America's Post-Trumpatic Syndrome

By Kica Matos and Whitney Shepard

As the pollsters read their tea leaves and reassure us that we will likely escape a Trump presidency, notwithstanding the partisan political shenanigans of FBI Director James Comey, those of us who have been holding our breath find their words less comforting than we would have anticipated. There are many reasons why. Some of us are wary of the polls, and won't fully exhale until after November 8.

Others worry that even if we escape a Trump presidency, the damage that he has caused may have longstanding effects, setting back the clock and potentially undoing some of the progress that we have made on issues impacting women, immigrants and people of color in our country.

It may well be that Trump is just the poster-boy of the problem and the wave that gave him fame will come crashing down. But even if it does, one thing is clear: there will be consequences, potentially deadly ones from Trump's Alt-Right parade. Already we have seen an emboldened right wing faction of the GOP; the heralding of white supremacist views, and an increase in the number of Americans joining white supremacist organizations. The acts of violence and harassment directed at people of color and women by Trump fanatics are indicators of just how deeply woven these problems are in our nation's fabric, and we need to prepare and commit ourselves to fighting against the mainstreaming of hate in our country championed by a Trump candidacy.

We know that racism in this country did not come with the rise of Trump, nor will it go with his demise. The danger of Trump however, has been the relentless marketing and normalizing of hate speech that play upon played-out racial tropes and myths that demonize and dehumanize people of color. He has blown air into white supremacist narratives while inciting further violence and discrimination against non-whites. He has upped the ante, encouraging the alt-right trolls that formerly operated in the confines of extreme right wing websites and comment fields to come out and spread the gospel of hate.

Former KKK grand wizard David Duke, who has repeatedly elevated Trump and his views while campaigning for a Senate seat, has gone as far as to say that he is "overjoyed to see Donald Trump and most Americans embrace most of the issues I've championed for years."

Trump is a business man, and he has chosen the strategy of unapologetically pandering to the more radical arms of his base and excluding moderate voters in a faulty calculation that will surely cost him the election. The populism he has spurred has exposed a national fault line, but as we know, with every crisis comes an opportunity to rebuild stronger and smarter than the last time. When the wave of Trumpism crashes, we in the progressive sphere need to think strategically on where we can channel the displaced energy and hunger for change that he's unintentionally riled up. After all, many of Trump's supporters are frustrated with the political process and the GOP in general, and do not trust them to represent their needs; a critique that's not far from those who feel marginalized within the Democratic Party, such as young black millennials.

To achieve this capturing of defeated energy from Trump's base and the antipathy of black millennials and channel it into positive change will require robust organizing and a shifting of the narrative with a strong racial and economic analysis around key issues. To be clear, this is a long-term process. But in the meantime, it is not enough to roll our eyes at the incendiary nonsense that spews out of Trump's mouth, or shudder at the hatred that seems to ooze from his pores. We must take seriously the dangerous lynch mob mentality that he ignites and supports, as our communities know far too well the harmful consequences.

As part of a short and long term strategy, we must continue to expose the violence and hatred that Trump has catalyzed, not only to guarantee he stays out of office, but to make sure that we eradicate it. Between now and the elections, we must continue to tirelessly knock on doors, aggressively pushing our get out the vote efforts. We must do this on behalf of individuals like seven-year-old Abdul Usmani who was assaulted by five of his class mates for being Muslim. We must do this with and for the African-

American woman who was harassed while waiting for a taxi being told "Trump is going to win and if you don't like it, I'm going to beat your ass". And as we vote, we must think of the homeless Latino man in Boston who was beaten and urinated on by Trump supporters as they made pro Trump and anti-immigrant comments.

And after the elections, we must be prepared to defend against policies that will likely emerge in Congress and state legislatures around the country aimed at curbing the rights of women, Muslims, immigrants and people of color. The fight will and must continue.

We do not have a magic crystal ball that can tell us how, when, and where the Trump Wave will crash. But this much we know: in the new post-election America, we must work hard to make the man and his views a regrettable part of history and move more powerfully together towards a brighter future for all.

Kica Matos is Director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice at the Center for Community Change Action. Whitney Shepard is the Racial Justice Coordinator at the Center for Community Change Action.