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After the election: Where do we go from here?

News & Commentary  |  By Dina El-Rifai, Nov 9, 2016

A rally calling for welcoming refugees in New Hampshire. 

Photo: AFSC / Arnie Alpert

I am an immigrant. I am a Muslim. I am a woman. Each piece of my identity has been picked apart, threatened, alienated, and attacked during these incredibly long several months that have led up to this election. Each piece of me now needs to heal. Just as each marginalized piece of our country needs to heal.

Black. Mexican. Muslim. Native American. Woman. Latinx. Immigrant. Refugee. Differently abled. Jewish. LGBTQ. This election season has been exhausting. As millions of people buzz about the election results and about America’s new president, many will forget about you—the communities that have been attacked, tokenized, propped up, pushed down, and picked apart in the race for the White House. This piece is about and for you.

You who desperately wished to be humanized but instead were objectified, pathologized, degraded, and ruthlessly spoken of like specimen and pawns during debates between candidates who never really stopped long enough to listen to your community. You who has a target on your back and carefully calculates your every move every day because of the color of your skin. You, the indigenous people, who continue to be violated, attacked, and stripped of what you are wholly entitled to and what is yours. You who refuses to be a pawn in “war on terror” and “war on drugs” policies that have targeted, surveilled, occupied, detained, incarcerated, and killed entire communities of color here and abroad. You without clean water. You who had to disconnect from media when the Trump Tapes were released because sexual assault hits too close to home. You seeking to be validated by a society that refuses to recognize your identity, your experiences, your traumas, your needs, or your humanity. You who have already experienced the violence caused by the xenophobic policies implemented under the current administration and perpetuated on the campaign trail this election season.”

In North Carolina, participants in the annual Moral March on Raleigh HKonJ People's Assembly. Photo:AFSC/Lori Fernald Khamala

Audre Lorde, Black feminist and social activist said “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.”

This is your time. This is your time to support your community, to organize, to invest in yourselves. Own the agency and power of your community. Influencing change does not begin and end with the election season. This is our time to uplift our communities.

With President Obama still in office until January, this is the time for communities to mobilize, organize community forums, and put pressure on Obama to do more before he leaves office. Let us call on him to reverse his increased detention and deportation policies that tear communities apart.

People in Denver accompany a fellow community member, Manuel, to a court hearing on his immigration status. Photo: AFSC/Gabriela Flora

This is our time to advocate for humane policies, including immigration reform that promotes healing and centers the dignity and worth of each person. This is our time to mobilize against Republican and Democratic policies that support detention, deportation, militarization of law enforcement, and the destruction of communities of color.

Come January, it is up to us to hold the new president responsible and accountable. It is up to us to create a movement and to change the dominant culture and narrative. To demand that it is more important for our communities to be invested in than for communities abroad to be droned and destroyed. To demand that the new administration reject racist policies that perpetuate racial and social control of our communities. To demand policies that center humanity, equality, and justice for all people. Build coalitions, identify community needs, and amplify.

Our communities deserve to heal. With healing, with love, with solidarity, will come justice and liberation.

About the Author

Dina El-Rifai works with AFSC's Communities Against Islamophobia project. She has also served as Public Policy Fellow in AFSC's Office of Public Policy and Advocacy in Washington, D.C.

 

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