It has been difficult for me to listen to people complain about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. I like to call it “Trump talk.” Don’t get me wrong; I agree with them. Trump is hazardous in so many ways. He is validating some seriously harming beliefs and becoming a mobilizer of hate that is not going to go away after the election.
As a biracial Black woman with a multi-racial family, I feel the increased level of danger to me and my loved ones. This is especially true when I read news stories such as when someone left a pro-Trump note containing targeted racial slurs on a multi-racial family’s doorstep in West Seattle. I realize there are even worse things happening to families of color throughout the U.S. thanks to Trump. My family will be looking at an electoral results map before going on vacation this summer, so we can avoid the pro-Trump areas. Trump has boosted White nationalists as a significant contingency in the Republican Party. That is a threat to our country.
But I think a significant reason that I have a hard time with Trump talk is that he is a distraction and is interfering with really important work that we need to do in order to fight for economic, social and racial justice. Trump talk can stop people from digging deep to change their own behavior and assumptions. I’m fearful that a lot of people are saying that they’re not racist or classist, and pointing to Trump as the real problem. People are spending too much of their time commiserating about Trump when we should be using those valuable minutes and hours discussing what’s wrong in our own neighborhoods, schools, criminal justice system, social service systems and lack of affordable housing.
I’d like to challenge people to stay focused on their own personal growth through reading, workshops and deeper discussions with their community. If you get trapped in a conversation about the newest awful Trump moment of the day, I’d recommend you saying, “Yeah that is unacceptable, but you know what else is?” and then addressing the issues that Real Change discusses in this paper, that we face in our city and that your vendor experiences every day — the problems of classism, racism and oppression that pervade every element of our lives.
These are just a few things we could be talking about other than Trump:
● Increasing the use of restorative justice in our community: Support this human-centered way to help build people up rather than locking them in jail or suspending them from school
● A more holistic approach when interacting with drug users: We can help reduce the harm caused by drug use by providing things such as a safe injection site or treatment and other support systems instead of putting people in jail
● Supporting shelter and services in our neighborhoods: There is a lot of fear about who would populate a potential shelter in White Center, and people seem to forget that it is just a place that will be refuge for the most vulnerable people in our own communities and to remember that without shelter people die
● Improving oversight and how we can better support Black Lives Matter actions: Recently, Seattle teachers wore BLM T-shirts and expanded their curricula to address the reality that many of their students and their families experience
● Comprehensive immigration reform: In Tacoma, the Northwest Detention Center houses more than a thousand people awaiting trial
● Addressing the increased presence of Islamophobia: I highly recommend the Coalition for American-Islamic Relations’ trainings on addressing Islamophobia.
There are so many critical things going on in our society that need immediate attention. To spend a significant portion of our time on Trump talk is a disservice to us all. Let’s not get distracted. Let’s push ourselves to do more good than the harm Trump is causing. Besides, after this week he will no longer be relevant when talking about our next president.