Plenty of People Have Reason to be Scared
By Jyllian Roach
As I pulled the cap from the emergency bottle of vodka I hadn’t really thought we’d need on election night, I thought to myself, “How can there be this much hate in the world?”
We raised our shot glasses, someone muttered, “Fucking damn it” as a toast, and we drank.
I looked around at my loved ones and counted the targets on our backs. Some are women. Some are persons of color, or queer, or ill. The swell of fear rolled off us in waves.
There’s been talk from people who do not understand the stakes. They say this is no big deal, that it’s only four years, that we shouldn’t be sore losers. Worse, that we should come together and unite under Trump.
But this is a big deal. This isn’t just about disliking the president-elect. Trump has emboldened every person who ever wanted to say or do something cruel to someone who was different from them. Trump has made hateful acts perfectly acceptable.
Trump’s victory has told people they no longer have to consider other people. Trump’s victory has made it clear to the masses that they don’t have to pretend they’re not bigots.
This is about the health, wellness and safety of millions.
For some of us, this could be life or death.
Because 59,424,248 million Americans voted for a man who admitted to sexually assaulting women, instead of a qualified female candidate, and this puts many people in danger.
If you are a white, heterosexual, physically fit, mentally capable American man, it’s very likely you don’t have any experience with the type of fear I’m talking about. And I want you – actually, millions of us need you – to understand.
Imagine you are in a completely dark room. You have to cross from one side to the other, but you don’t know how big the room is and you don’t know where any of the furniture is. You pick your way through. Sometimes you catch a table with your knee, or find a pile of Legos with your foot. There are other things moving in the dark too, but there’s no way to tell if those things are helpful or harmful without letting them get within arm’s reach.
Now imagine that room is your life. The furniture are laws and systems designed to hold you back, and the things that move in the dark are other people who are likely to be covertly biased toward you – which is far more dangerous than outward bias.
Can you imagine the constant uncertainty, the panic? For some of us, that’s everyday life.
Let’s talk about some real-life examples, all from Nov. 9:
In Minnesota, a Black high school student’s locker was graffitied with things like “Fuck N****rs,” and “Trump Train.”
In California, a man in a Make America Great Again hat grabbed a woman’s crotch outside a store and whispered, “Are you scared now, you liberal cunt?”
In North Carolina, a gay couple found a note on their car that said, “Can’t wait for your marriage to be overturned by a real president! Gays families = burn in hell!”
There are plenty of examples in Albuquerque, as well:
Someone left a sign that said “Whites Only” outside of a pizza shop on Central.
Another person pulled the hijab off of a student who was studying at Zimmerman Library.
A truck driver intentionally crashed into a transgender woman and drove off (she’s recovering, and police have a lead on a suspect).
These are just a few of the horrible things that happened to people in a single day.
And let’s not forget about the very real dangers the president-elect himself poses. Trump will select at least one, possibly up to three, U.S. Supreme Court judges. He has the support of a Republican-controlled House and a Republican-controlled Senate.
Repealing Obamacare is almost a certainty, and, for many people living with chronic illnesses, it could mean the end of accessible treatment. Overturning Roe v. Wade is now a distinct possibility. The Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the case in which the court declared marriage a fundamental right whether you’re straight or gay, could be overturned as well.
And let’s not forget the U.S. Constitution itself. With the consent of two-thirds of both the Senate and House of Representatives and three-quarters of the states, it’s possible to repeal birthright citizenship and the right of women and minorities to vote.
These are very real threats to the lives of people you know.
Jyllian Roach is the arts and entertainment editor at ABQ Free Press Weekly. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org