Here We Are Again: A Trump Inaugaration

My scrapbook from the 2004 March for Women's Lives. Please forgive the captions. I was a baby.

My scrapbook from the 2004 March for Women's Lives. Please forgive the captions. I was a baby.

On the morning after the election, it was my job to get about 50 international college-aged students to a local bowling alley for our field trip. I woke up that morning certain the world had righted itself in the middle of the night. I mean, they had to make it seem much closer than it was to keep the ratings up, right?  

Most students asked me and the teachers what we thought this meant. They're young and still figuring out the world, and they wanted to know if we thought this would be as bad as it seemed. If they went home to see their families for break, would they not be able to enter the country in January to study? 

A young Saudi mother asked me if she should be worried for her toddler son in daycare. Not for the workers, she said, I know they love my son. But what about the parents? What if they think the way Trump thinks and see me in a hijab?

I think about this woman a lot now. She woke up to an America that made explicit its fear and hatred of her and her very young son. She heard the message. So my shock is not that an America exists in which she is distrusted or outright hated because of her faith, but that this America roared up from the fringes back into the mainstream. That what has been done can so easily be undone.

I don't believe that all Trump supporters are evil. Or even that they're all racist. From what I hear, mostly from the sons and daughters of parents who voted for Trump, they believe they're doing the right thing. But I wish they could see the visceral damage their choice will do in our everyday lives. Trump's policies will make it more difficult for my students to get visas to study in the US, which will drain millions of dollars from an already depleted public education systems. Access to basic reproductive healthcare is the reason I did not have a child early and got to pursue my education. Without insurance, I got that care at Planned Parenthood. Continued militarization of police and our war on drugs pit young black men against police, with the young men always losing. 

These are the very real and dangerous consequences the majority of Americans have faced. Trump supporters may have felt alienated and unheard, but they did not fear for the physical safety of themselves and the people they love.

Zadie Smith wrote this wonderful article responding to the criticism that multiculturalism has failed us. Her response: that what we call multiculturalism, for her, is just real life. I have been so lucky. Early in my life, I was thrust into situations in which my whiteness made me the minority. My neighborhoods and friendships have been populated with a rainbow coalition of nationalities. I have been so lucky, and I wish people who now celebrate what Trump stands for had had my luck, because it is much more difficult to deny the humanity of a person standing in front of you. 

Back in 2004, I took a bus to Washington to march with 500 to 800 thousand other people because we feared another Bush presidency would further erode our autonomy over our bodies. I met people there in their 60s and 70s, exasperated but energized, here we are again. I feel like that now. I have a massive deadline looming today, but at 1:00 I'll be heading into the streets of New Orleans, so my body is counted as 1 among millions standing against the oppression of others to maintain the comfort of a few. Here we are again. The rhetoric of the fringes beating drums now comfortably in the mainstream. I don't know what happens now, but I do know the more of us that stand up to protect each other, the harder it is to push us aside. 

JamieComment