On Wednesday morning, I woke to a pounding headache and tears already forming in my eyes. Like so many, I stayed up late, watching our country’s electoral map light up red as Donald J. Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States.
Despite months of blatant displays of discrimination and xenophobia — or, more likely, because of it — Trump’s divisive campaign proved to be a success.
For many, the idea of a Trump presidency is a reason to celebrate. For others, the results of this election have come as a soul-crushing defeat. But for millions of marginalized Americans — including myself, a queer Latina in a biracial relationship with a Black woman — a Trump presidency is a visceral threat to our very existence. To put these complex, sometimes unfathomable ideas into terms that might be easier to grasp, below are a few icons and bold-faced names belonging to marginalized groups who wouldn’t be welcome in Trump’s America.
In addition to her role on Orange is the New Black, Guerrero is an immigration rights activist and the author of In the Country We Love: My Family Divided, a memoir chronicling her experiences as the child of undocumented immigrants.
Over the past several months, Trump has targeted Latinos and undocumented immigrants, dubbing them rapists, criminals, and overall bad hombres and blaming them for many of this country’s social and economic problems. But, in addition to name-calling, a Trump presidency has the power to severely alter the lives of many Latinos, particularly undocumented immigrants and their families.
Trump’s presidency will likely implement a nativist ideology which views immigrants as threatening competitors for American jobs. The president-elect has long voiced his plans to start a nationwide crackdown on illegal immigration and intends to expand detention centers and construct a wall along the Southwest border of the country which will further harm and alienate Latino immigrants fleeing violence in Latin America.
Racism and discrimination doesn’t only affect those living in poverty and anonymity. Chris Rock is one of many Black celebrities with a connection to state-enforced violence. The actor and comedian, who is known for using comedy as a means of social commentary, has been vocal about racial profiling, police brutality, and systemic inequality. Were it not for his fame and wealth, it is likely that Rock would find himself in a precarious position, alongside many impoverished Black Americans who suffer at the hands of the state.
Trump has continuously missed the mark on the topic of police brutality, essentially dismissing the racist undertones of the widespread violence sweeping this nation. Trump, instead, argues that the state must to give more power to the police as means of dealing with what he calls “rampant crime.” Trump has also been vocal in his support of stop and frisk policies and supports the increased enforcement of law and order.
In the wake of the San Bernadino shooting, Trump called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” However, these comments are only a small part of a much larger problem of rampant islamophobia in this country.
A Trump presidential campaign will have profound effects on the lives of American Muslims, including well-known musicians like DJ Khaled, a Palestinian-American who has opened up about his “devout” Muslim faith.
Throughout his campaign, Trump has scapegoated Islam for American security issues, a trend that resonated with a deeply-fearful American populous. But these fears have real consequences. Hate crimes against Muslims have risen and are continuing to rise. Hyper-vigilance and discrimination against Muslims have become more commonplace, and many Muslims feel unsafe in this country. Given this political climate, one can only begin to imagine how Trump’s presidency will affect the lives of American Muslims.
An out lesbian who is engaged to be married to her partner Lauren Morelli, Wiley is among the many LGBTQ+ people in this country whose freedoms are threatened by a Trump presidency. Just last year, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of nationwide marriage equality, a symbolic move that has validated the existence of many LGBTQ+ Americans.
Now that Trump has been elected — and is backed by a Republican majority in both the House and the Senate — many of the recent strides made for equality are at risk. Trump has consistently and openly opposed nationwide marriage equality — reversing marriage equality has been an especially high priority for Vice President-elect, Mike Pence — which would directly affect both people like Wiley, who is engaged and hopes to marry her partner, and the couples who were finally able to have their union’s recognized by law thanks to marriage equality. The president-elect has also gone on record to embrace North Carolina’s HB2 — one of the nation’s most crucial anti-LGBTQ+ laws — as well as the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) which would allow for widespread discrimination across the country.
In the wake of Trump’s election, many Americans find themselves afraid because of who they are and who they love. Without a president who champions LGBTQ+ rights, the future of LGBTQ+ rights seems bleak.
Transgender rights have been a particularly important focus of human rights politics in recent years. Among the most notable celebrities standing behind this cause is trans actress and activist, Laverne Cox.
Cox has fervently spoken out about discrimination against trans people in the United States. Today, there continue to be widespread hate crimes targeting transgender and non-gender conforming individuals, particularly people of color. This year has already seen several transgender people killed by violent means.
Trump has expressed his support for HB2 — North Carolina’s anti-transgender bathroom bill — and said he would depart from the Obama Administration’s favorable view of transgender rights, namely the idea that individuals deserve to be allowed to use restrooms matching their gender identity. Trump has made it clear he will not enforce civil rights at a federal level ensuring transgender Americans are treated equally by the law.
There has been increased speculation about what Trump’s presidential cabinet will look like. However, it is highly likely that Trump will be appointing Governor Chris Christie as his attorney general. The ramifications of this appointment will be considerable.
One of the individuals who will be directly at risk once Trump is sworn in is Assata Shakur. In 1977, Shakur was sentenced to life in prison but managed to escape to Cuba, where she was granted political asylum. In the months following the reopened relationship between the United States and Cuba, however, there has been fear that the Cuban government would turn political refugees like Shakur back over to the United States. Christie has been particularly vocal about his desire for Shakur — a former Black Panther — to be returned to the United States.
As of yet, Cuba has steadfastly denied that an extradition will happen. Still, although there has been widespread support for Shakur’s case, the power Trump will soon yield as president represents a threat, not only for Shakur but for political activists across the country and elsewhere in the world.
Trump’s vocal targeting of immigrants and non-white individuals has led to a new wave of American birtherism. One of the most notable targets of Trump’s birther rumor mill was Barack Obama. Trump recently admitted that Obama was in fact born in the United States, but not before perpetuating myths about his birthplace and legitimacy.
Mr. Trump falsely claimed at one point that Hillary Clinton was the originator of birtherism, however there is substantial evidence that Trump has been an unwavering leader of the birther movement.
If the president of the United States is susceptible to scandalous birther rumors spread by Trump, it remains to be seen who else may become vulnerable. In a country led by a xenophobic nationalist, birtherism holds the potential to become a crucial tool in exerting power and catalyzing irrational hostility between Americans.
Now, the above individuals carry identities that are of particularly risk in Trump’s America, it is important to acknowledge that each of them also carries a considerable amount of privilege and are at a lesser risk than non-celebrities who carry the same marginalized identities.
I can’t help but think about how this presidency will color my own future. As the dust begins to settle, I find myself gripped by an uneasy feeling — a fear most easily summarized by one question: do I matter? With each passing day, the answer to this question seems increasingly doubtful.