During our advisory meetings on Wednesday morning, I told my all-white advisory that the election doesn’t affect most of the students in this school and that they are too privileged to realize who is actually affected. I was faced with both acknowledgment and defensiveness from that group. Most of my past week has been spent being frustrated and annoyed with the behavior of many white students (specifically white boys) agonizing over the election. I want to make it clear that I don’t discredit anyone’s feelings about the election as we are all worried about the outcome and the future of the presidency, but we have to realize which groups are heavily affected by the current administration; let us acknowledge whose lives are at stake.
This country was created to benefit and give privilege to white people, but it was mostly focused on benefitting the white man. The cisgender, heterosexual, protestant white man. The WASP. Our current political administration is run by white men, most of whom support white supremacist and discriminatory beliefs. Our school administration is run by a white man and has many white men in power, including faculty and the student government. We have to recognize that white men have and always will be more privileged and be power holders in this society wherever we go. However, it is not permanent and we can change that. I thought that, even though I personally don’t support Joe Biden or Donald Trump, Biden would diminish the power of white men, and even white women, creating equity and equality by giving more opportunities and representation to BIPOC. Why else would he elect Kamala Harris? That’s when I began to understand that Joe Biden is also a cisgender, heterosexual white man that appeals to a lot of white people for the sole purpose that he’s “more liberal than Trump”.
When I saw all these “Vote For Biden” or “Register to Vote” posters on Instagram and social media, I noticed it was mostly driven by white people. The voices of BIPOC were silenced except for when young white people used it as performative activism and to appear “woke”. What irks me is how many fail to realize who is actually suffering the outcome of this election: BIPOC (specifically black and LatinX Americans), those part of DACA, LGBTQ+ communities, women unable to get an abortion, visa holders, people in high levels of poverty, etc. We also have to acknowledge that even if you are white and fall under these categories, you are still privileged in every way within this country because of the color of your skin. Grace is in a predominantly blue state and blue city, and although a high number of Americans voted for Trump, we will always be more privileged than others due to our location. Our school is a predominantly white, socioeconomically privileged institution. On top of that, many of you have had fairly comfortable lives in the past 4 years during the Trump administration. Now of course I don’t know what happens in everyone’s lives, but it’s fair to say that if you are white and socioeconomically privileged in this country you are automatically entitled to a better life than most people, especially BIPOC.
What isn’t being acknowledged is how the election is being used as an excuse to not do work under the guise of preserving your mental health. In this world, only white people are more valued and cared for when it comes to mental health. People of color don’t receive the same care and respect from their peers due to the idea that we’re “stronger” and used to it. Let me say that the mental health of BIPOC matters equally to the mental health of white people. Seeing young white people complaining about the election’s effect on their mental health is mind-boggling because many of them are extremely privileged and won’t lose their lives after the outcome. We are all worried about the election, but there’s so much worse that goes on in this world that actually affects people’s lives.
When COVID had started, seniors from the class of 2020 had sent a petition to end school early. Everyone got on board with it because no one wanted to come into class and do in-person school. When there were climate marches, people signed petitions to have class end early. In June, at the peak of the Black Lives Matter protests amidst the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the young black women in our school told the administration to cancel classes, which happened, yet many students did not bother to show up. They wanted to opt-out of the conversation of race. And now the same thing is happening with the election; white students are hopping on board to ditch school. When BIPOC want to take days off to talk about race white students will opt out, but when it’s about something that pertains to them, they will get on board immediately. How does that work? We can’t be a community ‘striving to be anti-racist’ and do the complete opposite.
And now with the complaints of the election and having a whole week off of work. I give my respect to the student government and the work they do, but the election should not be an excuse not to do work. I can speak for all seniors in saying that this college process is legitimate hell on top of the intense course load and finish supplements. But I still power through the day. I know for a fact that schools in other areas would not allow their students to have a week-long extension because of something that minutely affects them personally. To be honest, I feel like my time is wasted in hearing the tears and complaints of a lot of white people talking about their mental health in this election. I respect you, but at the same time there is no excuse to not do work. I don’t want to look like a rude, arrogant senior and minority, but this has gotten out of hand. We are finding every excuse and thing going on in this world to use as a way to get out of school. We are all privileged by virtue of attending a private school in New York City where we all have roofs over our heads, and even nice meals catered to us and tutors and counselors. We have the ability to take private cars, Ubers, and buses to our apartments and houses. If you are not directly affected by this election and the policies of this country, do not put your “oppression” and “tears” over the people who are actually suffering.
I’d like to end this by saying that I have been at this school long enough to know the culture of the student body. I know that students will cancel the wrong students for the wrong reasons. If I get canceled for speaking my truth, I am very much fine with that because I know deep in my heart, I am doing the right thing and right work to make this community a better place, and if you disagree with me, that’s on you.