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'I'm Afraid for Black Lives': The Women of Color Organizing to Take Down Trump

Nov 9 2016 10:35 PM
'I'm Afraid for Black Lives': The Women of Color Organizing to Take Down Trump

Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS via Getty

We spoke to Jodeen Olguín-Tayler, one of the women organizing nationwide protests to oppose the bigotry and hate exemplified by the election results.

Too early this morning, Donald Trump stood in front of a podium and his supporters to recite his presidential victory speech in a smugly practiced tone of graciousness. After his win, pundits were quick to chime in, claiming the privileged billionaire's ascendency was somehow a repudiation of Washington elites and a triumph of the white working class. But to people of color, queer people, women, and anyone on the side of human decency, Trump's victory serves as a symbol of hate officially being affirmed as one of America's highest ideals. Trump is now the leader of the free world. This is our reality.

For his part, Trump announced in his speech that he hopes to be a president who unites all people, despite running a campaign that has promised to punish women who seek abortions, disparaged the Black Lives Matter movement, and threatened to deport Muslim and Mexican citizens. And as if Trump's words were at all sincere, President Barack Obama—who has spend the last few months doggedly pointing out the dangers of a Trump presidency while campaigning for Hillary Clinton—is now apparently ready to welcome him into the White House with open arms. "Everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But we have to remember that we are all on the same team," Obama told a crowd of reporters later in the morning, urging Americans to support Trump's presidency.

Read more: The Unclear Future of Trans Rights Under Trump

But there are those of us who just can't do that. There are those of us for whom a Trump administration is at worst a threat to our lives and at best a symbol of white supremacy. There are those of us who can't simply brush away the fact that their incoming president has been gleefully endorsed by both current and former KKK members. There are those of us who can't forget that the real estate investor has been literally sued for racial discrimination, or that his Vice President, Mike Pence, is a staunch supporter of mass incarceration policies that disproportionately affect black and Latino people. It's certainly, for many in America, an occasion for anger and sadness when the country decides to elect someone who, to this day, calls for the heads of the innocent black men who were wrongfully persecuted as the Central Park Five. I personally would not want to be counted among the members of his "team."

Thankfully, there is another team that has plenty of room for new members on all sides of the divide. The Our 100 campaign is organizing thousands of people to stand up to Trump's bigotry. The grassroots campaign started out as an effort to promote the voices of women of color, regardless of the election's outcome, but it has since adjusted to the higher stakes.

I'm afraid for Muslim Americans and immigrants. I'm afraid for a very violent resurgence of normalizing rape culture.

Tonight, they are leading protests across the country that challenge the legitimacy of Trump's presidency—bringing together the co-founders of Black Lives Matter, a CNN anchor, and MyMuslimVote, among many others, to send a message to the nation: Equality must prevail over hate. The rally is part of a national initiative consisting of numerous nationwide protests and civil disobedience actions for the first 100 hours after election day, all of which center the experiences of women of color but welcome everyone.

"We have a lot more work to do in order to build the America we deserve, but we are strong, determined, and just getting started," said Alicia Garza, a co-founder of Black Lives Matter, in a press release.

We talked to Jodeen Olguín-Tayler, one of the organizers of the protest and the Vice President of Demos, about why it is important to get into the streets and speak out against Trump's toxic vision of America.

BROADLY: What was your reaction when it was announced that Trump had enough votes to win the election?
Jodeen Olguín-Tayler: It was terrifying. I'm deeply afraid for immigrants. I'm deeply afraid for my own family, who are immigrants. I'm afraid of the deportations and families being ripped apart. I'm afraid of people being kicked off benefits. I'm afraid for black lives. I'm afraid for Muslim Americans and immigrants. I'm afraid for a very violent resurgence of normalizing rape culture. I think it is incredibly important that we do what we're doing today, which is to come out, stand together, and show that any attack on our communities is an attack on all of us. We are also here to say that Trump does not have a mandate. He did not win the popular vote, and he certainly does not have a mandate to govern people of color in this country.

What does it mean to assert that Trump does not have the right to govern people of color? What steps are you taking to challenge Trump?
Well, we're starting with these mobilizations. We're asking people to take a pledge to take ongoing action [against Trump] in the first 100 days [of his presidency] and beyond. There's a network of activists and women of color-led organizations that are continuing to move forward with our agenda for equality.

Fifty-three percent of white women voted for Trump. There's a lot of education that needs to happen.

We are also working with our white women allies, which is important because it's no secret that this vote was divided along racial lines. We saw over 97 percent of women of color voting for a candidate who would have allowed us to continue our work to improve the lives of all people in this country, and we saw that white voters and white women were not with us. Fifty-three percent of white women voted for Trump. There's a lot of education that needs to happen in terms of how many people are actually voting against their own interests based on this radicalized fear that has come out of the Trump campaign and the GOP more broadly. They have very intentionally riled this up. They have riled up a fear of "economic insecurity" so that they can do what they have done for over 50 years, which is scapegoating and othering people of color and immigrants. In reality, the GOP has no intentions of addressing their constituents' economic concerns.

What role should white allies play in confronting racism? How can allies be a force for change without obscuring the voices of women of color?
It is not only critically important that white women be allies, but also that they also act as co-conspirators with us. The word "ally" is too shallow. What we really need are partners and collaborators. We need white women, white people, to be organizing each other. We have a saying: "Go get your cousin." Call in your family. Talk with them about why their own interests, and their broader humanity, is tied up with the well-being of people of color, survivors, and immigrants. We're all in this together. Race is a construct that was created to divide us and keep [people of color] out of power. Now more than ever, white people need to step up and organize in their own communities.

What is the most impactful thing individuals can do on a daily basis to resist the ideology of Trump's campaign?
It's time to get out of our houses and get out of our isolation. We need to talk to our communities and talk to each other. Democracy is not a bystander sport. We are being attacked and we're potentially moving into a fascist situation. We need to build a democracy that is inclusive and where women, people of color, and working class people can govern ourselves. That means working together to build a democracy that we have never actually had in this country.

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