Thursday, November 10, 2016
Nothing and Everything Changed
Yet, there was something different inside of me. See, I am non-white and an immigrant - fitting two of the categories (of many) which have been marginalized and attacked during the election campaign. I've lived in the U.S. for many years and in this town for the past ten. And even yesterday, as I was walking about town, I didn't really feel that different.
But today, something changed. Not the environment, the town, the people who I encountered and with whom I interacted. But something in my psyche, my emotional health, and psychological well-being. I felt suspicion and uneasiness. I was on higher alert for threats and dangers.
Intellectually, I know that the chance that something has changed so much in this town that I would actually be a target and victim is probably infinitesimally low. Yet the election of Donald Trump and the tacit approval of the rhetoric that goes along with that has attacked my psyche and emotions. And if that can happen to me -- who I acknowledge as fairly privileged in many ways, has never been overtly been a target of racism or hate, and in many ways never will be -- how much more fearful are those who actually have been victims and targets?
Even if you aren't a racist or bigot, your celebration of Trump hurts. Even if you really do love immigrants and would never do anything to harm them, your refusal to strongly denounce hateful talk is damaging. Even though (giving the benefit of doubt) that most Trump supporters really do care about people around them, your silence speaks volumes about what you value and what you don't.
Your admonition to us to "stop whining" tells us what we're feeling doesn't matter. Your admonition to us to "learn that we can't always have our way" is telling us that our concerns are invalid. When you tell us to "suck it up" and place the "nation first," it's telling us that diversity is only of value when it conforms to traditional Evangelical Christian, white European, cis-gender views. Or to put it another way, diversity is only valued as a token.
There is a palpable fear being experienced by those who have been devalued by Donald Trump, his campaign, and some of his outspoken supporters. I hope that President Trump will have the strength, courage, and discipline to reject measures and policies that devalue and dehumanize any number of groups of people. I hope that Congress and the judiciary will act as real checks and balances, if President Trump oversteps.
When you say you care about those who aren't quite like you; when you say that you want to protect and help the marginalized; when you say that you don't hate immigrants and people whose religion aren't yours -- we need you to actually vocalize that loudly and to act strongly to support what you claim. We need you to actually go outside your comfort zones; to listen to people who are terrified, to people who are physically ill from what has happened; to denounce any kind of hate and dehumanization. Because if you don't, even if you say you're not a racist or bigot, your silence communicates something very different. We need to know we can trust what you say.