I am posting this again as my friends and I regroup following the American Anthropological Association’s yearly conference, and the Thanksgiving holidays. I was fortunate to spend time with wonderful people, and was asked some thought-and-action-provoking questions. These questions help me plan some form of action each week, which counters the despair many of us are feeling.
What is your gift? What is your piece? Who supports you in this work?
And the reminder: this incoming administration is not normal.
Let each of us plan our next moves. There is too much at stake to remain silent now. I draw strength every day from my friends and colleagues who share a commitment to human dignity and decency. And let me say it: I am a relatively privileged white woman with a PhD. Trump and his kind will not come for me first— they will turn first on the targets Trump enumerated throughout his campaign. People of color, Muslims, members of the LGBTQ communities, undocumented workers, asylum seekers— they are on the frontlines of the forthcoming assault. So let us be the best allies we can. If the Trump administration registers Muslims, then state you are a Muslim. If the right to same sex marriage is repealed, then register as gay every time you must state your status. If asked your (binary) gender, check the box for Other. They will not come for us first, so we must be the buffer for what comes next. People we love are in danger.
One former student who is Muslim let me know how much it mattered to her in the aftermath of 9/11 to have people — friends and strangers — reach out to make sure she was alright and to offer a safe place if she needed it. As she wrote, “When suddenly you are judged for just being who you are, having kind people around you makes the world of difference.” Be that difference in someone’s life.
Here is another tool. This can be adapted to your school or university. It reclaims public space as a site of peaceful association, and can help our students who feel particularly threatened right now. One colleague, with the support of her provost, has made a version with her Lehman College logo and they are posting these across campus. For professors and schoolteachers, you can hang this on your door. Our students need reassurance now.
I plan to do this in the spaces in which I live and work. Racist and sexist behavior colonizes public space, and reclaiming it with love and messages of solidarity matters. It matters for all of us, but right now especially for those who are directly threatened by Trump’s hate-filled rhetoric and the ways in which this election outcome has emboldened public attacks on Muslims, people of color, members of the LGBTQ communities, women and girls. I plan to practice solidarity….and to make a whole lot of noise as well.
“While Kimberly Theidon, a professor of humanitarian studies at Tufts University, took her dogs for a walk on Wednesday morning, she thought about the numerous times guys have driven by and shouted “some disgusting version of ‘great tits.’”
“This morning I blinked back tears, realizing those guys are even more emboldened as a result of this election,” Theidon said. “Yet another generation of young women will grow up having been made to feel that their bodies are somehow public property, and they will also keep putting one foot in front of another and not say a word for fear the car will circle back around a second time.”