Sunday, November 13, 2016

Bridging the Trump Gap

Inhale. Exhale. Disengage. Re-engage. Try to figure it all out. Just forget it and move on. Try to be positive. But I can't.

After Tuesday night's election, where Donald Trump was elected as the next President of the United States, I was thrust into a state of grief, hopelessness and devastation I haven't felt in awhile. I cried alone Tuesday night. I cried Wednesday with my colleagues and co-workers. And we cried not simply for the loss of Hillary, but for the loss of our faith in humanity. Eventually my depression subsided, but as I watched the surge in hate crimes around America, I became afraid. And now, as I see more and more people supporting Trump, glossing over the "fine details", and ignoring the impact that his election has had on the social climate around us is simply pissing me off. And to process these feelings, I must blog.

Now I recognize that there are varying degrees of support for Trump: some people (like the KKK) are blatant racists who identified with the candidate who systematically attacked every non-white ethnic group from Hispanics to Middle Easterners, from Blacks to Asians. Some people (like right wing Christians) are not at all racist, but they identified with the man who swore to abolish abortion and overturn the Supreme Court ruling of Marriage Equality because he aligned with their religious beliefs. Some people are none of those things, but they are still feeling the after effects of 9/11 and are facing the very real dangers of terrorism in an ISIS world.So they identified with a self-proclaimed leader who has promised to ban potentially dangerous Muslims and refugees because they are scared and need to feel safe somehow.

Others on the other hand are not at all racist, heterosexist (this is the more appropriate term beyond homophobic), or misogynistic, and they're not against refugees or Muslims. These are the people who simply agreed with Trump's actual campaign and platform about changing the welfare state, securing gun rights, creating more jobs, reforming socialized medical care, etc. Now I highly doubt that there has ever been a political candidate that anyone has agreed with 100%. There are always issues that we don't necessarily care for, there are usually topics which we find ourselves on the exact opposite side of the debate, and often times there are presented solutions that are not as powerful or effective as we would like them to be. But we prioritize the issues that are most important to us, and use this as our guiding compass to determine which candidate will help the country become the home we want it to be.

Unfortunately many people don't seem to prioritize racism, sexism, heterosexism, and sexual assault as bigger issues. As one person said when I was debating over the precarious Trump campaign on Facebook, "we need to agree to disagree on the fine details and recognize that we agree on the major points." The fine details. So suddenly these extremely perilous social illnesses are minute details in the greater scheme of the race to become the most powerful leader in the world. For those who glossed over the fine details and voted for Trump, what they don't understand is whether or not they agreed with the racism, the sexism, the heterosexism, and the sexual assault, they voted for a man who represented these things.

Now he's president. It's a catastrophe that...ahem...trumps the debacle of Brexit in the UK and our future is dreary and uncertain. But the difference between us and Brexit is the morning after their vote, most Brits realized they made a mistake. Most people, steeped in regret, begged for another chance to vote. And they now cling to hope that as Parliament reviews the decision, the vote will not be honored. Here, many people have cheered, many people have celebrated, no one has uttered a single "my god what have we done?" Trump supporters are arguing, justifying, and ignoring in the worst case of confirmation bias I have ever seen. Many refuse to discuss the hate-filled rants that made Trump notorious throughout the world. Others acknowledge their existence only to refute it, blaming the media for making Trump look bad with doctored videos, edited sound bites, and fabricated quotes, even though the evidence is there in front of them. Some people have pleaded with us to "find the good in him" and give him a chance. While he may have had a few positive moments worth highlighting during his campaign, Trump's escalating derogatory comments against minorities often eclipsed any good deeds, and this was no one's fault but his own. In the end, he made it very clear that today's colorful America was not the America he planned to maintain. And now our society is falling apart at the seams.

Hate crimes are rising. More and more reports are flowing in all over the nation of people attacking minorities and many of us do not feel safe walking down the streets. Adult men are grabbing Muslim women's hijabs off their heads, throwing them to the ground, telling other women they are going to grab them by the pussy, and actually trying to. White men are beating black men and gays. The KKK is throwing a celebratory march for Trump's victory, and came out in droves yesterday in Anaheim, California to battle the anti-Trump protests. Children are chanting "build that wall" in lunchrooms, driving Latino youth to tears. One high-schooler created homemade Deportation notices and handed them out to everyone in his school who looked even remotely Hispanic. Someone hanged a black baby doll in a college university. A friend of mine told me she witnessed a hate crime sitting outside a restaurant in Long Beach, where a white man told an Asian man to "pack [his] bags, because [his] time in this country is limited." Following Brexit, another vote saturated in xenophobia, hate crimes rose by 60% and are continuing in spite of the time that has passed. This is our future. With his demonizing, divisive speeches, our President-elect has created an atmosphere where people feel it is okay to perpetuate these acts of violence and hatred, and we're terrified of it. But Trump supporters refuse to acknowledge it. They don't mention it and won't denounce it. Trump finally did, in an interview with 60 Minutes he gave a very effective "stop it."

They also refuse to acknowledge the very real threats Trump/Pence poses to minorities with promises to overturn Marriage Equality and stop any protective measures for LGBTs, promises to kick out refugees and refuse to provide them a safe haven from their war torn countries, promises to bring back torture tactics in the military, ending environment protection, and defund planned parenthood (which is mostly HIV treatments, contraception, and cancer screenings, far beyond the small percentage of abortions).

I can't count how many times I have heard that we are acting like babies, throwing tantrums, whining like children because we didn't win the game. Others maintain that we should respect other peoples' opinions, that we need to learn to agree to disagree. Many say that we are being uncooperative and we need to learn to unite and work together for our country. So how do we bridge the gap?

First of all, let me tell you, there is not and never will be an "Agree to Disagree" on racism, sexism, heterosexism, or sexual assault. There is no gray area, no common ground where we should compromise on these issues. But if we agree that not all of you who voted for Trump are racist, misogynistic, heterosexist, or rapists, you must acknowledge that Trump has made very racist, misogynistic, heterosexist comments that are not okay, and you cannot pretend that he did not admit to sexually assaulting women. Secondly if we agree that not all of you are going to attack us or rob us of our rights, you cannot disregard or dismiss that we minorities are being threatened and attacked by other Trump supporters and by Trump's own promises to degrade and devalue us as human beings. You cannot mock us for feeling unsafe just because the violence and future laws don't impact you. Thirdly, if you think we are overreacting or panicking needlessly, you can laugh skeptically and assure us that nothing bad is going to happen, but you must promise to stand with us if we are being attacked in the community or if our basic rights are going to be threatened by some law or Supreme Court ruling in the future.

This is the beginning of this compromise. Refusal to acknowledge these basic truths is a refusal to begin the conversation. If we listen to you, you must listen to us, support us, and stand with us. Then and only then can we converse, problem-solve, and unite.

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