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