Racism, prejudice, sexism, bigotry and xenophobia - these horrendous ideologies all existed before Donald Trump became president-elect of the United States. His victory (barf) doesn't change that. And sure, these ways of being, these values, do not represent everyone. What this win does change, though, are the messages about leadership, power, government and community to which we (kids included, emphasis on kids) are exposed.
It tells us (and all kids) that hey, if you are a white man with money, you can make a racist comment or commit an assault (sexual, physical, etc.) and still totally be respected, valued and idolized, because look at this power-hungry, "business" person who brags about grabbing women by the hoo-ha. He was just chosen to lead one of the most powerful (if not the most powerful) country in the world. This re-affirms that yes, you can get away with sexually assaulting that person behind the dumpster on campus because you have an important swimming career ahead of you.
The hate crimes and awful acts that have spurred out of control since Trump won the election in early November have all happened before, but right now, the people who are responsible for committing them feel verified, they feel confident even, to carry these *crimes* out because the president-elect led a campaign where all of these things were somehow OK. These people complete actions like this and then make a connection to the recent horrific election and its predecessor, the campaign from hell, to justify their skewed perspective.
In Canada, we forget that things are happening, and have happened, north of the border, too -- even in the city I call home, which is known to be Canada's most multicultural place to reside. Yet still, people in this tossed salad do things like this. We too have blood on our hands, and threats for like-minded Trumps prying for power, hoping to reign from Bonavista to Vancouver Island. We are not exempt.
Women, the LGBTQ community, people of colour, people of religions derived from faiths other than Christianity, both in the U.S. and around the globe, have always feared lack of acceptance because of hate. Now, their fear has been verified by a fear-monger.
Over the last few weeks, I've heard these comments consistently: "I don't understand why people are scared of this Trump win. He is just one man. He is just one person. What he said in his campaign were just words."
Do we want our children, or a loved one's children, to grow up in a safe place where they have the opportunity to prosper regardless of what they believe, the colour of their skin or who they love? I can only assume the answer to this is yes for most people. If my assumption is correct, the answer should then also be yes for everyone's child.
We easily forget that no matter where we live or work, the entire world is one community. Every action we make is an action that will impact the lives of people both at home and afar.
Now that this sexual predator will soon hold the top job, the people around us and the media we consume will normalize his behaviour and the behaviour of his team. They will tell you that he doesn't want hate crimes to happen; and he himself will say to cameras across North America, "Stop it!" The media will tell you that he is different than election-campaign-Trump, and that he is more calm, more presidential. They will tell you about Melania's fashion history, and they will shame her for previously posing in the nude.
But don't forget, he was once not able to hold responsibility for 140-character messages on a social media platform.
We shouldn't glorify Trump's claim to fame (being a celebrity racist, sexist fool is not something anyone wants to see on a leader's LinkedIn profile). Instead, we should continue to criticize Trump's road to riches, plagued by unpaid workers, bankruptcy, accusations of sexual assault and everything a child's nightmarish comic book character villain would flaunt.
Yet, the conversation has changed.
This Trump win tells me that I deserve to be whistled at by construction workers on my way to work. After all, it's just whistling. This win tells me that because I am a woman, I will never have a powerful job, and if I do have one, I don't deserve it. This win tells me that my body is my whole me, and my persona and my point-of-view don't deserve to be heard. This win tells me that I am defined by what men want to define me as. For all I know, the words people use to describe my body and what they want to do with it are truly just words, so I should have no issues with them being said. This win tells me that my voice is meaningless. This win tells me that because I was born female, I am not as worthy as those born male.
The reality is, though, that this story has been heard more than thousands of times. I am white woman. The time is crucial now to support people who haven't yet had the chance to make their voice heard because people like Trump continue to stand too tall; continue to speak too loud. We need to use our strength to stand by their side.
Before I finalized this, I asked a fellow Canadian and dear friend to review it and offer any feedback.
Her response included this paragraph about how she and her partner are mourning post-election results: "We now have to really carefully consider what states we can travel to freely, and which ones are simply too dangerous. It is the scariest thing. On the night itself, I said 'I didn't realize so many people hate us,' which was an extremely heartbreaking realization."
FYI, the future is furious.
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