How To Be An Ally To A Person Facing Bigotry In Trump’s America

All of a sudden, I was aware that almost half of my country hated me, or endorsed a man that does.
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Lists of what Trump plans to do in his first one hundred days, as well as Trump’s cabinet picks, are being circulated, and many of the goals set and people chosen are disturbing. It seems like America is in an apocalyptic state; after watching so many SNL skits, Trump impersonations, and satires, America’s worst nightmare has become reality, and it is hard to comprehend. How could he have been elected?! As a Muslim woman, I spent the first three days post-election feeling as if I was in a twilight zone, walking around with the worst knot in my stomach. I watched in a daze as my social media feed filled with lists of hate crimes that were happening, and kept replaying all of the horrible things Trump has said about Muslims over in my head. All of a sudden, I was aware that almost half of my country hated me, or endorsed a man that does (which is just as bad).

It is important to understand the harsh reality that minorities like Latinos, African Americans, Muslims, immigrants, women, disabled, and LGBTQ are facing. Reading and sharing the truth is not only important, it is necessary. Understanding what policies can come out of Trump’s presidency is also crucial if we want to organize and mobilize against any law he tries to pass that will threaten the livelihood of minorities. But it is also important to stick together, and reach out to each other. Here are some things you can do to be an ally to a person facing bigotry in Trump’s America:

1. Recognize your privilege if you are in that position. Your job now more than ever is to be an ally to those who are targets of hate and bigotry. Use your voice to stand and fight with minorities (but understand that you do not fight on behalf of them or pity them).

2. Reach out to your local mosques, churches, synagogues, temples, or any community centers of minority groups. Tell them that you are here, you want to understand what they are about and that you will stand up for their rights. And follow through. Now more than ever, it is important to do physical work; it is not enough to have acceptance for others in your heart. You need to go out of your way to let them know.

Here is an example of a woman in Tennessee who shared messages of love and acceptance to her Muslim neighbors at the local mosque. Her actions inspired an entire neighborhood to do the same, no doubt building bridges in that community and fostering new relationships built on love and understanding.

3. Respect the emotional process. Do not tell someone they cannot be upset, afraid, or that they should not feel any of the emotions they are currently feeling. Saying that comes from privilege. These feelings are legitimate and should be addressed with words of encouragement and solidarity. Give people space to work through their emotions, because their post-election grief is real. Instead, uplift them with messages of love and hope and tell them you are an ally.

4. Educate yourself on different religions, cultures, and civil rights issues. Do so by doing your own research and engaging in in-person conversations with people. People often fear the unknown, so it is time that you ask questions and be receptive to that which is different from yourself.

5. Be an advocate. Support organizations that help fight for the rights of minorities, or even join them. If you overhear a bigoted conversation, say something. Defend those who are not there to defend themselves.

6. If you see someone being the target of hate and bigotry, say something. Shut the attackers down, call the authorities, do whatever the situation warrants. At the very least, help remove the person being attacked from the situation. Let them know you are here for them and you stand with them. Reassure them that they are not alone. Being a silent bystander makes you a part of the problem. Here is a helpful guide on how to stand up to public harassment.

7. Build new friendships with people who are different from you. It is how we grow. Diversity simply makes us better.

8. Spread messages of love and hope, whether it is through your social media, in your classroom, at work, or in the street. Write a letter to your neighbor letting them know you are here for them.

9. Do something nice for a stranger. Make someone’s day, whether it is with a kind word, buying his or her cup of coffee, or simply a smile.

10. Avoid hate speech or language yourself. Sometimes we say things as jokes or in private, but we do not realize how hurtful they can be to others. It starts with you.

Finally, now is not the time to sit back and hope everything works out. We must go out of our way; we must inconvenience ourselves if necessary in order to change the culture of hate that has taken over our country. Trump’s election has exposed the bigotry in this country, and it is worse than we thought it was. We need to get to work. Do not be afraid to rock the boat. Agitate. Mobilize. Be politically engaged. At the very least, be aware. For many people, the political is personal; making sure their civil or human rights are not being trampled on is a means of survival.

Now more than ever is the time to build a united community that celebrates the uniqueness of different cultures, religions, race, and anything else that defines a person. Submission to fear will only divide us further as a nation.

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