Yesterday morning I woke up, 5:45 AM, groggy and almost instantly hopeless, to news that would horrify any queer, Moroccan Jewish girl: Donald Trump, a man whose running mate believes that homosexuality can be electrocuted out of youth, who hints at antisemitic conspiracy theories to pander to neo-nazi supporters, who hates immigrants despite being married to one, had won the American presidency. In the eyes of my American peers I can, as a Canadian, sleep tight tonight knowing that few Trump policies will affect me directly. It has, however, opened up a whole new internet for people who hate me and mine, and every thing that makes up my identity.
In this age of social media, I of course woke to a Facebook newsfeed full of fear; people sharing LGBT and suicide hotline phone numbers, tweets from hijabi Muslim girls and women who were terrified of leaving their houses, black women told to sit at the back of the bus while having slurs thrown at them, swastikas plastered on buildings with the words “Seig Heil Trump!” next to them. I can say in complete confidence that I had never felt more scared for the safety of people near and dear to me on this side of the world.
I also woke up to a new attitude from the political right, conservatives known for throwing terms like “triggered” and “libtard” at people who speak out against the injustice they’ve experienced. In reaction to little girls waking up afraid of being visibly muslim, one woman commented “What was it like to wake up as a baker, a photographer or anyone else who was forced to create something she didn’t want to under Obama?,” as if hate crimes against a visible minority are comparable to an inability to discriminate based on one’s sexuality. In reaction to a child of immigrants calling Trump’s immigration policies racist, I found a sea of “But liberals have been mean too! They called me racist/sexist/a bigot!”
Let me be very clear: calling someone a racist isn’t “mean.” There is no “mean” intent behind a scared member of a minority fighting for their basic human rights. There is no “nice” way to fight 50% of the voting population of the country in which you live who do not believe that you and your community deserve to live in safety. Being “mean” to white conservatives when they call Muslims terrorists, or Latino people illegal may sting them, but it is nothing in comparison to being threatened with deportation and murder, which is the reality these minorities live with every day. What is especially ironic is that the same people who claim that liberals are being “mean” to those who wrong them are entirely fine with the racism, misogyny and general bigotry that spawned criticism in the first place. This sends a very clear message: I don’t care about your safety. I don’t care about your pain. I do not care about you. I care about the status quo.
In this time of divisiveness and fear, listen to the voices of the communities who awoke yesterday in fear. Put away your hurt feelings, and prioritize their fight for basic human rights. Fight along with these people, and uplift them. The future of their communities very well may depend on it.