Before November 8, I was a white, heterosexual, able-bodied male, Christian citizen of the United States of America.
Under a Donald Trump presidency, I feel it’s time to come out of the closet. I am a black, Hispanic, Asian, gay or transgender, disabled, Muslim and Jewish undocumented human.
Many don’t recognize the privilege they enjoy because of the way they were born. Nothing earned. Birth is like the lottery. In a culture of discrimination, some win, others don’t. It’s always been comfortable in Wyoming for those who are white, heterosexual, able-bodied male, Christian citizens of the United States of America. If you remove any one of those descriptors, it gets harder. Change any one of those descriptors and “the Equality State” betrays itself.
The LGBTQ community continues its struggle for civil rights as the legislature refuses to enact anti-discrimination legislation. Women fight an uphill battle for wage equality. Racial and religious minorities are denied the protection of a state hate crimes laws. People who have lived here since they were infants whose parents are undocumented are feeling the fear of what’s to come in the change of government. Most of the state’s gender, racial, sexual, and religious minorities, and immigrants face threats and the sting of bigotry that white, heterosexual, able-bodied male, Christian citizens of the United States of America do not.
It’s not coincidental that in the weeks following Trump’s election, hate crimes surged. According to the FBI, attacks on Muslims skyrocketed by two-thirds to the highest number since the days following 9/11. Attacks against transgender people have increased. The FBI says the numbers may actually be conservative because states like Wyoming don’t do a good job of tracking them and many of these crimes go unreported in states with no hate-crimes laws.
News outlets report a greater spike in hate crimes since the election including threats as well as assaults on people made even more vulnerable by the political rhetoric and behaviors of the man who will be President. There is little to be gained here by repeating some of the crude things Trump did and said during his campaign. But his transition from candidate to president demonstrates he meant every word.
As President-elect, he chose an anti-Semitic white nationalist as a top adviser. He appointed an Attorney General whose nomination to be a federal court judge was rejected by the U.S. Senate for his racist past. Cheering his election and these appointments were people like David Duke, a former Grand Wizzard of the KKK. His views about women and people with disabilities scarred the campaign. Some of those closest to the new president say they will implement a Third Reich kind of database to track Muslims.
Regardless of whether you voted for Trump or not, whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, you must seek to understand why minority communities of all sorts are fearful. But I realize that empathy is, unfortunately, in short supply these days.
Wyoming is a small, non-diverse state. Ninety percent of us are white. An even higher number are Christians. The Pew Hispanic Center believes there are fewer than 10,000 undocumented humans in the Cowboy State. Given the reputation Wyoming earned and never lost after the execution of Mathew Shepard, there are likely fewer gays, lesbians, bisexual or transgender people here than in many states.
That doesn’t make it any easier to watch the Trump administration take action which denies their worth to the community. In a small state, it should make it more difficult to ignore those actions. These are our friends, neighbors, and fellow workers.
We are them because we are all God’s children. When the government becomes big enough to threaten the rights of women, the disabled, immigrants or gays, lesbians, bisexuals, or transgender people or Muslims, they are coming after each of us.
For the next four years, those who follow Jesus, whether Christians or not, are indeed black, Hispanic, Asian, disabled, members of the LGBTQ community, Muslims, Jews and undocumented human beings.