In the Shadow of Last Week’s Election Results

unnamedWhen President Obama was elected, many declared the U.S. would finally become a post-racial society.

It was an optimistic thought, but one that many of us hoped and believed could soon be true. In the years since 2008, our work at CUE to inform and teach the value of equity in education was greeted with interest and enthusiasm. Even among those for whom the concept was difficult to fully embrace, equity’s importance was clear. It felt recently as though we were truly turning a corner.

And so I never believed that Donald Trump would become our 45th President. The list of bigoted, racist, and misogynistic statements made by this man is familiar to us all, its sickening tenor a constant in the media’s reporting. His kind of thinking seemed impossibly out of step with where I believed we’d advanced as a society.

Sadly, I was wrong. Many of us were.

The bigotry that Trump so openly espoused during his campaign is now giving license to racists, xenophobes, and misogynists to bully and terrorize vulnerable populations with acts of hate across the country, including college campuses. Trump’s election has emboldened extremists, and their empowerment threatens not only immigrants and non-whites, but all of us whose religions, sexual orientations, cultures, and languages are not his.

As I consider our work at CUE, I’m concerned that policymakers who have privately questioned the value of equity will now feel that Trump has given them license to reject race-conscious practices. They may foolishly believe that the public is against equity, and that advancing an equity agenda is dangerous. We are already seeing a sharp rise in hate acts reported since Trump’s election.

But we have never been deterred by ignorance and racism, and we won’t be now. We must remember that bullies are cowards. That extremists are the minority. That random acts of hate are the craven results of misdirected fear.

We must unite in our belief that we can continue moving this country forward if we work together to stand against those who would drag us backward. For our goal is to Make America Just.

This is the fight we face together, and despite the confusion and shock I know we all feel, I also know that we will not back down.

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Estela M Bensimon
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