Regardless of who you voted for and why, these are important issues to consider.
A lot of people are scared. The United States is facing an unprecedented situation in which a demagogue openly utilized race-baiting and ethno-nationalist appeals to successfully capture the White House. There is debate to what degree this played a role in the results, but the fact is that it did.
Whether you’re one of the 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States alarmed by Donald’s toying around with a national registry of practicing Muslims, or one of many Dreamers who fear mass deportation of their families and, perhaps, even themselves, the election of a man who ran on hate and has newly emboldened the racist-fringe (or, depending on your perspective, simply ripped the mask off a thriving racism intrinsic to white American identity), Donald represents a threat verging on existential.
Donald’s rallies were safe spaces for a vocal and public form of bigotry that the United States hasn’t seen in a longtime. Calls for lynchings and the use of virulently racist language echoed beneath a campaign rhetoric that dehumanized ethnic groups for the sake of political expediency. Across the country, white nationalist groups from the KKK to Neo-Nazi organizations have experienced a “Trump Bump.” They’ve made easy use of the candidate’s divisive rhetoric in their own propaganda, espousing white power and playing on people’s desire for a return to an imaginary United States that never even existed. Donald himself has used memes created by Neo-Nazi parties, as well as antisemitic graphics originating in what were once considered the dark corners of the internet. Now those dark corners are exerting a colossal influence on the public’s imagination. Donald, after all, never had to put up a defense after he used these factually inaccurate and racist images, such was the bizarre nature of an election cycle throughout which a candidate so forcefully threw off the yoke of common human decency with winning results.
The effects of this normalization of hate are readily visible. In Philadelphia and New Mexico, Nazi graffiti went up over night side-by-side with pro-Donald slogans, in some instances directly targeting black people. A Muslim woman was assaulted by Donald supporters in San Diego. Schools across the nation are dealing with vandalism that prominently features racist language directed at everyone from Middle Eastern to black students. It is, to put it simply, a horrifying social climate for people who are not of European descent. For anyone who doubted the existence of white privilege – regardless of your political affiliation – compare your sense of comfort and safety following Tuesday to the feelings of people impacted by these incidents and please indulge in a moment of self-reflection.
There is a small sign you can show in solidarity with these populations. Following Brexit – a woefully ill-considered move by Great Britain to exit the European Union – refugees grew fearful for their status, as the success of the ‘leave’ campaign stemmed partly from backlash against their arrival. British citizens sympathetic to the victims of racism began wearing safety pins to show that British people were not monolithic, and to broadcast themselves as safe individuals to talk to. Now, citizens in the United States dismayed at the dehumanization of marginalized groups are following suit.
It is tragic that following an election we have to consider deploying symbols of anti-violence in order to make people feel safe, but that is the situation we face. Regardless of whatever moderating influence the establishment imparts on Donald’s administration, the movement that helped put him in place is invigorated, and it’s not going away.