Unity in Trump’s America Must Begin with Protecting Vulnerable Communities

Catholic high school girls in Queens, NY harassing African-Americans on a NYC bus, suggesting they move to the back of the bus now that Trump is president.

The Muslim center at New York University being vandalized.

Multiple stories from across the nation of young Muslim women having their hijabs pulled off and ethnic slurs thrown at them.

Parents telling their children not to speak Spanish in public because it is not safe.

A classroom of middle school children asking their teacher if they’re going to be deported because they are Muslim or because they are Indian and “look Muslim.” Even though they are citizens, they are afraid of being kicked out because of religion.

Gay, lesbian, and transgender students afraid to leave their dorm room on college campuses.

Human walls being created at schools to block the entrance of Latino and Latina children.

It is morning in Trump’s America.

I have no words. I spent the morning rereading stories friends posted and looking through @ShaunKing’s important twitter collection of stories from across the country.  I can’t manage to write this post without being overwhelmed to the point of paralysis and tears.

In Florida, “colored” and “whites only” signs were posted on school water fountains. At Canisius College in Buffalo, the lynching of a black doll was staged on campus.

Yet on the news and on social media, I see growing calls for unity, being open-minded, and building bridges.  We need to move forward. We need a plan to work together over the next four years. Abstractly, I understand the sentiment – Donald Trump is the President-elect.  This is the political reality. But this is not and cannot be politics as usual.

Over the last 48 hours, the violent attacks against persons of color, religious minorities, and women are staggering. These are not isolated incidents. They are the direct result of a two-year campaign that adopted and accepted racist, xenophobic, and sexist rhetoric. It is not surprising that the alt-right and the KKK think they have license to take back their “America.” Before anyone can talk about unity and being open minded, communities under attack need to be protected and the violence must stop.

At Political Theology, Annie Selak eloquently writes, “Calls for unity only make sense in the midst of working for justice. One must work to create conditions where all, especially the most vulnerable, are able to be a part of the collective whole in a full, complete sense. In Gutierrez’s language, there is no space for neutrality in unity.”

There can be no reconciliation without justice. There can be no justice without the protection of vulnerable communities, eliminating the legitimate reasons for fear, and rejecting white supremacy.  We can assume that many voted for Trump in spite of this rhetoric or under the assumption that he didn’t really mean it. Whether or not he or his voters “meant it,” electing Trump legitimatized the very worst of this nation. If we want unity and to build bridges moving forward, if we want to have honest conversations about how and why people voted for Trump in spite of calls to expel millions, build a giant wall, ban Muslims, and joke about sexually assaulting women, there first needs to be a universal condemnation of this violence against communities of color, Muslims, and women.

I cannot get the image out of my head–teenage girls in a Catholic school uniform suggesting that a black passenger belonged at the back of the bus now. In 2016.

When it comes to creating the conditions for reconciliation, it must be said to the 52% of Catholics who voted for Trump: the ball is in your court.