Why We March
Donald Trump won, and it really fucking sucks. You’re probably pretty upset right now, and you should be—his plan for his first 100 days in office provides a sneak peek at some of the concrete actions he’ll take to make his bigoted dreams a reality. If you live in Portland, you probably voted for Hillary Clinton, but the majority of white Americans did not. Trump’s supporters span all income brackets, and aren’t just white “rednecks” or blue-collar workers. They’re even female—a New York Times exit poll says that 53 percent of white women voted for Trump.
If you’re like me, you’ve got family members who support his racist/sexist/homophobic vision. You are not them—take a deep breath and repeat that to yourself—but you do benefit from the white supremacy they’re rallying behind.
Your shock is evidence of this privilege: If you’re surprised that America wants Trump, it’s likely because a) you live in a community/city/state that insulates you from his supporters and b) your white skin shields you from the very real, visceral threat their beliefs pose to the basic human rights of POC. You are probably not at risk here. They are. If you’re like me and have been a little too quiet about stepping up to support these groups, now’s your chance. As many have said before (including W. Kamau Bell and Sarah Mirk of Bitch), this is a white people problem. But it’s not just Trump—it’s the entire white supremacy that our country has marinated in for hundreds of years.
America was built by and for white people (specifically white men) on land that belonged to indigenous natives, and was subsequently bolstered by the labor of enslaved Africans. Women got the right to vote in 1920. Native Americans got the right to vote in 1924. African Americans didn’t get equal voting rights until 1965 with the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Only in the past 100 years have we allowed women and non-white Americans to participate in selecting elected officials—a process that is still structured to limit their voices.
If you think this history was somehow wiped clean off America’s slate, you’re wrong. The blood of these marginalized groups is stained indelibly into this land, and their ancestors are still struggling to exist in the wake of an ideology that views them as an impurity. Yet we continue to alienate those whose backs we’ve built our nation upon. Trump embraces and perpetuates this culture of alienation, which will put anyone he considers an outsider in extreme danger. If you’re white, you are at much less of a risk—that is your privilege.
Here are a few concrete actions we should all take to work against whatever he’s about to sling our way:
• First, don’t blame POC who didn’t vote or went third party. This is not their fault, and they should not be punished for refusing to participate in a political system that is relentlessly oppressive.
• If you are physically able, consider protesting. There were numerous protests last week that shut down I-5, and I’m sure they will continue. “We’re already thinking ahead to inauguration,” Portland Police Bureau spokesperson Sgt. Pete Simpson told the Mercury’s news team.
• Donate your time and money to organizations that protect the rights of POC, queer people, and women. Jezebel has a fantastic list of “Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry Organizations That Need Your Support.” This includes the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which defends all Americans’ Constitutional rights, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Planned Parenthood, and many more.
• Support minority businesses in your area; check out the Oregon Association of Minority Entrepreneurs (OAME) if you need some pointers.
• Don’t forget about the thousands of protestors at Standing Rock trying to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Consider donating to the legal defense fund of those involved, or sending supplies to prepare them for the cold winter months. Native Americans were largely ignored on both sides of this election, and they shouldn’t have been, since our country is literally built on their land.
• Don’t flirt with expatriating. Sit your bum down and don’t even joke about it. There are millions of Americans who can’t leave and are at risk of violence and harassment. Stay here and do the work to make it a less shitty place for them. Plus, whatever Trump does is going to ripple throughout the globe, so there’s no escaping this.
• Be nice to people. Check in with friends and offer emotional support. We should even try being nice to strangers—everybody’s in this together, and acknowledging someone else’s humanity could give them the hope they need to get through the coming days.
• Don’t stay silent. It shouldn’t have taken us this long to get angry, but going forward your silence will read as tolerance of Trump’s ideology.
Portland is considered a “progressive” place, so you might feel like Trump’s reign won’t affect you. But that’s exactly why you should be so moved to act right now—if an accused rapist who spouts hateful racist/sexist/homophobic rhetoric is elected president and it barely affects your day-to-day life, consider yourself massively privileged and start doing whatever you can to support those who aren’t.