Hope is a decision

Leslie Mancillas, Contributing Writer

When Donald Trump was elected this week, many of us went into a state of shock and started to feel heavy-hearted.  In connection with the college’s fall 2016 Work of Literary Merit book selection, “Between the World and Me,” my students are now in the middle of writing letters to their unborn children describing their own struggles against discrimination in their daily life. They are also sharing their advice for the next generation on ways to forever end racism and prejudice in this world. The timing of Trump’s election and our discussions about ways to end racism collided on Tuesday, election day.

Since President-elect Trump has outwardly made bigoted comments, this election result has brought a sad, sudden sense of fear to many of us who work in education or are a student. The focus for our Nov. 10 class was discussing our sentiments, and how to create hope despite the reality of knowing that we will begin 2017 with a president who has made many racist remarks throughout his campaign.

My feeling as an educator is that “hope is a decision,” a famous quote from Dr. Daisaku Ikeda. I want my students to feel and know that as faculty here, I will stand by them no matter what and that obtaining their education is still, as it always has been, key to their happiness. I know that by publishing a book, “Creating Peace” in connection with our 2016 reads book, our students can express their voice and their hopes and we, as an educational institution, can promote peace.

One of our student authors wrote in his peace letter to his unborn child: “I’ve been discriminated against for my skin color starting at a very young age. This is very painful. The way we treat each other and how we look at each other can only be defined by one person: You. Nobody was born a racist, and we are all the same. It doesn’t matter what religion, skin color, or culture you are from: Our blood is red and we are all human. People who say, ‘Go back to your country’ or ‘You don’t belong here’ don’t know that I was born here in the United States.”

Later, he writes, “Take care son. I hope that you can help people in need and learn from the mistakes that we, in this time period, are making.”

As we continue our writing process toward the publication of our book, my hope is that through words my students can feel the power of the pen that they possess to create peace even in these turbulent political times.