RYSE Youth Center creates space to cope with post-election disappointment

Staff at the RYSE Youth Center embrace during a Post-Election Gathering at the center. Photo by Angeline Bernabe.

Staff at the RYSE Youth Center embrace during a Post-Election Gathering at the center. Photo by Angeline Bernabe.

The mood was somber at the RYSE Youth Center on Wednesday, following news of Donald Trump’s presidential win.

“A lot of people are feeling a mixture of emotions,” said RYSE Lead Coordinator Brian Villa. “We’re on a roller coaster of emotions and people are still processing.”

To help the community cope with those emotions, RYSE invited the public to come into the center for a Post-Election Gathering on Wednesday afternoon.

“It’s important as a community to really hold space for each other and ourselves and really just heal and talk it over,” Villa said.

The center had hosted an Election Night Party for youth the night before. As election results trickled in, bringing disappointment in turn, RYSE coordinators knew they had to create a space for people to heal the following day, said RYSE director of community health Khanwarpal Dhaliwal.

“It couldn’t be business as usual today,” said Dhaliwal. “If you broke down how young people voted and how millennials voted it’s overwhelmingly not for Trump,” she said.

Statistics on how millennials voted in Contra Costa County are unavailable, but according to the Contra Costa County Clerk-Recorder-Elections Department, 67 percent of county voters cast their ballots in favor of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, 25 percent in favor of Trump.

Half an hour into RYSE’s event, an employee received word that students from Richmond High School had walked off campus in protest over Trump’s win. Without hesitation, the group at RYSE left the building to join the students marching down MacDonald Ave.

“It was crazy,” said RYSE Youth Justice Coordinator Maaika Marshall. “It just went all from us sitting around in a circle to joining Richmond High School walking out in protest.”

Shante Lewis, a clinical therapist who works at RYSE, said that there are so many ways that the community has been coping with the election results, and that students walking out of high school was just one of them.

“We have a legacy of resilience and resistance,” said Villa, speaking of his generation of millennials. “I think now’s the time to really uphold that and continue on the movement.”

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