The Music of Anger: Voices, Community, and Thankfulness
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Politics and Activism

The Music of Anger: Voices, Community, and Thankfulness

If there is anything to be thankful for this election, it might be this

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The Music of Anger: Voices, Community, and Thankfulness
Jasmine Keuter

Confession: when I get sad, I look up plane tickets.

Which is to say, I’ve been on expedia.com a lot the past two weeks. "Maybe if I pick up an extra work shift I can make that trip to Canada," I say to myself.

I am looking for the company of my best friends, the silent understandings of those who have known me long. I’m looking for a little energy and love to feed off of; lately, mine has been running low, and it has to do with a certain American election.

Walking through campus on the 9th of November, the air was foggy with mourning. I must admit, though the news had disappointed me at first, it didn’t cause me as much anguish as it seemed to cause those around me. Perhaps because I hadn’t been following the election as intensely as my peers. Perhaps because America is not and has never been my home. I felt the anger, the bitterness, the sense of loss from others, but it didn’t come from within myself.

In the days following, I avoided social media as much as possible. It seemed to me a type of poison, bitter resentment flooding Facebook and YikYak feeds. Mount Holyoke has a large majority of Democrats and liberals. The celebration from the small Republican community upon Trump's victory felt like cheering in the face of a death of a loved one, and the lash back was loud and vengeful.

I struggled to empathize with either side. In this way I felt distant from my community.

But two things happened that allowed me to feel present in such disconcerting times.

The first, a sit in outside our library the day the results were announced. It was there, being physically present with those affected that I understood the gravity of the situation. I was given the trust of people I had never met before, as they opened up about their fears, for themselves and their families. I heard calls to solidarity, and reminders to love. I heard promises from students to use the privilege they have been handed, and use it to uplift those without. From the mouth of someone cast out of their home, marginalized by institutions, and then showed healing and kindness by the Mount Holyoke community, I heard a plea to always show other marginalized peoples that same kindness.

The second, on November 16 at 3 p.m., students and faculty alike marched the Mount Holyoke campus in solidarity with our immigrant friends and family. President-elect Donald Trump has stated multiple times in his campaign of his plan of mass deportation of undocumented immigrants. The #SanctuaryCampus movement advocates for the protection of those vulnerable to discriminatory laws should the Trump administration follow through with their promises. Most fervently championed in our community march was the protection of undocumented students from deportation. A letter with the demands of this movement was handed to college President Sonya Stephens at the end of this march, which included demands to refuse sharing voluntary information with Immigration Customs Enforcement, prohibiting campus police and security from asking about immigration status and prohibiting discrimination of student housing based on immigration status.

The biggest concern in opposition to these demands, as brought up by Mount Holyoke administration, is the loss of federal funding - which supports a bulk of student financial aid - should we refuse to comply with new laws.

Mount Holyoke is, for many, a safe haven. It’s not always perfect and loving, but compared to the prejudice of of the conservative homes and towns many of us come from, this is the community we can turn to. In standing with my peers, I am reminded of the power of our narratives to connect with each other and bring us to a place of empathy. I am proud of the things we, as a community, value. Our proactivism, and the culture we have created that emphasizes the importance of stepping out of virtual spaces, and supporting each other and the causes we believe through our presence.

I come from a place where protests were legal only in one corner of one park in the city, and even there, it had to be approved by government entities. Protests were not part of the culture, but complaining and Facebook rants were.

For me, the freedom in which we use our voices here - that’s a big deal. I hope we continue to be thankful everyday for the voices we are given. I hope we use them to show kindness, to uplift others, and most importantly to question - to not simply think in the slogans and signs we raise, but also seek out complexity and the other side in every situation.

The Music of Anger (This is the Year)
after Martín Espada, and all dreamers
by Adam Gottlieb

This is in fact the year that squatters evict landlords,
as we OCCUPY not only wall street but all streets,
shouting in unison, singing in harmony,

shutting down malls, shutting down bridges,

This is the year that starving artists save the world!
This is the year of reckless democracy:

Tent cities erected in Bank of America lobbies
firefighters playing bagpipes among the throngs,
millions of lights going out all at once
and guerrilla radio blasting
like Sandburg's mob waking up at last

Praise you people, praise the protesters,
bless you truth-speakers, bless all the tents,
come drummers, come crowds,

come hordes of screamers,

praise this Music of your loud anger

which is your hungry Love

This is the year the white house is covered with graffiti,
televisions are used as box drums,
and churches throw raging naked dance parties

This is the year that women make more money than men,
and men unabashedly cry,
In fact this is the year that genders are forgotten,
bathroom signs covered over in baby pictures.

This is the year bicycles swarm the streets
with car lanes squeezed to the margins

This is the year marijuana is legal, cheap and ubiquitous,
and fast food is banned as dangerous and addictive!

This is the year that prisons are filled not with boys who sold pot,
but rather men who ordered bombs to be dropped
and stole the wealth of countries for Coca Cola & Walmart
and raped the earth and its waters for Exxon Mobil & BP

This is the year a law is passed

prohibiting police officers from gathering

in groups larger than two

enforced by mobs of brown-skinned teenagers
armed with tanks and poetry

This is the year the ghosts of Trayvon Martin, Troy Davis,
Dominique Franklin, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Roshad McIntosh,
Sean Bell, Eric Garner, and all other victims of modern-day lynching
come to haunt the houses of their killers

This is the year Dred Scott resurrects
from the Calvary Cemetery in St. Louis
to appeal his case.

This is the year the whole f****ing system get indicted

This is the year Monsanto goes bankrupt in lawsuits lost to farmers in India

This is the year factory workers, bus drivers,
nurses, waitresses and busboys
trade jobs with politicians

This is the year teaching-artists can afford beach vacations

& CEOs have to work night jobs to pay rent

This is the year kids go to school

and teachers ask “What do you want to learn?”

and whatever they say

whether it's how to build a bike or how to make a pizza
how to play the drums or how to write a poem,
how to save the earth or the history of their people,
Chinese, farming, or what stars are made of

the teachers have to learn it with them

Éste es el año que la educación de “English-Only” está prohibido
y el bilingüismo es un requisito de la ciudadanía

This is the year that white folks are called “illegal aliens,”
and the presidents of Mount Rushmore

miraculously morph into the faces of Crazy Horse,

Black Elk, Fools Crow, and Chief Seattle

This is the year banners are lowered,
borders delegitimized, & barbed-wire fences crumble,

This is the year that every nation’s “independence day”
becomes “interdependence day”
the institutions of western so-called “civilization” topple
to be replaced by a new-old paradigm of natural balance

give what you can & take what you need

This is the year food and water are free
and gas is too expensive for everyone
in fact, this is the year money is worthless
and land is priceless

this is the year we remember

that we cannot buy or sell the earth
because we are Her

If Occupy began

as a vision
of people
having the debts that kept them slaves cleared,
then This is the year


If #BlackLivesMatter began
as a vision
of people
walking the streets without fear,
then This is the year

If every protest begins
as a vision
of people
empowered in body & spirit
Then this is the year it is so

if eyes are eyes...

so may every silent mouth,
dry as thirsty dirt,

open
with the music
of Anger.
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