To my fellow students:
Like many of you, I have mixed to negative feelings about what happened on the election night. Upon the election of a businessman from New York who caused a stir with his words and actions from the past, I became concerned that some of my friends, especially immigrants, would be in a disadvantage for years to come.
However, I believe that this should not be a cause to skip school, walk out of lectures, and just chant around campuses saying that we will not accept the president-elect to take the Oval Office. As students and intellectuals, we have the power and privilege to learn latest technologies and ideas, experiment with latest techniques, analyze information, and contribute to the political process through our voices and advocacy. Walking out of lectures just because our favorite candidate did not win is, to me, a disgrace to our forefathers who fought for universal suffrage to come to life, who fought for democratic process to take shape via reasoned dialogue, and saw long-term implications of student movements and laid the foundation to privileges we enjoy in 2016.
I believe that there are other ways of helping those in need, particularly those we feel would be disadvantaged in the future. Certainly we can go and embrace minorities, we can assist immigrants with advice, and can formulate changes through dialogue. As students, we are still learning, and we could use our intellectual capacity to inform and persuade the electorate. As students, we are given a mandate to learn principles and methods to guide the future generations. As students, we are given an opportunity to make a difference through reasoned discourse and critical analysis. As students, we are in a position of leadership to peacefully demand changes and let the new national leaders know that we are a force that cannot be ignored through reasoned advocacy. As students, we can serve as voice for the voiceless, champion for the oppressed, and participants in a historic moment to tear down the Great Wall of Ignorance.
To my fellow students who believe that they can exercise privilege to ignore minorities and partake in silent oppression: come, let us reason together. Bring your case, and students who have experienced oppression and ignorance can bring their case. Because of the physical and virtual wall called "ignorance and prejudice", you are creating a situation where America's progress has come to a halt. Please stop building this wall, or would-be partners (immigrants, minority students and others) will build a taller and thicker wall, thereby impairing America's capacity to recognize, accept, deal with, and move on from America's dark past of oppression and prejudice. Please learn while you are young, otherwise history will repeat itself. Learn while you can, because there will come a day in life where one cannot go back to change how things are then. You can, and you are more than capable of making a difference in making America great and whole again. As a student with disabilities and minority status, I offer you a hand in hopes that we can come together, embrace and work together to making this nation great again.
To my fellow students who were oppressed, ignored or prejudiced due to their minority status: do not pay back evil with evil, prejudice with prejudice, or ignorance with more ignorance. As much as those with privilege may have partaken in silent oppression, you are also responsible for partaking in divisions by building a thicker wall. Learn to have reasoned dialogues with others before it is too late. Represent the oppressed before it is taken away. You and the privileged have shared responsibility of kindling the fire of reconciliation, and even if it takes generations, be sure to let this flame going.
To all my fellow students, privileged, minority and what not: America is possible because we work together. America is possible because we are learning what to and not to do in the future. America is possible because we are united to make this nation better. America is possible because we are learning to reconcile our differences. America is possible because we have capacity to love, embrace and understand. America is possible because we can tear down the walls that separate us. America is possible because we can learn from mistakes of our forefathers together. America is possible because we can make history together. America is possible because we are building the future of this nation together. America is possible because we are all Americans - native or foreign-born, across race, ethnicity and cultures, different values and beliefs, all because we are created equal, endowed with vast freedom. All I, a fellow student with blindness and from a city with hundreds of diverse cultures, ask you to do is this: remember and learn from the glorious and dark past, reconcile the differences, and reach out to love, embrace, understand and work together. The future of this nation - from Washington to Honolulu and beyond - depends on us - students.
Joseph S. Lee
Los Angeles City College
November 9, 2016