First, one of my professors leaned on me. During class I could see that she was struggling. I waited after class until everyone else had left and said, “You okay? You look like you could use a hug.” She broke. I held her. We had an intense moment together while she told me about her family and her heritage and the ways this election not only puts her at risk, but also tells her pretty explicitly that there are millions of people who don’t value her life. We connected in a way we hadn’t before – she’s always kept herself aloof. I shared my fears, and my determination to be a better ally, to offer support and comfort and aid whenever I could, in whatever ways I could.
Then, I went to a shop on the hill to get some supplies before my next class. The woman behind the counter was Asian. We started talking and when I told her that I was upset and ashamed about the way the election went, she confessed her fears, and those of her children. She wept when I held her hand and looked her in the eye to tell her that I was glad she was here, that her children were here and to promise them that I was fighting for them, and would continue to fight for their safety and their right to be here. I assured her that she is not alone. We hugged.
There were other smaller events, smaller moments of connection, moments where I saw someone hurting and made my allyship explicit and told them in no uncertain terms that I had their back, that I would work and fight and do everything in my power to keep them and those they love from harm, and that I was not alone in this effort.
Friends, again, I ask you – stand up, speak up, reach out – protect those who are feeling abandoned by their nation, who feel threatened not just by this president, but by the people who voted him into office. Recognize their fear, and offer them support.
I see people asking what the big deal is, I’ve seen and heard people joking about deportation… This is not a joke, this is not a drill. During this campaign people were threatened in direct and explicit terms, and the person who threatened them is now our president-elect.
Feel that. What would you need in order to feel safe in that environment? Offer that. Exude that. Being an ally requires action, it requires compassion, it requires letting your guard down enough to see, and it requires owning that fixing this mess is our job.
Let’s get to work.