Of all the things I had imagined happening during the tension and anxiety leading up to the 2016 presidential election I did not consider that I would be facilitating a podcast class the day after Trump was elected president. I drove to Centro Tyrone Guzman (El Centro) anxious, a knot in my stomach and dried tears in my eyes. It was my first of many podcast session over the course of a year working with Minneapolis based latinx youth. I was tasked with facilitating their exploration of new technologies to find and disseminate their perspective and voice, but this day my work had added purpose.
I sat in my car wondering how to address the election, feeling very unsure. I read posts from educators describing their approach. There wasn't a real consensus but what I saw most consistently was the idea of stopping the daily motions, setting things aside and acknowledging each other's feelings. So that’s what we did. I grounded the space as best I could with the support of youth facilitators that worked for El Centro. The observations, experiences and reflections of the Latinx youth surprised me. It hurt to hear it.
One of the oldest of the group, who went to a majority white school, described how white youth had already started chanting, "build a wall". Worst still the school blamed him if he got upset. He, along with the other youth of color, were forced to be quiet in the face of bigotry and hostility. He was asked to be resilient in a way that should be asked of no one.
Other students expressed fear and anxiety. The strain on mixed-status families was already present as the youth faced the possibility of the deportation of undocumented family members and for some, the possibility of their own deportation. I was surprised by how much these middle school youth had observed and absorbed so much. Our conversation centered me. I began to consider what I would be willing to risk and how my life would be directed by being apart of the resistance to Trump with the greatest urgency I had ever experienced. It was the sort of bonding I would have never anticipated: anchored in our shared vulnerability in unprecedented times.
So here is the product of middle school-aged Latinx youth wadding into introspection to find an aspect of their voice through podcasting. While their age is evident, their moments of clarity and directness are things that feel hopeful while simultaneously unkind. Our experience together became a needed space for mutual vulnerability and processing during this new hostile and uneasy time.
-Filiberto Nolasco Gomez