In the weeks since the election, hate crimes are up. You might think that you live in a blue bubble of tolerance and community. You might want to think about that again.
A swastika was found drawn on Braddock Drive. There have been reports of people screaming from cars “Go back to Mexico” in Carlson Park. My neighbors are wondering if they will put up their Hannukah lights his year, because broadcasting that they are Jewish does not feel safe.
My students have been candid about feeling scared; not just stressed or upset. Scared. These are adults with plenty of perspective, and more than a few good coping mechanisms. Imagine what it feels like to be a dark skinned kid walking home from school. Imagine what it feels like to be a woman walking downtown wearing a hajib or a sari. Imagine being part of an interracial or same sex couple; would you still hold hands walking down the street? Kiss in public? Or would you refrain, wondering if one of the passing cars is a bigot, feeling freshly legitimized by the election?
And the Reich has not even taken office yet.
What can we do? A lot of things.
On the most local and effective level, talk with the people around you. Make eye contact. Make small talk. Many of us are feeling insecure, isolated and scared. Just a few words can create a sense of connection and let the people near you know that you are safe. That creates a safe space, and that makes everyone more comfortable.
Take action. Do one thing every day to support social justice and civil rights. Make a phone call – call, don’t email- it’s a lot more powerful. Donate a few dollars to the ACLU, to Planned Parenthood, to RAINN, to NAMI.
Speaking of dollars – vote with your wallet. How and where you spend money is the most meaningful way to support what you believe in. Target is being boycotted by the alt-Reich. TJ Maxx opted to step over the legal back and forth mess about overtime, and pay their employees the overtime anyway. You can let the management at Bed, Bath and Beyond know that you prefer they stop carrying Trump label products. Spend your money in places that do the right thing.
Support a free and independent press. Subscribe to the Los Angeles Times, and to the New York Times if you can. There is no corporate support that is going to carry your end, and every single subscription makes a difference. (Imagine if everyone in LA County subscribed to the LA Times, and made it attractive enough to be locally owned again …) Don’t fall for the clickbait. You knew it was clickbait- Now know that it’s toxic clickbait. Don’t watch or listen to news that normalizes the crisis. Don’t let the monsters become part of the landscape.
When you see the couple holding hands, the kid walking down the street, the woman in her cultural clothing, don’t be shy. Be a friend; make eye contact, say something even if it’s just about the weather. Let them know you recognize them as people, as neighbors, as community members.
The only way any of us get to be safe is if we all get to be safe. And that can happen here.
– Judith Martin-Straw