A four-year reflection: ‘Kids will be reading about 2016 and 2020 in their history books’

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Photo credit: Il.usembassy.gov

Joe Biden visits Israel in March of 2016. History teacher Kathleen Niles reflected on the past four years: “There is a way in which that I think Americans have been able to not see some really important elements of our society because pre-Trump society didn’t talk about things as openly.”

As Joe Biden is officially inaugurated into office, Archer community members reflected on the past four years, known to many as “The Trump Era.” From systemic racism to assaults on voting rights, these past four years were quite “flawed” according to sophomore Sophie Altemus. 

Altemus said that the one good thing to come about from Trump’s presidency, however, was the idea that being politically engaged is a positive thing and isn’t something that should be considered “weird” or “too complicated.”

“I’ve noticed that the youth in my generation has begun to rise and check the government,” Altemus said. “I think it’s been really important.” 

When history teacher Kathleen Niles reflected upon the past four years she said that everything about the time period stood out. 

“There has been more light shed on anti-democratic practices like assaults on voting rights,” Niles said. “Although these assaults aren’t good and the rhetoric around Trump’s presidency isn’t good, it does bring awareness and clarity to some larger systemic and structural forces and inequalities that many of us have been able to ignore.”

Sophomore Marin Terry echoed this sentiment, saying that “racism getting an outlet” gave more moderate Americans some insight into Black, Indigenous and people of color’s experiences and struggles.

“I think it was unique the way that people finally got to see what my world is like [as a Black person],” Terry said. “People finally understood [that] this is how people of color are living. It was so clear to them that now… they [white people] had to make a new America.”

As the United States moves into a new administration, Biden emphasized the need for unity in his inauguration speech. 

“History, faith, and reason show the way, the way of unity. We can see each other, not as adversaries, but as neighbors,” Biden said. “We can treat each other with dignity and respect. We can join forces, stop the shouting, and lower the temperature. For without unity, there is no peace, only bitterness and fury.”

Biden furthered his call to action by elaborating on the political polarization of the United States today.

“We must end this uncivil war that pits red against blue rural versus urban, conservative versus liberal,” Biden said. “We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts.”

This message aligned with Altemus’ own hope: to heal the “political divide” in our country.

“In order to bridge that gap [between left wing and right wing], I think it’s also important for them [Biden’s administration] to acknowledge the internalized and systemic flaws of American institutions,” Altemus said. “Once they either completely tear down the institutions or make changes to them, they can educate the public and educate themselves. I think that’s something that’s really important to unify the country.”