|Written by Cat Whipple,
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Donald Trump won the election, much to everyone’s surprise and in many cases, horror. I personally thought it could happen, even though many said it was not possible, given the amount of hatred he spewed out toward every group that wasn’t white, Christian and male. But having grown up in South Dakota in the 1960s, I know just how racist some white Americans can be. So even though I hoped and prayed that he would not get elected, I was not all that surprised.
At it’s core, America has always had a large faction of white people who believe this country is “theirs”. According to those white people, they built this country with their blood, sweat, tears, and superior brain power. And why wouldn’t they think that? Look at what is taught in history classes across the U.S. It’s all about the “discoveries” and achievements of white men. Rarely do people of color (or women) get mentioned in school text books, and when we do, we are side-notes, short chapters (if any at all) that are quickly passed over.
During his campaign Trump threatened to deport millions of immigrants, make Muslims register so they can be tracked and watched, promised to build a wall between Mexico and the U.S., and made other racist and xenophobic promises.
People and the media laughed at him and did not take him seriously. They did not understand just how terrified many white Americans are of anyone who is not “them”. Trump tapped into a whole subculture of racism that has existed in this country since its founding. And we now know just how large those numbers are. Trump is a serious threat to all Americans who are not white, male, and Christian. And he and his almost-entirely-white, millionaire cabinet members will move into the Oval Office on January 20th.
The Republican party has continued to lurch further and further to the right, having been taken over by religious extremists who believe that everyone should believe what they believe, if not by choice, then by political force.
One of the first, and scariest, things Trump did was to add Steve Bannon to his transition team. Chief White House strategist and senior counselor to the president, Bannon is an white supremacist who runs Breitbart.com, an ultra-right-wing website that routinely posts racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic trash to its readers. This is the man who will have Trump’s ear, counsel him on national policy, and have an office just down the hall from him.
Another scary person that Trump will bring into his administartion is Jeff Sessions, who was deemed to be too racist to be a federal judge under the Reagan administration. Sessions is Trump’s choice for attorney general.
All of Trump’s talk about deporting Mexicans and registering Muslims has embolden the neo-nazis and other white supremacists, who are now attacking people of color, and anyone wearing a head scarf, while shouting out Trump’s name as justification for such open hostility.
The “Ten Days After” report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, says that “we document[ed] 867 bias-related incidents in the 10 days following the presidential election. Among them: multiple reports of black children being told to ride in the back of school buses; the words “Trump Nation” and “Whites Only” being painted on a church with a large immigrant population; and an elderly gay man being pulled from his car and beaten by an assailant who said the “president says we can kill all you faggots now.””
A friend told me these attacks are now dying down. Are they? Will it all fizzle out? If not, then as people of color, we will have to figure out how to protect ourselves, and each other, from these white supremacists who believe they now have Trump’s blessing to engage in hate crimes throughout the country.
I was saddened to see some Native American people on Facebook in favor of sending Mexicans back to Mexico. We have forgotten that Mexicans (the brown skinned ones) are Indigenous to this continent and are our brothers and sisters. The only difference between us and them are the borders that the U.S. government has created.
Now that Trump is the President-elect, we need to all come together in solidarity with everyone who is now (or soon will be) under attack. That includes all people of color, the LGBT community, Muslims and people of other religions, women, refugees, Jewish people, and our white allies who see Trump and his pals for what they really are – a clear and present danger to democracy, equality and freedom.
If we allow ourselves to be divided by this new administration’s scare tactics, we will all fall. And they will try to divide us, that is how they came to power, after all. They made the brown people of Mexico, and the brown and black people of Muslim faith into “the threat”.
Trump has also pledged to get rid of Obamacare (The Affordable Care Act) which would also cut the Indian Health Improvement Act. He doesn’t believe in Climate change, is appointing oil and gas lobbyists to his cabinet and administration, and has promised to lift “roadblocks” so that oil pipelines can be completed. He also plans to increase the age for social security and would like to privatize it. And even though Trump promised to keep Medicare, his selection of Georgia Congressman Tom Price as Health and Human Services Secretary sends a clear message that Medicare will be on the chopping block in one form or another.
I think about my 83-year-old mother who lives on $14,000 a year from her social security. She has diabetes, high blood pressure, and arthritis. She has had numerous surgeries over the past five years, and the only reason she is not massively in debt – or worse, dead – is because of Medicare. She is one of millions of elderly who will lose a much needed service that is vital to their health and lives.
We will need to be very vigilant in watching what the new Trump administration will be doing in the legal and political realms, because they will have total control over the executive, judicial and legislative branches of our government. They (Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in particular) are talking about getting rid of the Senate filibuster, the same tool they used to obstruct Obama in almost everything he tried to accomplish. Their reasoning? So that Trump can do his work unobstructed. If they get rid of it, the Democrats will be powerless to stop them on almost everything they want to push through.
After the election, a friend said to me, “Each generation must fight for freedom.” Our time has now come to fight. Yes, we Indian people have been fighting for hundreds of years. And we were making progress. All of that is now in jeopardy. If we do not pay attention to what Trump will be doing over the next four years, we will find ourselves back in the 1950s, where Jim Crow-type laws and a supreme court packed with extremist Christians will have complete and total control over our lives and bodies.
I am not talking about taking up arms. We must fight with our minds and hearts, our wallets and our voices. We must get involved, we must organize, we must defend every freedom we have won over the past 50 years. We need to stand with all people who will be targeted under Trump.
So how do we fight Trump? There are a lot of ways, and we have millions of allies, private citizens and politicians, on our side. America is more progressive then it is conservative. But the first thing we must do is realize that the threat is real. “Alt-right” is just a new word for white supremacy, regardless of what the media will try to tell you. Do not listen to those who say, “everything will be ok”. The only way things are going to be ok is if we educate ourselves on what is happening politically, and if we take action when we see dangerous and discriminatory laws trying to be enacted.
We can also fight with love and compassion, we can fight by smiling at people we see on streets and in stores. We can fight by stepping in when we see Trump supporters attacking people. We can fight by not allowing them to silence us. We must not allow them to leave us standing in silence with our heads down in fear while they verbally and physically attack people around us (if that is what is in store once Trump is in office).
This is OUR COUNTRY, each and every one of us. If we don’t want Trump’s white supremacist cabinet turning us into second class citizens again, we must organize and fight. Like we have been fighting for the Missouri River in North Dakota (NoDAPL), we now must fight to keep America from being completely polluted and poisoned by hate.