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How to fight for positive change during a Trump presidency

On this day, my heart breaks for the dream of a female president. My heart breaks for the dream of a president who supports racial equality, immigration reform and reproductive rights. Unfortunately, we learned that large portions of our population feel threatened by our country’s recent steps towards equality. This election has shifted the tide of positive change backwards in the presidency, the legislature and likely in the Supreme Court. But this setback does not mean that all hope is lost. Millions of Americans are outraged by the election of Donald Trump as our president, and the tragedy of this election can energize them to organize against him. Hopefully, the American people can organize to minimize the harmful effects that a Trump presidency can have on our government and our lives.

One of the key issues the anti-Trump organizers focus on is immigration. Trump’s promises to build a wall on the Mexican border and to deport undocumented people currently living in the U.S. are terrifying for Latinx people and immigrants. Many people are terrified that they or their families will be deported. Luckily, it is extremely unlikely that the wall will actually be built. However, deportations have already increased massively under the Obama presidency and could easily increase even more under Trump.

There is still a lot that individuals can do to fight anti-immigrant bigotry. Many immigration policies are statewide rather than national, so it is essential for immigration activists to organize in their home states. If you live near the border, pay close attention to elections for governors and state legislators, and help campaign for candidates who have progressive views about immigration. There are also many advocacy groups and organizations fighting for immigrants’ rights to which concerned citizens can donate their time or money. The ACLU frequently campaigns for the rights of immigrants. Recently, the ACLU of Southern California defended children who were facing deportation and released a report detailing the deportations of veterans. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund advocates for the the civil rights of U.S. Latinx people and awards law school scholarships to Latinx students. The National Council of La Raza is a massive organization that advocates for Latinx issues from civil rights and education to immigration reform and voting rights. All of these organizations accept financial donations and take volunteers.

Another concern of anti-Trump Americans is reproductive rights. Mike Pence, as governor of Indiana, absolutely gutted his state’s reproductive rights policies. Indiana, like many other red states, is infamous for its litany of ridiculous laws aimed at making it impossible for abortion clinics to function. Under Pence’s governorship, a woman named Purvi Patel was sentenced to 20 years in jail after a botched abortion attempt led her to miscarry. Trump recently removed “pro-life” from his public political platform, which is good, but not particularly heartening given that the Senate and House are both Republican. People who live in Massachusetts and other blue states are relatively privileged in terms of this issue. Abortion in states like Massachusetts is accessible, at least in comparison to states in the South and middle America. However, those who wish to advocate for reproductive rights have many initiatives and organizations to choose from.

Brandeis Pro-Choice is an on-campus organization that promotes reproductive rights in the Boston area. If you want to join them in their efforts, you can sign up for their listserv or email club leaders. NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts is our state’s branch of a massive pro-choice organization that exerts influence nationwide. NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts has its headquarters in Boston, and it accepts donations and offers jobs and internships. If you are registered in a state where abortion issues are contentious, it is extremely important that you vote in local and state elections. While Roe v. Wade applies federally, the reality of abortion access is that it varies hugely based on local and state governments. Your vote could make a massive difference for the reproductive rights of people in your home state.

Issues related to racial equality for African Americans are also central in this election. The Black Lives Matter movement has brought national attention to mass incarceration and discriminatory police practices. Trump and his supporters use “law and order” rhetoric that is indicative of support for mass incarceration and violent policing. However, many legal associations and organizations are fighting for the rights of African Americans.

Firstly, it is important for anti-Trump Brandeis students to participate in the Black Lives Matter movement here at Brandeis, as well as in the Boston area. It is also important that students vote in their home states against “law and order” candidates, and that they vote for propositions that could decrease criminal penalties for nonviolent crimes, promote police accountability and improve prison conditions. You can also donate your time or money to the NAACP or the National Black Justice Commission, an organization focused on black LGBT+ issues.

Another population that is particularly threatened by Mike Pence is the LGBT community. Fortunately, there isn’t a whole lot that a Republican president or Congress can do to overturn the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. However, the issues of “gay conversion therapy,” anti-LGBT+ discrimination and the recognition of trans people are still very much under threat. LGBT+ issues are also controlled primarily by state and local governments. This means that voters need to focus on elections in their home state, voting for candidates that support LGBT+ communities. Brandeis’ Trisk and the Queer Policy Alliance are both on-campus clubs that promote LGBT+ issues. BAGLY, a Boston LGBT+ youth organization accepts donations and hires volunteers. GLAD, an LGBT+ legal advocacy organization, has a headquarters in Boston and accepts donations and volunteers.

It is also important that white students talk to their families and communities about their views. According to CNN, 63 percent of white men and 53 percent of white women voted for Trump. This means that a majority of the white American population shares, or is at least willing to tolerate, Trump’s bigoted views. This obviously needs to change. While organizations and advocacy groups are essential in the political fight for equality, minds are usually changed on the person-to-person level. White Brandeis students, even if they might have personally voted for Clinton, need to realize that they have a moral responsibility to talk to other white people about the politics of racial, LGBT+, immigration and gender issues.

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