By Anna Liss-Roy ‘20
On Friday, November 11 at 2pm crowds of students, faculty and community members assembled at the steps of the Claremont Colleges Library for a student-organized rally called “Claremont Colleges United Against Hate.”
In a public Facebook group summoning the local community to action, its organizers described the event as an effort “to condemn the vitriolic hate spread by Donald Trump” and to “demand and reaffirm the Claremont Community’s dedication to protect LGBTQ+ rights, racial equality, disability rights, religious freedom, and all other marginalized communities attacked by Trump.”
Protestors were asked to wear all black.
The event commenced around 2:15 p.m. with opening remarks by chief organizer Jacquelyn Aguilera PZ ’19, who recounted her shock and terror in response to Trump’s presidential victory. Standing on a raised platform, one fist gripping the megaphone, the other raised in the air, Aguilera asked the crowd to repeat a quote by Assata Shakur: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love and support one another. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
To the beat of a pounding drum, Aguileraand several other organizers led the mass of protestors in a route around the consortium, chanting “America Was Never Great,” “Black lives matter,” “Migrant rights are human rights,” and “El pueblo unido, jamás sera vencido.”
After the march, students and faculty shared personal experiences and discussed what it means to be an ally to marginalized groups, as well as possible routes of support to take.
“It is not wrong to support our Muslim brothers and sisters and to fight Trump’s promise to ban them,” said Pitzer professor Jose Calderon, who emphasized the importance of working to “create a kind of equal and just world that we want to live in our dorms, in our cafeterias, in our classrooms, and in our communities.”
“We stand in solidarity against the hate that has become normalized discourse in this campaign...we do not believe in building walls,” said Nigel Boyle, Interim Dean of Faculty at Pitzer.
Following faculty speakers, undocumented students from the Claremont Colleges stood in front of the crowd, arms around each other. “I am speaking to our allies,” one student speaker said. “It matters.”
In Aguilera’s closing remarks, she listed three possible courses of action: supporting the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Coalition, continuing to express dissent, and self-educating, listening, and practicing radical self-love.
“For many of us, existence itself is an act of resistance,” said Aguilera. “[Self-love] is especially important for marginalized communities now that our identities are under attack. Without self-love and understanding, you are both worthy and capable of love, it would be difficult to continue the battle.”
The protest itself was a flurry of different components met with applause and the occasional standing ovation bound together by forward-looking rhetoric and the theme of enduring-- no matter how difficult the next four years may prove to be. “Those not shaken to their soul with agony have no say in how we feel, deal, or fight. This election was never a game for if our survival would be comfortable or awkward, it was a question of if our survival would be possible at all,” said Eliamani Ismail ’20 in a poem she had written that she read into the megaphone, as protestors jumped to their feet in a standing ovation.
“The march was not an action but rather a call-to-action,” said Aguilera. “We have nothing to lose but our chains.”