Donald Trump won the presidency. Now, millions of the people who will be most affected by a Trump administration are making plans to keep themselves safe.
Tuesday night, as election results began to roll in, my friends and family members shared their disbelief as a majority of electoral college votes went to Donald Trump—a man who, in 2016, had the endorsement of the Ku Klux Klan. In phone calls, text threads, and face-to-face conversations, they began the process of collective mourning, laced with a grave thought: what now?
It is not hyperbole to say that Trump’s stated policy proposals—especially combined with the draconian cuts to the social safety net that the newly re-elected Speaker Paul Ryan has been seeking for years under the Obama Administration—will produce suffering, harm, and worse for millions of Americans when enacted.
And so, people are making plans. Friends are reapplying for visas that may not be renewed under the new administration, anticipating and planning for the loss of their health insurance as the Obama Administration’s wall of protection around the Affordable Care Act falls.
They have heard Trump’s words on the Supreme Court, and are asking for advice on methods of long acting birth control and nervously considering what it means to be newly pregnant, or in need of an abortion, at this moment in our nation's history. LGBTQ friends are scared for the legitimacy of their marriages, and what a Trump-appointed Supreme Court would mean for their children, less than two short years after Obergefell v. Hodges affirmed the right to same-sex marriage.
"I both no longer know if I'll have kids, and no longer know if it will be a choice," one friend wrote to me.
"If you don't have an IUD right now, and you're not trying to have kids, maybe make that call and get an appointment," another said.
These friends are scared for their safety in their own communities and across state lines after Trump’s fevered “law and order” declarations, and his laundry list of pledges: To make unconstitutional and racist policing federal law. To ban sanctuary cities and enact a campaign of mass deportations that will tear families apart and send people who fled poverty and violence back to the source of that terror. To ossify xenophobia and Islamophobia in our culture through hateful rhetoric, a ban on Muslim immigration (whatever form it ultimately takes), and by spouting racist fantasies about terrorists next door.
"I'm scared of being assaulted, I'm scared of this racist language," another friend of color wrote me after Pennsylvania was called for Trump. "I'm scared I'll get targeted in airports. I'm afraid I won't have a right to my body anymore."
"I'm afraid to leave progressive cities," said another friend, a reporter of color who has been receiving racist threats throughout the campaign. "And even there now I'm scared."
The list of fears is still so incomplete. The potential for degradation, for actual danger, under a Trump Administration may not be known for months. Still, in the early hours of Wednesday morning, millions of people in this country mourned, paralyzed in disbelief, having gotten sad confirmation of what they already suspected about the racism that runs deep in America's bones.
There will be resistance movements, and progressive coalitions to be built in opposition to Trump's presidency, that may help to find answers about their routes to self-preservation. But in the immediate aftermath of Trump's stunning upset, people of color, Muslim people, women, immigrants—my friends, family, and strangers—are considering how the material conditions of their lives will change. And they're making plans.