The past week, the majority of my social interaction has been centered around the election. Interactions with my friends, my professors, my family and even now small talk with my peers has been intensely concerned with the election, and for good reason. For some people in this county, in the world, and at Bates, this is an intense threat to their body, identity and autonomy. While Trump’s election represented freedom for some group of people, it represented detainment of, control over, and outright other-izing of others. Rather than collect my thoughts towards the possible causes of this election, my disappointment in the 50% of his voters who were white and college educated, and possible results and extremes that could happen, I will keep this article simple. Here is a simple how-to from my own personal experience of how to be an ally in the face of a Trump presidency. While this is directed at white people (who generally need the most guidance in terms of how to be an ally), it can also be applicable to other privileged groups.
1. Listen. Do not say your opinion about the election until the marginalized person you are talking to has said everything that they would like.
2. Do not speak to any marginalized person about how “scared” you are of the Trump presidency.
3. Acknowledge your privilege [whiteness, class, etc.]. Acknowledging your whiteness as something that gives you an unfair social power over someone who does not have access to certain social power such as freely speaking their mind and being listened to acknowledges that you are aware of your identity. By acknowledging your identity, you are acknowledging that there may be differences between your experiences and you are helping dismantle media and social control which normalizes whiteness.
4. Actively try to act gently. I don’t know how else to say this one. Minorities in the U.S. are collectively facing more violence than I can imagine. One of the ways to delineate this violence is to be a safe and gentle source of social interaction.
5. When your friends/peers make offensive comments or jokes about an identity they do not belong to or about the Trump presidency [that won’t actually affect their social status or life opportunities], challenge them. Use your privilege to speak up for underprivileged groups. This does not in any way mean that you are “saving” them. This does not in any way mean that you are “helping.” It means that you are trying not to participate in social behavior that condones your [or your friend’s, if they are different] use and abuse of privilege.