Students Stand Strong Against Discrimination

By Elizabeth Lehman

Since the election of Donald Trump, flags have been burned and city streets have filled with protesters as people worry how Trump and Mike Pence’s stances on social issues will affect marginalized groups, including immigrants, Hispanics, Muslims, African Americans, women and the LGBT community.

Now that some time has passed, people have had a chance to regroup and figure out how to navigate this new political landscape. The question, for many, has become, what can we do now?

There are several organizations in the area that people can join, donate to or volunteer for in order to show their support. The Jambar talked to some people from these organizations to see what they think about the election results and how they recommend people deal with their feelings after the election.

Cryshanna Jackson-Leftwich, associate professor and adviser of the Black Student Union and the Youth Chapter of the NAACP, said joining and supporting special interest groups is a way to be proactive.

“I tell people it might just be time to really give them more power and a little more strength, so those minority groups can be heard … joining, donating, if you can’t give, mobilize, bring attention to what their issues are,” Jackson-Leftwich said.

Jackson-Leftwich said special interest groups need support from their members to get their messages heard by the public.

“A lot of these interest groups, in order to be successful, they have to have members, and they have to have members that are active and able to get their voices heard and get out there,” Jackson-Leftwich said.

Jackson-Leftwich said Pence’s conservative views are concerning, particularly for the LGBT community.

“Pence is very conservative,” Jackson-Leftwich said. “He’s ultra conservative, he believes in conversion therapy. He is not a friend of the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community.”

Marguerite Felice, leader of the Youngstown Area PFLAG group, said that while it is important to show respect for the grievances people have that made them vote for Trump, it must be recognized that these grievances cannot be resolved by denigrating and blaming people of different races, sexual orientations and gender identities.

“We need to work together to solve the difficulties and the challenges that we have, and we need to understand that our nation was built on diversity,” Felice said. “Our nation was built on immigration, it was built on people coming here for religious freedom and for other kinds of freedom.”

Felice said acceptance and respect are needed in our society.

“I think the more we can show acceptance, and at least respect, and be a voice for equality, a voice for unity, that’s what we need to do,” Felice said.

Felice said Youngstown Area PFLAG plans to continue to offer their support to the LGBT community.

“We continue to stand in solidarity with our LGBTQI friends, family, and continue to be of support, and we plan to continue to do so, now more than ever,” Felice said.

The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center of Greater Cleveland, an advocacy group for LGBT people in Northeast Ohio, released a statement following the election. They said their community is experiencing feelings of anger, uncertainty, grief and fear after the election.

“Many of us, especially those of us existing within the intersection of identities, have felt disenfranchised and scapegoated throughout this election season,” the release said.

The Center also noted an increase in involvement and financial support in the week after the election.

“We have received increased engagement and support — our community, both LGBTQ and ally individuals, have reached out to get involved with The Center, financially support The Center and, ultimately, have sought out The Center as a place for both information and solace,” the release said. “We know that you are feeling this because we are feeling and seeing your support.”

Chelsea Mishko from YSUnity said another way to be proactive after the election is to keep in touch with local and state representatives.

“I would say to call your local people and let them know that you are not OK with Trump and his ideas or the people he has appointed,” Mishko said.

Jackson-Leftwich also recommends communicating with legislators and speaking about concerns.

“There’s a bill we don’t like, contact the congressman, hold Portman accountable, hold Sherrod Brown accountable,” Jackson-Leftwich said. “[People need to be] contacting their representatives.”

Jackson-Leftwich said people need to go out and vote in future elections if they are not happy with the decisions of current legislators.

“If you’re really concerned about this presidency, then in two years, you have to vote Democrat, because you have to try to stop them,” Jackson-Leftwich said. “It’s all Republican now. You have to put people in place. A lot of people didn’t turn out for this election. I don’t know if people will turn out in 2018. So, if people just post on social media and are upset, and they don’t actually get out there or put candidates that are viable candidates that can replace the candidates that we want out, then there is something to be afraid of.”

Jackson-Leftwich said equality is not something that happens overnight and is something that needs to be consistently fought for.

“You take two steps forward, and then sometimes you get knocked down,” she said. “Are you going to fight it out, are you going to lay down, are you going to get the country back?”