed in oppressive hands.
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