I Am Not Scared And You Shouldn’t Be Either

November 28th, 2016 | Categories: Uncategorized

I resigned myself after the election to hope that Trump’s bite was not as bad as  his bite. I became, for a brief time, one of the many voices saying that we don’t know what he will do for sure until he does it, mostly because I couldn’t fathom what he could do; I didn’t want to. I told people, “It will be fine.”

Within a week of the election, I knew this wasn’t making anyone, myself included, feel any better. The tipping point is when I said, “You will be okay” to one of my former students, a minority and poor. His desperation was palpable in the deep sigh he gave after my attempt at moral support. A sigh that said, “Et tu, Brute?”

The sigh followed me for a week. No longer saying the trite response, I started to think more. I saw the posts on facebook about the safety pins to show support for and solidarity with those from communities targeted by Trump’s stereotypes who feel unsafe. The first few times I thought it was a lovely gesture, a more sincere, realistic, and comforting one than my previous hackneyed attempt to console the targets of Trump’s stereotypes.

Quickly, though, I changed my mind. The safety pins were fine for some folks, but I live in Manhattan in New York City. We voted overwhelmingly for Clinton (about 88%). Why wouldn’t I just wear a rainbow ribbon to show pride and support? Why would I need to be so clandestine as to wear a safety pin?

rainbow-ribbon

So, I started wearing a rainbow ribbon pin. And, admittedly, part of me was a little scared. A small part, but a part nonetheless. I keep wearing my rainbow ribbon but from that initial brief period of fear I realized viscerally why the trite, “It will be okay” comments aren’t cutting it.

If I wasn’t wearing the rainbow pin I could ‘pass’ as a white heterosexual, groups not directly targeted by Trump. I could even where a safety pin and many of those who might harbor ill feelings towards those in the LGBTQ community might not even know what it means. In either case, it would be easy for me to say “It will be okay” because I wouldn’t be a target of a hate crime or systemic prejudice. Things WILL likely be okay for me.

So what moral did I learn?

For those of you who can pass as straight or white (regardless of whether you really are), if you want to show support for communities targeted by Trump’s stereotypes, you have to stop passing. Instead, out yourself as a supporter of one or more marginalized groups. Wear your support proudly. Display your support ostentatiously.

Why?

Because if everything “will be okay” and “everything is fine” then you have nothing to fear. And if you are someone who can ‘pass’ as a white heterosexual, someone who wants to support groups targeted by Trump’s stereotypes, but are scared to wear a Black Lives Matter pin, then stop saying “everything will be okay.”

black-lives-matter-button-225

As for me…

Well, I stand by my optimism and hope. I do think things will be okay. And to prove it you will see me proudly wear my rainbow ribbon, my Black Lives Matter pin, my pro-immigrant button, and my feminist mantras whenever I get the chance. Oh, and I voluntarily submitted my own name to the Liberal Professors Watchlist and look forward to them adding me to that list of esteemed professionals.

I am doing these things so I can’t pass (as easily) as privileged anymore, so I can feel a little bit of that fear that others who can’t ‘pass’ will spend the next four years feeling, and because ultimately I think these hate mongers, like Trump himself, are impotent and full of hot air. I am not scared of any of them and you shouldn’t be either.

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