Vulnerability, A Definition in the Trump Era

foot-stompThe only response I have to America’s election results last Tuesday is this. Those who are against everything Trump stands for can show it by looking out for all who this election has just made much more vulnerable. On some level, who that is is obvious; these are people whom Trump has specifically targeted – pretty much everyone but straight, cis, wealthy, white men (which, no, is not “just as sexist and racist” as Trump. If I see only white men doing something, it’s not sexist and racist for me to call out white men; it’s speaking the truth. Also, reverse racism is not a thing and reverse sexism is not a thing. It’s the epitome of privilege to demand that the term sexism or racism be applied equally without fighting for actual equality among all). But, really, if we truly mean it when we say “we have to look out for each other,” we need to start paying attention to those who are silenced, endangered or invisibilized when:

The powerful use their power to gloat, threaten or focus only on how wonderful they anticipate their lives being even as millions shake with fear and despair

The powerful “turn the other cheek” when someone around them is being harmed

“Allies” are silent

Those with privilege claim “fear” as a legitimate excuse for their inaction

The privileged equate anger with the “ism” (racism, sexism, ableism, etc.) or phobia (Islamophobia, homophobia, xenophobia, etc.) that they themselves are perpetuating

“Allies” demand that people fight instead of grieve or mourn

The outcry for justice and equality is criticized as “divisive” while slurs, catcalls and hate speech are deemed protected under the 1st Amendment

Only certain people feel safe enough to not even have to think about safety when walking around alone

The most common responses to a victim’s story begin with “at least it wasn’t worse”

The most common responses from people who believe the victim involve encouraging them to call the police

Less than a quarter of the population thinks their candidate won by the process of “democracy,” demands deference and respect from the very people who Trump himself has said are not safe, and somehow can still claim they aren’t racist, sexist, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-poor person without feeling the need to take any action to prove such a claim

No genuine apologies – which really means change in behavior – seem to be forthcoming


If you are terrified because of what America did on Tuesday, whoever you are, it is okay. You don’t have to believe people, however well-intentioned they may be, that “things will be okay.” In fact, the only thing I see being okay right now is fear, outrage and grief. Fight if you want, encourage others if you want, but if you don’t think mourning or despair are appropriate responses to what happened last week, then you may be benefitting from more privilege than you think.

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