By Hannah Brandt
Only six weeks into the Trump administration we are trapped in a culture of fear. If you are a woman, an immigrant, a person of color, a member of the LGBTQ community, a person living in poverty, or all of the above, you are probably in a constant state of anxiety about your immediate safety. If you’re like me you already were before November 8, 2016.
As horrible as Donald Trump and the rest of his administration are, much of the infrastructure for the awful proposals and policies was already in place. The mass deportations (reportedly 700 people in only a month) have been possible because of practices already in place under presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush. Each deported more than 2 million people, totaling close to five million in their collective 16 years. As people of conscience, we must do everything we can to reverse these policies and ensure that this is not possible in the future. That people who are political, religious and economic refugees, innocent of any real crimes live in terror is unacceptable.
Likewise, Trump’s despicable Muslim Ban (aka Travel Ban) is the most blatant example of xenophobia in my lifetime, but it would not have been so quickly implemented if not for existing measures to profile people presumed to be Muslim. After 9/11, former New York City mayor (and Trump crony) Rudy Giuliani created a list to track people with Muslim sounding names residing in the city, a policy that only ended in 2011. His successor also continued it as long as he could. Similarly, the Obama administration had flagged for possible scrutiny all travelers from the seven majority Muslim countries Trump has targeted for the travel ban. Obama never implemented any such policy, but this made it easier for Trump to do so once he was in office.
For years, Far Right Republicans have been working to undermine rights gained by generations of women: trying to defund Planned Parenthood, overturn the Marital Rape Law of 1993, revoke Title IX protections for female students, and other steps toward equality. The same is true of the vicious GOP targeting of LGBTQ individuals through discriminatory state laws now getting traction on a federal level in the Trump-Pence administration. It is truly the worst-case scenario to have so many seats in Congress move from Democrats to Tea Party Republicans, at the same moment an openly xenophobic, racist, misogynistic president resides in the Oval Office.
Many of my friends are particularly upset about the state of education after the confirmation of Betsy DeVos. This is completely understandable given her record in Michigan of working to dismantle public education and push through unregulated religious and charter schools. The frustration I have is that many people I know were supporters of charter schools who often vilified public schools until this very moment. The erosion of public schools through privatization has been happening for years, first under George W. Bush and expanding under President Obama. Like Trump, DeVos is the problem on steroids.
Earlier this week, I listened to Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez, and Tamika Mallory, the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington D.C. speak about the resistance and next steps. One of the subjects they were asked about was the huge turn out and participation of white women in the march who had clearly not been involved in any previous protests, such as any against police brutality, anti-immigrant policies, war or poverty.
To paraphrase they said, “Yeah, it’s frustrating. But we’re glad you’re here now. As long as you are here for all of us. This cannot only be about your own struggles as white women but those of women of color, people of color, transgender people, the undocumented. Because we’re here for all of it.”
Moderator Melissa Harris-Perry asked what they all thought about the concept of activists engaging in ‘self-care.’ When asked about it herself Perry said she thought it was bunk. She said she believes in ‘squad care,’ that we must take care of each other, not have to take care of ourselves alone.
As someone who was having a rough time personally before the reality of a Trump presidency, I agree. Isolation and hopelessness are the enemies. We need to support each other to stay strong. We’re on a roll as a squad now and let’s not slow down.
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