The end is nigh.
We only have two days until the Inauguration. The brief lull of media coverage about Trump is over. Trump has recently made it clear that he will make it his top priority to gut the Affordable Care Act, restrict women’s access to reproductive health services and implement policies that will disproportionately affect immigrants.
Although there are only so many hours before the president-elect discards the “elect,” I strongly believe that many of us need to take necessary precautions to prepare for Trump’s presidency. I’ve read articles suggesting transgender people update or apply for a passport, undocumented immigrants renew Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and green cards, uninsured people apply for health insurance and that LGBTQ+ people should apply for asylum and protect their relationships with their children. I also personally think that women should seriously consider getting a long-term contraceptive like an intrauterine device if they do not plan on getting pregnant in the near future.
But these are concrete, immediate preparations — dumping buckets of water overboard rather than securing the lifeboats. More broadly, we must also consider how we will create a social movement to prevent the rise of hate-driven politics in America.
As Yale students, it is often hard for many us to reckon with the realities of this presidency. For example, in an interview earlier this week with Conan O’Brien, Van Jones LAW ’93 said, “I spent my twenties in a drug infested den of crime and inequity — Yale University.” His quip is endearing, a joke made from privilege and self-awareness. Here, despite the prevalence of drugs, we face almost no legal repercussions for usage. Not so for the wider New Haven community, who cannot bypass the law on privilege and prestige alone. How — from this vantage point — can we begin to understand and combat inequalities in America as a whole?
Many liberals often question how it was possible for Trump to win. What they should question is the effects racist drug laws and voting restrictions have on minority access to voting. It is difficult to combat systemic oppression when we espouse liberal values without making the effort to campaign for more radical changes to our society.
There are certainly those of us who experience marginalization on this campus; the protests surrounding the naming of Calhoun College proved that. However, Yale remains extremely affluent. According to a survey taken by the News last September, a little less than one third of incoming freshmen came from families that received a yearly income of $250,000 or more. Moreover, the Yale Investments Office claims that the endowment totaled $25.4 billion on June 30, 2016, making it the largest growing endowment for the 2016 fiscal year according to Bloomberg News. When we go into the dining halls, it is quite easy to find black workers on campus, although this diversity doesn’t apply to tenured professorships. What does that say about race on campus — and off?
There are ways for us, both individually and as a community, to make change. However, the larger scale societal changes we want to see will most likely remain a pipe dream unless we do things to actively combat Trump’s policies. Stop blaming the results of the election on Russia, Hispanics who didn’t vote or millennial voters. Instead, liberals need to stop making concessions to corporate America and start paying attention to the needs of the American people.
In order to make any progress in addressing poverty and inequality, we need to consider the ways in which we perpetuate the racism, sexism, and classism that contributed to the outcome of this election. According to a study done by the University of Minnesota in 2015, metropolitan areas in Connecticut like New Haven have extremely “racially concentrated affluence.” A substantial segment of the population is exposed to “extremely high rates of poverty.” Yale’s liberalism rings hollow if we continue to let people in surrounding areas live in squalor. Although many of us appear distressed about the current state of American politics, we seldom act in ways that sacrifice our own privileges for the sake of the larger community. A key part of social change requires some sacrifice, and this will have to extend beyond “acknowledging our privilege” and roundtable discussions. It’s time to come out of the cave of inequity.
Isis Davis-Marks is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College. Her column runs on alternate Thursdays. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .