America’s President-Elect is anti-Islam, racist, misogynistic, and against the rights of the LGBTQ community. He retaliated against the parents of a Muslim U.S. Army officer who died while serving in the Iraq War. When the officer’s mother didn’t speak while on screen Trump insinuated that perhaps it was due to a constraint by the Muslim faith. She responded that she didn’t speak because of grief for her son. Trump implied that someone was incapable of his job because of his race when he said that Gonzalo Curiel, the federal judge presiding over a class action against the for-profit Trump University, could not fairly judge because of his Mexican heritage. The Trump Management Corporation was sued by The Justice Department in 1973 for alleged racial discrimination against black people searching for property – because the company wrongly told black people apartments weren’t available. And at a recent campaign rally in Alabama Trump supporters physically attacked a black protestor chanting “Black Lives Matter.” Trump responded with, “Maybe [the protester] should have been roughed up” and “It was absolutely disgusting what he was doing.” Trump has called women ‘fat pigs’, ‘dogs’, ‘slobs’, and ‘disgusting animals,” even calling Fox News host Megyn Kelly a “bimbo” when he didn’t recognize remarks she was referencing. He has consistently been against marriage equality and has appointed Mike Pence as Vice President-Elect, who believes in conversion therapy and signed a bill to allow businesses to discriminate and deny service to LGBTQ individuals. These accounts are terrifying, and what’s worse is that they’re only the tip of the iceberg.
Trump’s new position has legitimized anti-Islam, racist, sexist, and anti-LGBTQ behavior. It’s got people saying and doing ugly things to others a lot more than before Trump entered the public eye and before he became president-elect. The Southern Poverty Law Center has collected 437 reports of hateful intimidation and harassment between Wednesday, November 9, the day after the presidential election and Monday, November 14. The Southern Poverty Law Center describes:
“Most of the reports involved anti-immigrant incidents (136), followed by anti-black (89) and anti-LGBT (43). Some reports (8) included multiple categories like anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant. The “Trump” category (41) refers to incidents where there was no clear defined target, like the pro-Trump vandalism of a “unity” sign in Connecticut. We also collected 20 reports of anti-Trump intimidation and harassment.”
THIS IS NOT OKAY. THIS IS NOT NORMAL. THIS IS DISGUSTING. AND IT NEEDS TO STOP.
Complacency is no longer an option. We need to try harder than before. We need to stand up to the bullying the moment it happens around us, whether it’s in class, on campus, at a restaurant, on the street, in our own families, anywhere. We need to donate either time or money or skills, or all three, or a variation of the three to help mitigate this shit. And, as theatre artists, we’ve got lots of work to do. Today’s America is begging that artists reveal people’s humanity to others. I fundamentally believe that theatre has the power to unveil humanness to other humans. The American theatre community’s playwrights need to continue writing pieces that help audiences today feel less threatened by “the other.” Organizations and theatres need to dedicate more time and money to the birth of these kinds of works. Casting directors and others involved in casting decisions need to put more black actors, Latinx, Asian-American actors, women, and hijab-wearing women in positions of authority on stage. Our artistic choices have SO MUCH STAKE. Instead of ‘serving the text’ our artistic choices need to serve all people, no matter their color, heritage, sex, creed, or who they love.