“This will prove to be a great time in the lives of ALL Americans. We will unite and we will win, win, win!” President elect Donald J. Trump tweeted as millions of Americans marched the streets in protest against his success; millions of Americans who are riddled with confusion and anger – emotions so powerful that they are morphed into incomprehensible white noise – seeming as though tearing apart and analyzing this event is impossible in its complexity and vortex of emotion. However, many of his supporters are confused as to why many refuse to support him. Minorities, including Blacks, Latinx, members of the LGBTQ+ community, Muslims, immigrants of color and many others, justify their actions by stating that Trump will not protect them.
Many women fear what is to come after Trump spewed multiple sexist comments, especially since the release of the Trump tapes with Access Hollywood, and voiced his traditionalist views that support the pro-life ideology. Many members of the LGBTQ+ community are not necessarily afraid of Trump, instead they fear Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, who believes in conversion therapy and the notion that homosexuals should not be treated for HIV/AIDS and should instead “fix themselves.”
Muslims say that they are afraid to outwardly express their religious beliefs after Trump stated on his website, “Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Immigrants, specifically Mexican immigrants, are afraid of being deported after Trump stated at one of his rallies, “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. . . They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. . . It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and it’s coming probably – probably – from the Middle East.”
Looking at the bigger picture, it is not only what Trump and Pence have stated that is concerning for minorities, but the actions of many Trump supporters during his campaign and after the election. Many people said that they view Trump’s winning as a motivating force that encourages certain supporters to act upon their negative implicit biases; Trump’s winning is essentially seen as a big thumbs up and validation of outward bigotry. As shown in videos at his rallies, a mantra of “build a wall” would echo throughout the vicinity as people would yell racial and xenophobic slurs, shove protestors and adorn shirts saying, “Hillary sucks, but not like Monica,” and “Make America Great Again!” However, it must also be noted that not all Trump supporters are bigots and not everyone who voted for him is one. Many people who did vote for him, either because of his fiscal policies or because they feel a sense of obligation to put in a vote for the Republican party regardless of the candidate, but they do not support his social views. In this case, the question is no longer, “Do you hate minorities?” and is a concrete statement of, “You do not care about minorities. You are willing to compromise the wellbeing of the oppressed for other factors.”
Since the election, there has been an increase in hate crimes, especially across campuses ranging from elementary schools to universities. Just ten days after the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported 867 hate crimes, a majority of them anti-black, anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim. According to the Washington Post, black freshmen students at the University of Pennsylvania were added to a group chat titled “N***** Lynching” where a lynching calendar was posted. A law student who reported the incident to the Vice Provost office stated, “I just can’t stop crying. I feel sick to my stomach. I don’t feel safe.” Kids and teens would chant popular Trump slogans including, “Build a wall!” “White power” and “Go back to your country.” Many people have even drawn parallels between Trump and Hitler as some Trump supporters have been yelling sayings such as, “Heil Trump” and drawing swastikas with white supremacist sayings around them.
Similar hate crimes and acts of intimidation took place on other college campuses, including Villanova University, Baylor University, Wellesley College, and The University of Michigan. Sayings such as, “Make America White Again,” “Heil Trump,” “Black Lives Don’t Matter and neither does your vote” and swastikas with pro-Trump sayings have been graffitied onto buildings. According to Huffington Post and FBI data, Trump’s rhetoric has been connected to an 89% spike in hate crimes against Muslims and an encouragement of white supremacist behavior. According to the National Education Association, teachers say that Trump has ignited bullying and harassment in schools. Such hatred has even provoked a negative effect on the mental health of students as a middle school counselor from Florida reported to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “In a 24-hour period, I completed two suicide assessments and two threat of violence assessments for middle school students. This was last week, one week after the election. . . students were threatening violence against African Americans. Students were suicidal and without hope. Fights, disrespect have increased as well.”
Of course, bigotry in America is not new. But one incessant question prevails: what will the next four years be like if this is just the beginning?
Graphic: Jessica Chang