Trump: Proponent and Protector of White Supremacy

Throughout his campaign leading up to the 2016 elections, the liberal public cried out about Trump's blatant tactics appealing to the bigots, racists, and white supremacists who supported him. His mainstream supporters who claimed to not be racists themselves launched into a defensive tirade that the left was quick to label people and twist facts.

When he used hateful rhetoric to incite violence, they claimed that his words were being misconstrued. When he repeatedly associated "Black" with "inner-city" and "poor", we were told he wasn't a racist (look, pictures of Trump with Black people, see!). When he continually insulted Mexicans and labeled Mexican immigrants as "killers and rapists", the right agreed that we needed to build a wall -- but that didn't mean he was racist, just trying to protect our country from "the illegals". When he launched verbal attacks against Muslims, the right jumped on board with their rapidly growing Islamophobia and even supported the idea of an unconstitutional Muslim registry stating Muslims who don't pose threats shouldn't care about their name being logged in a database. When people drew comparisons between Trump and Hitler based on Trump's emulation of Hitler's campaign strategies and speeches, they were criticized as unfair and slanderous. When concerns were raised about ties to known white supremacists, they claimed it wasn't Trump's fault people like David Duke (former KKK leader) were his fans.

Despite denigrating pretty much every group of people throughout his campaign, his supporters denied any possibility that he was in fact promoting the concept of white supremacy. Then he appointed Steve Bannon as Chief Strategist, an act David Duke lauded as an excellent decision. One that terrified the intellectual liberal community as a flagrant signal of extremism. As CEO of Trump's campaign Bannon took full credit for the "populist nationalist movement" that became a key strategic tactic. Prior to that, he was chairman of Breitbart News which he himself called "a platform for the alt-right". Yet despite Bannon's own affirmation of being an alt-right proponent, Trump claimed he disavows the alt-right movement and would never hire anyone associated with it. Except that's exactly what he did -- he hired Steve Bannon as Chief Strategist and senior advisor, and decided that this man lacking any experience in security, foreign policy, or even government in general will join the National Security Council. As if the aforementioned isn't already disconcerting, it's worth also noting that Bannon is a self-proclaimed Leninist whose goal is to "destroy the state, bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today's establishment".

Getting back to the topic of white supremacy (not that we strayed very far at all), it has been reported that Trump is working to revamp the counter-terrorism program to focus on Islamic terrorism only, removing domestic white supremacy groups as an area of concern and focus. Following on the heels of his executive orders to ban refugees and restrict entry to the U.S. for people coming in from seven predominantly Muslim countries for the sake of national security, it seems he is once again taking the position of associating Islam with terrorism. But wait, why would he explicitly remove white supremacy groups as an area of focus for a counter-terrorism group when statistics show most terror attacks in the U.S. have been carried out by people associating themselves with white supremacy, not Islam?

We have seen how the label "terrorist" seems to be difficult for people to use when the perpetrator is White, opting instead to refer to the attackers as a "lone wolf" or suicidal loner always seeming to emphasize the person's mental instability. And yet, while we are closing our borders to "make the country safer", also on the horizon is Trump's plan to soften laws around gun ownership which would enable anyone to buy a gun, including people with mental illnesses that increase their propensity for violence, paranoia, or delusion. We may have a lot more lone wolves in our future carrying out violence in the name of white supremacy and white nationalism which are growing in popularity at alarming rates, especially thanks to Donald Trump. 

Trump may publicly deny following any white supremacy ideology, unless you watch his Twitter account where he has followed and retweeted white supremacists who openly promote the theory of white genocide (the white nationalist conspiracy theory that immigration and diversity will cause the extinction of white people). It would behoove our president to disassociate himself from white supremacist individuals and organizations, but he has not, perhaps because of their supreme approval of him. One such organization is the National Alliance, which was founded by the author of the Turner Diaries (a novel that has inspired many white supremacist terror attacks), and which says Trump's presidency is a move in the right direction. Another prominent and terrifying figure in the white nationalist movement and MAGA promoter is Richard Spencer who celebrated Trump's victory with this speech

While Trump doesn't come out and say a predominantly White America is what would "Make American Great Again", his unwillingness to embrace diversity in our country is a telling indicator of his vision. He not only does not denounce hate crimes against people of color and murders of Black men by police officers, but he instead has criticized the Black Lives Matter movement for instigating crimes against police. Then he nominated Jeff Sessions as Attorney General who is against investigation into murders by police. Trump, instead of advocating for police reform, is actually pursuing militarization of the police, which raises red flags for many reasons, not the least of which is the infiltration of white supremacists within the police system.    

The list of examples is far longer than I am able to research and write about, and sadly continues to grow longer. I believe that many of the people who voted for Donald Trump sincerely believed he was being unfairly labeled as a racist, but the mounting evidence shows otherwise. Whether directly or indirectly, Donald Trump has shown himself to be a proponent and protector of White Supremacy, and he needs to be held accountable for it. 

 

 

#whitesupremacy #trump #bannon #sessions #whitesupremacists #racism #richardspencer 

Do Not Let Trump Exhaust You Into Submission

It's a wonder that journalists are able to keep up with the unconscionable volume of news produced by our president, the fragile-egoed narcissist Donald Trump, and his white supremacist chief strategist (aka puppet master) Steve Bannon. Media channels are consistently exceeding engagement goals and testing their server load limits as the public is outraged into revolt. The public's consumption of news media may be at an all time high as we question the absurdity of our new reality and the outlook for our uncertain and unnerving future.

Shortly after Trump's incomprehensible election, I wrote a piece that promoted the idea that news is important and empathy for others is critical, but you and your well-being need to be nurtured as well in order for you to keep caring. Lately, however, I'm having a hard time pulling myself away from it. Sure I go outside every day, I walk my dog and enjoy sunshine and fresh air. Most of that walk I'm either scanning the latest news feed on Twitter or texting with friends and family about the latest policy change that has us distraught. I get busy with work and have to focus on meetings and deliverables, I cook, I do chores, I even socialize sometimes, and for at least a few hours a night, I sleep -- albeit restlessly. However, with a heightened sense of fear and unease triggered by this administration, I feel there's little time throughout my day that my anxiety isn't in overdrive making it impossible to truly step away from it.  

In a torrent of news where each story is more heinous than the one before, the levels of shock, amazement, and complete exasperation begin to wear down our emotional response. Feelings of exhaustion and defeat surface as we try to pull ourselves away from the news for a healthier outlet, only to feel body slammed by the latest current event that gets our blood boiling once again. 

The positive outcome is that our anger is driving people to march and protest, it's inciting phone calls to congress petitioning for actions to protect human rights and to stand up to the unethical and unlawful policies Trump and Bannon have crafted. It's prompting solidarity across groups of people who are coming together in a unified resistance. It's creating awareness and motivating action, and one can only hope that our future generations' leaders are being inspired today to fix what is an embarrassingly broken political system.  

The negative outcome is that we're going to reach both resistance and media fatigue. It seems implausible that we can keep this momentum going for an entire presidential term. If we're so exhausted merely weeks into it, how can we keep fighting Trump on the next fascist behavior he exhibits? We're drawn to the current issue like moths to a fire and we're not paying attention to what's happening in the darkness behind us as they're working on far worse plans. Theories are circulating that perhaps this is Bannon's master plan at work to get the public riled up over measures that won't hold up in the law while he (er, they) can work on dismantling the government and our American democracy. As Jake Fuentes wrote, our resistance could be playing right into Trump's playbook. 

We cannot allow ourselves to be so hyper-focused on one issue that we ignore the rest. We must remain vigilant and conserve some of our energy for the many remaining efforts ahead. We must ensure our crowds do not dwindle in size as we keep protesting and that our voices do not waiver as we continue to speak out. We need to support each other by providing strength and encouragement to keep fighting the good fight and standing up to the administration. We must recover from the divisiveness in our social circles caused by polarizing beliefs and find ways to join forces on some common beliefs. We must not become desensitized and we have to keep spreading awareness to inspire the generosity of financial contributions, pro bono legal support, countless hours of selfless volunteer efforts, and general human compassion and kindness.

We cannot let Trump get away with tyranny. We must resist. We will not let him exhaust us into submission. 

#trump #politicalexhaustion #media #resistance

 

Corporate Responsibility Against Trump and Public Backlash Against Uber

Trump has worked harder and faster than any past president in order to achieve an abysmal 50% disapproval rating in his very first week, a feat that took the previous guys 2-3 years to achieve. The public outcry and protests across the nation and around the globe have offered some affirmation that a resistance is being enacted to fight for what's right and prevent continued unethical and unlawful actions by this president.

We the people are the best chance of shattering his fragile ego since he's so concerned about his popularity; we are the voices of this great nation and need to ensure our government officials who represent us know what we actually want and need; and we are the checks and balances to hold our government accountable for their actions. Our petitions, rallies, phone calls, letters, and social media rants are not enough. We need to make a financial impact and get backing by corporations who have greater influence in the resistance than any individual. 

Our power is not only in our voices but also our dollars, and how we use our dollars to send a strong message in support of companies that align with our values or against companies that align themselves with the questionable values of our president and his administration. Money drives our economy, lobbies our government and funds our politicians, and plays into the greed of this particular president and his cronies.  

In response to the Muslim ban, several companies quickly issued public statements speaking out against Trump and reiterating their commitment to inclusion.

Some of the companies that excelled include: 

Some of the companies that had a decent response, but we should implore them to do more:

Some of the companies that really should have done better:

In case you're wondering who to boycott then, here's a very short excerpt from a much longer shit list of companies that fund and support Trump and so far are not holding him accountable for his actions:

  • Home Depot
  • Yeungling
  • New Balance
  • NASCAR
  • Hobby Lobby
  • Jenny Craig
  • Forbes

** Uber has received massive backlash from the public and helped to escalate Lyft to the top 10 list of Apple's app store thanks entirely to how they handled (or mishandled) messaging during protests and strikes after Trump's executive order was made public. 

Years ago, feeling appalled by their slow and insufficient response to rapes committed by their unvetted drivers, I boycotted Uber until they updated their background checks and took responsibility for ensuring safety of their customers. This past weekend, dozens of my friends deleted the Uber app for a variety of reasons of which the tip of the iceberg for them was their fumbled response to Trump's policy.

I put out a call to friends to help me understand why exactly I should boycott Uber, and I wasn't given any reason that convinced me. That is not to say I think Uber could not have done better, and I will monitor them closely to ensure they as a company align with my values if I continue to remain loyal to them. In our great capitalist nation, I have choices and I will always choose to support companies that earn my trust and respect. I will be loyal to those brands who support and promote human rights and civil liberties. Uber has lost many users this week, it's up to them to hear the message loud and clear and shift their business ethics and messaging in a more positive direction.

I 100% agree Lyft is amazing for pledging $1,000,000 to the ACLU over the next 4 years but does that in itself make Uber bad? They didn't go on strike, but seeing as how the drivers are non-unionized independent contractors, should they have? They did send out messaging that they cut their prices instead of instating surge prices -- this was not well-received. Did Lyft go on strike? No. Lyft had drivers at the airports, but the backlash against Uber for doing the same is due in part to Lyft's timely public pledge in support of civil liberties. 

The most questionable issue for me is that CEO Travis Kalanick is part of Trump's advisory team (along with Elon Musk). However, he has been critical of Trump in the past and hopefully will use his position to be a voice of reason and hold him accountable. I can understand that he has to work with this administration if he wants to influence public policy around riders, drivers, and cities, I just hope he takes a moral higher ground to do so. 

Uber was slow to issue a public statement and their messaging didn't take as strong a stance on the issue, and quite frankly may have been a mitigating reaction to the #deleteuber trend. However, I don't see any evidence that they support Trump or agree with anything the imbecile is doing to our country, so therefore I won't be deleting my app at this time. Hopefully I won't regret my naiveté in giving them a pass on this one.

The folks at Lyft would be stupid not to take advantage of their perceived moral superiority to Uber, but only if they're committed to respond adequately when the next opportunity arises. In the end, they're all companies with revenue as their number one focus. I plead to these companies to earn the loyalty of the people they depend on for that revenue by taking a stronger position on important social issues. I plead to the public to hold the companies you support accountable to uphold your values. Together we can join forces to send a real message of the economic consequences of endorsement of Trump's authoritarian regime. 

#trump #corporateresponsibility #uber #deleteuber #brandconscience #brandvalues

 

2016 - Bad Years Make History

2016 has been labeled by many as one of the worst years in recent history, in large part due to the many celebrity deaths that occurred. I've always been fascinated with how emotionally impacted people are by the deaths of strangers. I realize we all mourn differently and we all have different capacities for sadness in our lives. This year, I watched a lot of people feel a very genuine grief over the deaths of these celebrities and I recognized a unifying thread across the many departed and why they mattered so much to the people around me. Many of them had been pioneers, activists, and leaders. Those who broke social norms and carved a path for a more accepting and tolerant and open society. Those who fought for women's rights, black rights, LGBT rights -- and stood resilient in the face of adversity. Historical figures who truly left their mark on our culture, our laws, and our perspective. They had overcome so many barriers, and yet still succumbed to death, in some cases unexpectedly or deemed untimely. Their legacies will still live on through their work and they will remain timeless role models and inspirations. But that's just it, isn't it? The celebrities who died -- in a way, a part of them still remains with us. What about those who never had a chance to leave their mark? What about those whose voices are yet unheard? What about those who are still fighting and and being fought? 

It most certainly was a difficult and trying year, but for so many reasons more cataclysmic than the celebrities who passed on. This year will go down in history as a turning point both in the United States and around the world as we have elected into the most powerful position a most incompetent and dangerous man. Can you imagine telling people someday that in 2016 many Americans didn't have access to clean water and politicians not only did nothing to fix the problems but they knowingly profited off what would result in deaths and illness for their constituents? In 2016, Black lives still didn't matter despite widespread attention to the injustices exposed over recent years. 2016 marked 15 years since 9/11 yet the hatred and fear of Muslims grew globally and in the United States a presidency was won on a platform that included threats against Muslims. 49 years since the Voting Rights Act and yet voter suppression based on race and gender was an openly admitted tactic of the Trump campaign. Forget domestic meddling with politics, 2016 was the year Russian hackers interfered with the elections -- and the con-man president-elect got away with it! 2016 was an awful year for the humanitarian crises around the world and at home. European governance unraveled, the global economy took a hit, global warming continued to worsen. In 2016 we saw more people lose their lives in mass shootings due to our stupidity and stubbornness about gun control. In 2016, we regressed in our social advancement through backwards state-level policymaking. In 2016, groups like ISIS, Boko Haram, and the Taliban are still waging war against communities of helpless people. Famine is still an epidemic around the world in 2016.   

2016 will turn out to be a historical turning point -- but only time will tell if we are able to re-route to a positive direction. 2016 was the year during which many people opened their eyes to the pain and suffering around them. One in which people of privilege embraced those without and joined a fight that's been going on since long before their great awakening. One in which we felt solidarity in our embarrassment and shame in our fellow citizens, the media, and our government. Perhaps with all this, we will see 2016 as the year that stoked an uprising that leads to eradicating injustice, putting policies in place to protect equal rights for all, and a series of great historical achievements. 

 

Don't Burst My Liberal Bubble.

You reached a breaking point where you could no longer take it. Your eyes have opened too wide to no longer see it. You couldn't sit back anymore and say nothing. You've found your voice and the words to use so you no longer stay quiet. You've always cared, but now you're moved by a need to take action. Thank you. Welcome to the fight against racism and bigotry. Welcome to the fight for human rights. 

I've watched you stand up and step up and speak out. I've felt my emotions waver between pride and trepidation. Pride because I see your strength and I am moved by it. Trepidation because I'm starting to realize we've traded places, you and me. There's been a shift in our roles and the past few weeks have opened my eyes to something about myself I hadn't been aware of.  

Being vocal and opinionated is part of who I am and speaking out on critical social issues is not something I shy away from within my personal network on social media. On rare occasions, I'm met with dissent or counterarguments, but mostly people either agree with me or respectfully ignore me altogether. Either way, I still reach a lot of people when I share information in effort to push my liberal agenda of human rights and civil liberties for everyone. My reach is not substantial by millennial standards, but thanks to my at-least-tolerable personality and nomadic lifestyle that's allowed me to live and travel all over the world, I have a great group of diverse friends. Still, I'm pretty particular about what kind of people I let into my life. As I grow older, I'm less inclined to keep toxic people around who create negative energy. Naturally, my friends tend to be...kind of like me. Open-minded, adventurous, educated, hard-working, creative, kind, good, tolerant, considerate. My friends also include people of many religions (or none), different sexual orientations and gender identities, different races and ethnicities, different socio-economic statuses, different nationalities, different ages. The commonality across my network of friends is they're mostly all pretty nice people.    

That's not to say they all share the same liberal views I have. Many of them don't. Most of the people who don't share my political views also don't share my loud-and-in-your-face personality, either. They silently ignore my posts with which they disagree, and they continue to like the travel photos that I post. There are also many friends about whom I'll never know their political stance because for them it's just a private part of their life they have no intention of sharing with acquaintances on Facebook. That's cool -- their choice. They stay away from engaging with any post that would expose their position -- but I like to think maybe they're still reading my posts and privately taking away a message.

Recently, I've realized how safe a space my social media world is that I can spout off about my views and not risk alienating people I truly care about. My real life is pretty liberal too which came to light when I visited family who live deep in Trump country just before the elections and realized I'd never seen a Trump/Pence sign in person before because there are so few conservatives around where I live. I don't live in a red state. I don't work for a Trump-supporting employer. I have no fear of repercussions in my neighborhood, my workplace, or in my family because of my political opinions. The only family member I have who supports Trump is someone with whom I have only minimal interaction once or twice a year at most because I simply do not like him and don't see eye to eye with him on anything, let alone politics.   

I live in a liberal bubble and I have a completely safe space to be myself and express my views.  

All around me, I see people struggling with commentary from their conservative family and friends who are criticizing them for protesting, dismissing racism and misogyny, and telling them they're over-reacting and to "get over it". Other people around me have to come to terms with the racist and hateful people in their lives who are vocal and pushing back and making them feel horrible. As I watch my friends taking the role of not just an ally but a defender, and taking a stronger stance against the vocal bigots in their lives, I'm realizing they've graciously pushed me out of the way and stepped up to the front lines while I'm safely in my bubble preaching to the choir.  

I've had friends who are unable to reconcile how their parents or siblings can see the world so differently than them. I've seen several people post in Pantsuit Nation about marriages being tested through opposing viewpoints. I've seen multiple friends unfriend or be unfriended on Facebook due to an inability to find enough common ground to outweigh the moral differences with the bigoted people in their lives.   

Over the years, I've only had to unfriend one person because of his racism and inappropriate comments. Although he was someone I'd known since my early childhood, I felt no guilt about unfriending him since I had little respect for him in the first place. His illogical arguments coupled with having nothing better to do than troll liberals made him a toxic presence I didn't need in my life. I was recently blocked by a bigot I once dated. No loss to me, he wasn't someone worth keeping in my life anyway and he's not someone who would ever change his views because he lacks the intellect or empathy to look beyond his blinders. Other friends with little regard for civil liberties have been unfollowed, although not unfriended. I can choose when I visit their timeline and engage with photos of their children, and I can otherwise avoid having their anti-BLM, anti-muslim, and pro-Breitbart posts show in my newsfeed. 

So yeah, I find myself in a liberal bubble and I am coming to terms with the fact that most of the people who are defending marginalized people like me are doing it bravely from outside that bubble. They're not in a safe space where their views are welcome. They're not surrounded by open-minded, tolerant, intellectuals who share their values. They're fighting off the bigots and the racists and the misogynists in their lives and they are doing it despite knowing they're losing relationships they may have once cherished.  

I've had several friends reach out and ask me how to cope with intolerant family members and the damages to their relationships over opposing viewpoints. I find myself at a loss and unable to offer any useful advice because my experience of debating with people I love has been so limited. My heart hurts for them and I am sorry for the anguish felt by anyone finding themselves in that position. As I watch other people raise their voices and take a stand against bigotry despite what they stand to lose, I realize how lucky I have been to live in my liberal bubble. And I will unapologetically continue to surround myself with people whose brains and hearts function like mine, but that's not a choice everyone is able to make. It's easy for me to reconcile letting go of someone whose ideology is rooted in oppression of civil liberties for others. It's not even a question in my mind -- but that's because I don't have to choose between my morals and someone I love. 

#liberalbubble #safespace #beingvocal #humanrights #speakingout

 

The Con Man Who Trolled Everyone.

With past presidencies, people typically knew what to expect. The left knew a GOP president would cut funding to public programs to increase spending on military and defense (but not veteran assistance). The right knew the democratic president would sign into law more programs that benefited the very people who weren't capable of contributing back to the system that funds the programs they use. The left knew the GOP president would appeal to the corporations and the loudest deep-pocketed lobbyists. The right knew the democratic president would use federal power to force states and small businesses to be more inclusive against their own beliefs. 

With the looming Trump presidency, neither side can predict what our nation's greatest con man will do. He has shown us he is erratic, easily provokable, and tantrum-prone. He's shown us he will appeal to the lowest scum of the earth and use hate and bigotry as fuel to spread support. Still, there are those who are willing to look past his actions during his campaign with hopes that he might show a more moderate and reasonable temperament as president. 

His very first week as president-elect has provided no reassurances that he will not tear this country apart or that he won't destroy people's lives in the process. Donald Trump is a man who has no convictions of his own. His entire platform was based on rhetoric he knew would resonate with a large mass of voters. Yes, he's a racist. Yes, he's a misogynist. Yes, he's a greedy and unethical businessman. However, I don't believe he personally cares about immigration policies or abortion. He doesn't care about any policy that doesn't affect him personally. Perhaps affordable healthcare is one that comes at a cost to his corporations. He doesn't care about the role of government in people's lives, only business. I certainly doubt he's going to try to change the tax loophole that's allowed him to not pay taxes for 18 years, even though he accused Hillary Clinton of being part of the government that allowed him to get away with it. This man has no convictions of his own. He simply wants power, and to repay the groups who secured his election win, he's willing to share that power with other dangerous men who happen to have very strong convictions -- ones which go against human rights. 

Trump's hiring of Steve Bannon for Chief Strategist gives power to the racist white supremacists who voted him into office. David Duke of the KKK is thrilled with this choice, unsurprisingly. Trump's consideration of Rudy Giuliani for any of several cabinet positions is appalling -- but not in any way shocking. A man with multiple conflicts of interest in foreign countries and not an ounce of diplomacy or tact, Giuliani is no better equipped to work with foreign affairs than Donald Trump himself. Not to mention -- he's incredibly racist. Seems to be a recurring theme in the people Trump is surrounding himself with. Speaking of his posse, given the absurdity of the entire election and the choices he's making for his cabinet, it's not entirely improbable that Trump requested top secret clearance for his kids and son-in-law so they can be briefed along with him as some sources have reported. The man has no interest in doing the president's job, he simply wanted the president's title and power. Now that he got his tiny little hands on the presidency, his supporters might be just as disappointed as his opposers with what he does with it.   

How do the affordable healthcare opposers feel now that the candidate they voted for based on his campaign promise to repeal and replace it altogether it has indicated he won't be taking steps to repeal the affordable healthcare act? 

How are the "build a wall" proponents feeling now that his plans have proven far less substantial than promised? 

And those who have stood firmly against gay marriage and believed their candidate's recent position was the same as theirs, how do they feel now that he's saying he won't repeal that either? 

Or the racist bigots who are being told by Trump himself to "stop it" with the hate crimes, do they feel betrayed and unfairly scolded by the man who was validating and inciting them for the past two years? 

I wonder how the people who were somehow convinced he's not racist or misogynistic (or that felt the fact that he is racist and misogynistic won't impact policies) feel now that he's appointed an openly anti-semitic white supremacist wife abuser as his chief strategist? 

What about the anti-establishment voters, are they feeling lied to now that they're seeing that he's staffed his team with political insiders and lobbyists despite campaigning against this very thing? 

I am curious how the people who knew he was incompetent but hoped he'd surround himself with smart people feel now that he's chosen staff members whose qualifications point to politics built on power and intimidation rather than experience and skills. 

Donald Trump is no one's president. He is a con man who trolled everyone, and in the end, he will simply make choices that benefit his personal gain. He is a man of no convictions other than a desire for power and the money that comes with it.  

#trump #conman #notmypresident

Racism - pre-9/11, post-9/11, and since Trump.

While walking my dog yesterday, a man I often make small talk with at the park made the following statement with a tone of consolatory reassurance: 

"Well, it's been three days and Trump hasn't ended the world yet." 

I let him know that while that may be true, the daily lives of many Americans have changed thanks to the increase in violent attacks, threats, and racist slurs. I reminded him that the world did not end with 9/11 but it changed forever, and the immediate aftermath was for some of us a very scary and hurtful time. The sad truth is, Trump's America will be a scarier place than post-9/11 America was.

Racism is something I've experienced to some degree my entire life as a person of color, but it was different before 9/11 and since then. Today, I think it's evolving again. My analysis of racism in America is as it pertains to my personal experience as a brown asian woman -- and I do not purport to speak on behalf of others. I fully acknowledge that racism is different across all groups, and often experienced differently by men and women of the same groups. 

As an immigrant child growing up in the U.S. in the 80s, my experience was based on exclusion and ignorance. People had no idea where my native country was -- "Afghanistan, is that in Africa?" As a young girl during ages when one's self-image is so fragile, I had no role models in the media who were women of color like me, so I felt a sense of shame and self-criticism for not being anything like the white models and actors I would see on TV or in magazines. I would get made fun of by my peers for my dark skin, prominent nose, dark curly hair. Bullies would call me a foreigner, but they weren't bullying me because I was a foreigner -- they were bullying me because they were assholes and I was just another target. I would be made fun of by my peers for speaking a different language at home, eating different food than they do, having a different culture and traditions to follow. I lived in the DC area, however, so being a minority was not uncommon. With each year, diversity increased and with it grew an understanding of other cultures. People asked questions about my ethnicity, usually by making assumptions. "Are you from India? You look indian." "You must be muslim." "You're not asian, you look middle eastern." Or they'd ask stupid presumptuous questions upon initial interaction. "Do you speak english?" "How come you don't speak with an accent?"   

None of this was comfortable but it certainly wasn't threatening. It was racial prejudice based in ignorance and I like to think I helped shape some people's knowledge and experience even just a little bit. 

9/11 left us grieving and fearing like no other event in recent modern history. On that dreadful day, I was huddled with coworkers in tears and solidarity as we watched the attacks happening. That night, I was huddled with friends glued to the news watching how our nation prepared to respond -- and the first step included American forces in Afghanistan beginning what has been the longest American war in history. 

The aftermath of 9/11 included a new type of racism I had never experienced before -- one that was based in fear. This racism was one that left me uncertain how to change perceptions. 

My mother received death threats because she owned an Afghan restaurant. She had protection thanks to unconstitutional monitoring from the FBI. I had people shout "taliban!" or "terrorist!" at me. I was on an elevator with my laptop and notepad going up to a client meeting when the doors opened a few floors before my destination and a man and woman were waiting to come onto the elevator -- the man saw me and stopped, the woman questioned him, and he responded while looking right at me with "I don't know if she's got a bomb or something, I'm not getting on the elevator." I could give more examples but you get the idea. 

Today's racism is based purely on hate and an actual belief in white superiority. Trump's success in the 2016 election was secured in part due to his appeal to the racist bigots who want to "Make America White Again". In Trump's America, my 10 year old cousin has already been called a terrorist and told to "go home". Women in hijab have been attacked and threatened. A teacher was told to hang herself with her headscarf. A teacher stood by doing nothing while students chanted "build a wall" to their hispanic/latino peers. Another teacher himself told students their parents would be deported. A black woman was told by a white man that soon it would be legal for him to own her again. Hindi students were shoved off a bus. Graffiti has marked cities across the nation with swastikas and racist threats. It doesn't end. There are literally tens of thousands of similar stories from just the past few days.

So yeah, Trump hasn't ended the world yet. However, he has fueled hatred and validated openly racist behavior without remorse. He has made this nation more unsafe. It feels like the end of the world as we know it, and I'm afraid of what's still to come. With the definitive shift from ignorance to fear to hate, I feel lost and hopeless about how to overcome racism. As a brown American, I can provide context, I can try to quell fear, but I have no idea how to stop hate. 

#brownamerican #racism #prejudice #since911

 

Turn Off the News, Take Time to Step Away and Breathe, Then Come Back

On an average day, I spend at least a couple hours consuming news media. I read articles from the news sources I follow on Facebook, I scan Twitter, I occasionally watch the news on TV, and when possible, I listen to NPR. This habit was formed early in my life because I grew up in a household where current events happening locally and globally were always more important than pop culture. The habit continued when it became a requirement in journalism school -- it was already natural for me. The habit was even easier when social media changed how I accessed news from having to seek it to now being delivered to me as it happened. During times of tragedy or major events, my news consumption easily increases to several hours in a day at sacrifice of sleep and time spent on soul-lifting activities. 

Over the past couple years as media coverage of police brutality against black men has increased thanks to cell phone videos and social media sharing, I have found myself watching disturbing videos that left me crying and hurting and feeling helplessly anguished during my workdays -- at risk to my job performance and emotional health. Still I watch and still I share because it is important to let it affect us all until we are able to stop it from affecting anyone. Leading up to the 2016 election and since then, I can barely pull myself away from the news despite the intense negative emotions that come along with what I'm reading. Bubbling up are feelings of fear and anger and hurt as dialogue takes place with people who are dismissive of the dangers of a Trump presidency for non-privileged groups. Thankfully, through social media solidarity, I am able to balance the negativity with feelings of love and gratefulness and pride as I see friends and strangers come together to show their concern and support for each other. 

It's very easy to drown ourselves in the news and feel dejected and hopeless about the state of the world because we allowed ourselves to read user comments from ignorant and hateful strangers. It's such a quick path down all the rabbit holes we can fall into when trying to learn about what's going on around us, particularly if it's new and unfamiliar, and our empathy forces us to immerse ourselves in all that we can find. It's understandable that we absorb the energy from social media and the news into our personal lives, letting it affect our well-being and outlook.

I will always consume news media and I will always share it with others without apology. However, I do recognize the need to take a break when feeling fragile and overwhelmed. With how much stimulation we have constant access to through media on our phone, on our computers, on the TV, on the radio -- sometimes it's good to unplug and recharge. I encourage people to work a break into every day for at least an hour or two if you can. Take a walk. Get out in nature. Have a nice meal with friends and share laughs over old memories. Enjoy a bubble bath and take a nap. I'm not suggesting you shut out the news and isolate yourself from what's happening in the world altogether. But give yourself a break from time to time and allow yourself to recharge. When your tears have dried up and your heart is feeling stronger, and your mind has been cleared from all the ugliness, come back. The news will still be there for your consumption and there will always be more for you to learn. The news is important and empathy for others is critical, but you and your well-being need to be nurtured as well in order for you to keep caring. 

What Privileged People Need to Understand About Trump's Threats

At initial glance, this felt like one of the truest statements made about the 2016 election. Somewhat back-handed, it is directed at the privileged people who voted for Donald Trump because he doesn't threaten their human rights. No one should accept his racism or his many other unforgivable qualities, but it is to some extent understandable that privilege makes it difficult to see or understand the gravity of his words and actions. There are so many types of privilege at play here, predominantly the following:  

Male privilege. This could make it understandable how one could overlook sexual assault and misogyny against women. Men do not feel threatened on a daily basis because of their gender, so perhaps it's difficult to see how policies that take away a woman's choice over her own body or a legal system that doesn't protect women against rape and assault are serious concerns under Trump's presidency. It's not the first thing to come to mind for someone who is not personally affected. 

White privilege. This could make it understandable how one could not take seriously the threats against minorities and immigrants. White people haven't experienced racism so perhaps it's difficult to see how social policies designed to suppress others based on race are a real thing and will become more probable under Trump's presidency. Most white voters probably didn't even realize or think about this possibility because it's never been something they've needed to be aware of themselves.  

Socio-economic privilege. This could make it understandable how someone could not fear the impact of economic destruction and the repeal of affordable healthcare. If you've never had to worry about earning enough money to keep a roof over your head, if you've never had to weigh the cost of medical treatment against the effects of prolonged suffering, if you've never had to be thankful for social programs that allow your child to eat lunch at school because you can't afford to feed them -- it makes sense you wouldn't be able to see the financial fears people have about Trump's presidency.  

Heterosexual privilege. This could make it understandable how someone could not fear the impact of policy changes that will not cause any change in daily life for heterosexual people. Meanwhile, my trans friends are concerned with legality of their name changes and access to healthcare. My gay friends are concerned with the recognition of their marriage. My queer friends across the spectrum are concerned with threats of violence or discrimination in the workplace or with housing. Someone who is straight and doesn't personally know any LGBT people may not realize how much Trump's presidency threatens to change. 

Seriously though, despite privilege, you should be capable of seeing what a dangerous president Trump will be. 

It does not require having a penis to understand that a president needs to not be hateful and violent toward women. Plenty of men voted and continue to petition against Trump because although they are male, they have women in their lives they respect and love. Plenty of men without a specific woman in their life whom they feel the need to protect are just plain capable of seeing men and women as equals and care about human rights. 

Being white is not an excuse either. One doesn't have to be threatened personally to understand a threat against another human being is just plain wrong. You can be white and still be abhorred by the violence Trump encouraged against black people at his rallies. You don't even have to personally know any illegal Mexican immigrants to know they're not all "rapists and criminals". You don't see racism with your skin color, you see it with your eyes. You know it with your brain. And yes, regardless of your own race, you can feel it in your heart when your fellow humans are being attacked and threatened. 

Wealthy individuals may benefit from paying less in taxes and may not be personally concerned with affordable healthcare or the volatile changes to real estate and global economy, but any individual with half a brain should understand the long-lasting impact an economic downturn has not only on our nation of 325 or so million people but also across the world. No one should want the economy destroyed, even rich folks.  

You can be straight and still understand that roughly 9 million people are not and they deserve the same rights you have -- for marriage, housing, employment, financial loans, adoption, healthcare, use of public restrooms, freedom from violence, etc. 

Still, perhaps people of privilege can be excused for their ignorance, but what about the Trump voters who fall into into the many non-privileged groups his campaign has promised to harm?  

By far, the data I've found most incomprehensible is the statistical breakdown of actual Trump voters that exposes how many women and minorities voted for him. It would make sense perhaps if women and people of color voted for him because they fell into the third category of privilege I listed above - that of a higher socio-economic class. However, media reports show that many of them are poor and struggling -- hopeful for some sort of change. Could they feel so far removed from personal impact of his platform that they don't feel a threat? Could they be so un-educated that they can't understand the change they need is not the one they'll get? 

According to exit polls published on NY Times  42% of women voted for Trump. They voted for a man who bragged about being a sexual predator and who has disrespected women countless times and is facing charges for raping a 13 year old girl. It is unbelievable to me that any woman would throw her morals aside to cast a vote for him. He also garnered support from people of color who voted for him -- 8% of black voters, 29% of hispanic/latino voters, 29% of asian voters, and 37% of voters who identified as "other" did too. While exit polls are not accurately representative of nationwide statistics, these numbers are far greater than I'd expect for a man who has openly insulted blacks, hispanics/latinos, and asians throughout his campaigns. 5% of people who identify as LGBT voted for Trump!! This is a man whose campaign stands against many policies protecting the rights of the LGBT population, how can any LGBT person be okay with what this means for their community? An overwhelming number of people voted for Trump simply because they felt a needed change. Change is coming, and I hope the people who voted for him understand they are responsible for the damages these changes will bring. 

Lastly, it's important to note that nearly 47% of the U.S. population eligible to vote -- didn't. At all. They simply chose not to vote in our modern history's most critical election. These people are equally implicated in whatever may come as a result of their inaction. These people are just as responsible for electing a racist, misogynistic, and homophobic president who will cause great harm to so many people.   

A racist president will not protect people of color from being relegated to second-class citizenship, he will not protect us from violent attacks from the racist America he has revived, he will not protect us from discrimination in the workplace / housing market / financial institutions, and he most certainly will not protect American citizens of color and their families from the effects of deportation and immigration policy changes that were the foundation of his racist platform.   

A misogynist president will not protect women's rights to their own reproductive system, their healthcare access, their equal pay, or their rights to justice after assault. 

A homophobic president will not protect the rights to healthcare for trans people, the right to marriage for gay people, the right to live and work without discrimination and threats of violence. 

Circling back to the concept of privilege and how it plays a role in how people voted. My Trump-supporting friends stated they're not racist (and they don't believe Trump is racist) but that they voted for Trump based on policy. What their privilege prevents them from understanding is why racism matters in policy making. And while the quote at the top of this post is about racism, the election of Trump as our president will result in policies that have far wider impact across many groups of non-privileged people. This is something that people of privilege need to understand and acknowledge, and need to help prevent now that Trump is our president elect.  

#privilege #trump

Thank you, POC allies

Y'all know me as a vocal woman who regularly speaks out against racial and social injustices, and I thank you for the time you take to read my words or hear me out or engage me in private discussions. I thank you for understanding my need to speak out. I can't help it. My life-long activist mother raised me to stand up for what I believe in, to always try to raise awareness, and to try to help impact change through example and dialogue. So I try. Sometimes I even succeed and that makes it all worth it. Regardless, it's a fight I'll never give up on because I don't know how. I've been doing it my entire life.

I thank you for checking in on me and giving me your love and support. I appreciate so much all the messages that pour in from you to let me know you've got my back. It's still a relatively new feeling for people of color to have allies who 1) get it, 2) give a shit, 3) join the fight. And so I thank you. And I want you to know I know it's not easy.

While some of us have been doing this our entire lives because we've had to -- it's treading new waters for many of our allies who are finding themselves speaking out against family members and friends. I have been overwhelmed with pride seeing how many allies I have who are raising their voice against racism and civil injustice. I am fully aware and understand the struggles you face and the emotional exhaustion you're feeling. There is nothing easy about the confrontations you're having, the repetitive conversations you're having with people who aren't listening, and the criticism and insults you're absorbing as you're working to shield others from the hateful words of people you love.

It fucking sucks. I am so sorry. I completely understand when you want to just shut down and stay silent to avoid the pain and frustration that comes with speaking out. I want you to know I am so grateful and appreciate every bit of effort no matter how small you think it is -- the truth is, they are listening to you more than they have ever listened to us. We need you, allies. We need your strength. We need your solidarity. We will only be able to impact change by joining together. It won't be easy, but I thank you for joining the fight. Thank you for being you.

#pocallies #thankful #solidarity

Dear Trump Supporting Friends

Like most of my friends and family, election night and the following days I found myself in tears trying to process the ugly reality that is unfolding not only for our nation but the world. I am angry at myself for feeling optimistic the past few weeks despite my long-held belief that America has not yet overcome its racism, misogyny, and blatant stupidity enough to make the right choice. I am somewhat consoled that by the numbers, more people voted for progressiveness. and yet by the system which we uphold as a critical part of our democratic foundation, we enabled the election of an unqualified and dangerous demagogue as our next president. We are flawed. This is far from the change we needed.

I have very few friends who voted for Trump, and because I believe in democracy, I respect their right to do so despite my feelings about their choice or their personal values. I have known since long before this election that some of these friends are racist even though they cannot see that in themselves. I have chosen not to engage in discussions with them about politics or pretty much anything of any moral substance. I will continue to silently judge them for their support of a man who has openly been cruel to so many groups of people including me and people I love and including people I don't even know but care about because I have a heart. I will never excuse these friends for overlooking the immorality of a man who incited violence and exploited hatred with zero regard for humanity. There is nothing I can think of that can justify consciously choosing a man who sexually assaults women and young girls.

Sick of hearing people complain about the election results? It must be that you've never experienced racism and been the recipient of hatred. Lucky you. Think I'm being unreasonable and overreacting? Convince me please that I don't need to fear for the safety of my family. Show me if you can that my already marginalized friends will not see setbacks in their civil liberties. Reassure me that our economy will not be destroyed. Please promise our country will be safe from terrorist attacks. Maybe then I can stop worrying and lamenting the grave mistake we have made with this election. Until you can dissuade the fears, please understand that your gloating only sets us apart further because you've pledged your allegiance to a man whose vision of a great America is one without me in it.

#trump #trumpsupporters

State of a Broken Nation

Our race relations are at an all-time low point in recent history. Our media profits from inciting hatred and fear. Our lackluster education system produces feeble minds which are easily brainwashed. Our law enforcement operates without proper training and accountability. Our government is corrupt and in disrepair. Our lives are in the hands of unregulated gun owners who all believe they are the good guy and their motives are justified. Our upcoming elections do not give hope to a promising future. Our nation is in great need of healing and reform. We are spiraling out of control. We desperately need change.

If Not Now, When??

When will things change? Every day more heartache over lives lost at the hands of murderous police sanctioned by the racism and corruption that's insidiously growing across this country. This can't keep happening.

#blacklivesmatter

Good Behavior Is Not Real

During my childhood, I felt let down by the criminal justice system when they released a man from his prison sentence for "good behavior". Of course, they didn't have young girls in prison for him to exhibit his bad behavior. I feel let down again knowing that Brock Turner's already-too-short sentence will be cut down to 3 months. How is our consistently flawed justice system protecting the public and upholding its duty to mitigate crime by letting this man serve only 3 months?

This injustice feeds into the misogynistic and violent belief that a man violating a woman is no big deal, especially when he's a privileged young white guy. It perpetuates the stigma that the victim is at fault and that because she was drunk, he committed no crime.

I feel anguish for all the survivors who have been let down by a system that showed leniency to predatory behavior. I feel so much agony and empathy for the victims who will be too afraid to come forward because they feel hopeless that justice will be served. This is not only disappointing, it is downright scary. Our justice system is sending across a dangerous message with this case that sexual violence is okay. Considering the statistics on sexual violence, I imagine this case has been a trigger for many people I know. I am grateful for the number of posts I'm seeing from outraged people who seem to understand the simple concept of consent.

 

#brockturner #sexualassault #nojustice

Thankful

The news around the world and the GOP's lack of compassion for humanity is hitting home a lot for me lately. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I've been reflecting on some things I'm thankful for in my own life without which I would be a very different person than I am.

  • Refugee entry into Switzerland when I was an infant escaping what has now been nearly 4 decades of war in Afghanistan
  • Immigration to the U.S. when I was a child to build a life in the "land of opportunity"
  • The social welfare system for all its programs that sustained my childhood when we needed it
  • A mother who worked tirelessly to put a roof over my head and managed to pull us up into the middle class 
  • An education complete with a few hero teachers and counselors who kept me looking ahead
  • Access to healthcare, as stupidly complex and expensive as it often is
  • Loving, caring, and thoughtful friends that have been my support system throughout my life
  • Freedom to be a strong independent woman and the right to speak my mind, love whom I want, and believe in any faith I choose
  • I am thankful. I am lucky. And I am thinking of all the people at home and around the world in need and hope someday they can feel thankful and lucky too.

‪#‎iamarefugee‬   ‪#‎thankful‬   ‪#‎refugeeswelcome‬