This morning, I had breakfast at a small, local cafe that employs mostly Latinos. Later, I went to a job, which is small business owned by a Scotsman. I am the child of immigrants from the Philippines. While I dined on my bacon and eggs (always scrambled), Donald Trump was being sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America.
Many of my friends and former co-workers will be participating in marches and protests tomorrow. While I do support their participation in these public outcries, I do wish they stay safe. Some of the anti-Trump protests have become violent; I hope the ones tomorrow remain peaceful.
I don’t think my world will be ending soon. While many of my social media feed is filled with anti-Trump sentiments, I still look to 2017 and beyond with hope. Trump will definitely make changes to this nation, but democracy moves slowly. He has already made concessions on some of his campaign promises (to the chagrin of many of his supporters). And while he wants to upend Washington, it will take him awhile. Trump will still need to placate dozens, if not hundreds, of Republicans, many of whom opposed him previously. He can’t ignore them all and expect to get his policies to be passed through. Even though he’s doesn’t seem the best at compromising, Trump will have to learn to do so as President.
I know that I write this post from a position of privilege. I am a college-educated, middle class professional, married to a woman of the same ilk. We are homeowners, financially independent, healthy of mind and body. While I am not Caucasian, my racial profile isn’t treated as harshly as others. (That’s another blog post for another time). I can advocate for myself, both privately and in the public eye, while many others in this nation cannot.
But there is a chance that my lifestyle will be drastically changed in the coming years. Small businesses (like the ones I work for) may be in trouble, as larger corporations take over the mom-and-pop establishments of old. Immigrants (illegal or otherwise) may face deportation or incarceration, changing the employment landscape. And the bi-coastal liberal progressives may continue to be challenged by the conservatism of the old guard.
For now, I will be OK. But those of us who are fine must continue to speak up for those who are in worse positions, people who are unable to fight back against the establishment. Whether it be in public marches or private discussions, the fight for justice and equality continues. The Trump presidency may be a setback for many of us, but it does not constitute the end of freedom. We have voices… we just need to get them heard.
Actually, maybe Trump is what us progressives need. With Obama at the helm for the last 8 years, perhaps we have become too complacent, too passive. We allowed others to fight the good fight, letting others get their hands dirty. Now, with those cultural changes being threatened, we will be called to action, to get off our couches and off social media and to start doing good work. To get out into the field and start talking to people. We will never change minds posting inspirational quotes or memes of Obama and Biden. We will only change minds and hearts by getting to know people who think differently than us, by asking honest questions and being truly interested in listening. And maybe even asking ourselves if our hearts are into this. Because if we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem. By not acting, we are allowing those in power to subjugate their victims, letting our cowardice get in the way of what is right.
Few of us will have as much broad influence as an Obama or a Trump. But maybe it’s more important that the many of us have influence on just a few people. Let’s talk to each other, listen to each other, try to understand each other, care for each other. Then maybe it won’t matter who the President of the United States is.