There were not enough chairs for everyone who gathered 7 p.m. Wednesday in La Casa Latino Cultural Center for a discussion about election results.
“Hey, I didn’t even hug you yet,” a young woman said as she embraced an attendee.
Hugs filled the room before everyone settled into their seats and onto the floor of adjoining cramped rooms. The people who chatted and hugged were born in Mexico, Brazil and the United States among other countries.
They leaned over a table stocked with Keebler cookies and coffee.
While most stayed in the living room, some came specifically for an UndocuHoosier Alliance meeting and departed for the conference room.
When they first met in August, UHA members discussed sponsoring the Indiana Undocumented Youth Alliance and creating a brochure to inform undocumented students about attending college.
Today the meeting was different. The election of Donald Trump warranted the careful drafting of a letter asking IU to stand in support of undocumented Hoosiers. Members brainstormed a list of organizations and professors to ask for solidarity.
Professors and students and members of the community were angry, sad or a mix of both.
For some, Trump was a symbol of oppression, regression and ignorance, but they recognized, for others, he is a symbol of change and bringing back a certain set of values, yet those people did not gather in La Casa to cover their soft sobs with napkins.
Some of the people had run out of tears throughout the day. Some wanted to cry but could not.
Silences punctuated comments.
“You don’t have to worry about it,” IU freshman Jessica Benitez had heard too many times. “You were born here.”
“You don’t even look Mexican,” they said.
The people who said these kinds of things didn’t think about the ripple effect. They didn’t realize their political red translated to her pain.
“I just want to say I hope you feel comfortable coming to La Casa more often,” IU Ph.D. candidate Eric César Morales said to Benitez. “There’s a lot of us here that will welcome you.”
Some of the people in the room voted for Clinton, and some voted for Jill Stein.
Some of the people’s parents had come to the U.S. as undocumented immigrants in the 1970s. Some had been searching for a path to citizenship since the early 1990s.
Some of the people had to explain to their younger sisters and brothers that a portion of the country they woke up in would get rid of them out of convenience. Some fielded phone calls from their mothers and fathers, who advised them to take karate and promised they would become a citizen by the next election.
At one man’s suggestion, many of the people, with their vastly different experiences and futures, moved out to Showalter Fountain to join the Rally for Love.