Strength in Numbers

Photo by Kris HooksPhoto by Kris Hooks

Welcome to 2017 City College students, the first of what I anticipate to be the longest four years of our lives.

Remember when you were in high school and you couldn’t wait to graduate? Well I don’t know about you, but I feel like a freshman all over again. I went to a small charter school in Napa for middle school. It was the kind of school where everyone knew everyone. We were a tight-knit family, all 90 of us, including the staff.

The administration felt like our parents, strict when they needed to be, but also compassionate and far more often, understanding. The students were my brothers and sisters. Did we always get along? Not a chance. But more often than not, we were close. All we could think about, as any teenagers do, was getting to high school. With the “cool kids” and all that jazz.

My first day at Napa High was eye-opening, to say the least. There were more than 3,000 students on campus. I honestly have no clue how many staff there were, but I’m guessing around 150. I jumped out of a small pond of 90 students to an ocean of 3,100. It was hard to wrap my brain around.

I went from trusting my adult leaders to barely knowing anyone and they, in turn, not having a clue to who I was. It was difficult to adjust.

Until Jan. 20 of this year, I hadn’t felt that way since Aug. 29, 2001, the first day of high school. That’s 15 years, four months and 22 days for those of you counting. Lost, confused, not knowing where to look or whom to talk to. All these feelings came rushing back on the day Trump took office.

(Little side note, I WILL NOT be calling him the president. The Express and I will respect the office and the US government, but that is where our boundaries ends.)

But since Inauguration Day, I have seen good people rise up despite the evil around us.

On Jan. 21, we saw nearly 5 million men, women and children worldwide stand up PEACEFULLY and let their voices be heard. That’s more than your entire state, Mr. Sessions. I hope you took notice.

On Jan. 27, Trump signed an executive order banning immigrants from seven majority Muslim nations. That day may have come close to the darkness of 2001, a year in most Americans memories, our generation’s Pearl Harbor. A year that will never leave our memories, for better or for worse.

But the reaction from Americans was beautiful. Thousands of protesters flooded airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, Dallas, New York’s JFK, Raleigh, Houston, Seattle, Portland, Atlanta and more.

One of my favorite comedians who was flying from Sacramento to JFK on that weekend, Hasan Minhaj, had an interesting observation as he flew from Sacramento to JFK that weekend.

“How can I hate Trump right now?” asked Minhaj, who is a Muslim from Davis. “Just look at what he’s done at the airport. White women were turning their scarves into hijabs. Muslims were publicly praying and people were cheering them on! Do you understand? Muslims were publicly praying at the airport! Think about how crazy this is.”

It blows my mind too that Trump’s actions have created these movements. More times than not since the election, I’ve been ashamed to be an American. Now I could not be more proud.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend” is an old Indian proverb from 4th century B.C. in India. While it is rather ignorant in a world diplomacy sense, it is incredibly useful in sports. Herb Brooks used this same idea in the Winter Olympics in 1980. As the head coach of the U.S. Olympic Hockey team, he had a team full of young college hockey players from all over the nation who had nothing in common. This was before U.S. professionals could participate in the Olympics, they were from different states and colleges and although they played hockey, they were bitter rivals.

Brooks rode them hard. He antagonized them. He pushed them to a point where they hated him. But that was the point. He formed a bond among them. He gave them a common ground. He created a team. They wanted to fight him together as a unit. And for those of you who aren’t sports fans, that team orchestrated the greatest upset in sports history–against Russia.

While I by no means support the decisions that Trump has made in office, he unified us in opposition. We have started to support one another, regardless of race, religion and gender. It’s only been 18 days since Inauguration Day, and I hope there is more in our future to unify us.