Disclaimer: this is long! You won’t read it in a day, but if you commit to reading consistently, you will make your way through it!
On Wednesday, November 9, many of us woke up shocked. Many young people felt robbed of what little idealism about this country they had left. Many older white folks felt confused, or like the country they had lived in their whole lives was maybe not what they thought it was. Others clung to their belief that America is still a fundamentally good country, slowly but surely moving in the right direction. They said: “Not all Donald Trump’s supporters believe in his racist rhetoric. We need to humanize the angry white working class.” And this, perhaps, isn’t wrong. Perhaps they were just fed up with the status quo. But you cannot selectively support a platform like this. Donald Trump’s election is a countrywide stamp of approval for his platform of hate and fear.
Now is the time to affirm our support for those whose lives are in danger. Bigots are not in fear for their lives because they are bigots. People of color are. A “difference of opinion” is how you like your coffee, or debates over trade and economic policy. Opinions that dehumanize others, that incite violence against them, cannot be treated as merely “opinions.” They must be called what they are: bigotry.
Others have looked for solace by saying to themselves and those around them: “We will be fine.” And, for the most part, well-off, older white folks will be fine. But that doesn’t mean many, many Americans will be. Many already aren’t. Hate crimes are on the rise. Newt Gingrich has expressed his intent to create another House Un-American Activities Committee. Many undocumented immigrants fear deportation. Muslim women and other women of color fear leaving their homes. Marginalized communities fear there will be even less accountability for police brutality, for racist abuse at the hands of private and public institutions and individuals.
We need to be thinking about how we are thinking about this election. This sense of comfort, of insulation from the horrors of America, is precisely what this syllabus is meant to disrupt. We, white people, clearly weren’t listening hard enough to people of color, to women, to queer people, to immigrants, to Muslims, to anyone who holds a marginalized identity. This did not come as a shock to many marginalized people. Instead, as a friend of mine put it: “I am hurt but my hurt comes mainly from having my fears proven. Not from surprise. I am so angry because there are so many people who needed this result to prove to them the divide of this country instead of listening to the voices of their token friends. Instead of hearing. Instead of trusting.” Now is the time to hear. Now is the time to educate and propel that education into action.
Note: Many of these sources are not from traditional news media outlets. This is intentional, as those outlets often times only feature the most heard voices and partially got us into this mess in the first place. In an effort to unlearn systemic racism and understand how we ourselves are complicit, we have chosen a variety of forms of content on top of traditional news articles, including blog posts, scholarly articles, fiction books, movies. We have organized the material thematically and chronologically, so if you are overwhelmed with the length of the document, pick a couple from each section and then move on. I ask you to read through this syllabus with an open mind and heart. Thanks.