I never wanted to admit that I’m scared the color of my skin could get me killed.
But everything changed with Trump. I was scared when he became president. I was scared when Dylann Roof opened fire at innocent black churchgoers. Would someone one day decide to go into my grandmother’s church and do the same thing?
I was scared when the events of Charlottesville began to unravel for two days. I live in the south, where white nationalist and KKK groups are more commonplace than up north. Who’s to say that an event like this couldn’t happen where I live?
And then, on Friday night, 50 innocent Muslim lives were taken while in their place of worship. I immediately went into a panic attack.
Now you might be wondering why this last attack has me so worried. This particular terrorist targeted Muslims, and I’m not Muslim. So this has nothing to do with me, right? Wrong. He left behind and eighty-page manifesto full of anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric. He did this to let every Muslim, black, brown, Asian, Latinx, or anyone that fits into the “other” box know that they are not safe.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and New Zealand have banded together after this terrorist attack in a way that I wish America would. They’ve let their Muslim population know that they are loved and that New Zealand is there home. It took them 24 hours to announce they were working on gun reform. How many more mass shootings does America need to have before something is done?
To some people, my anxieties may seem like an overreaction. But I remember the words of people who had an “it is what is” attitude when Trump won. They said there was nothing that we could do about it, that we would just have to wait out the four years. And that people who were scared had no reason to be. Nothing bad was going to happen to them.
But bad things are happening. It’s easy to say there’s nothing to worry about when you’re not the target. Trump can say all he wants that he doesn’t see a rise in white supremacy, even though news of hate crimes and mass murders grow more and more.
Since he doesn’t want to condemn it, racists are going to continue to be emboldened. They will continue to harm anyone who doesn’t fit into their idea of perfection. Minorities will continue to get harassed and killed. I will continue to be scared. But I’m finally ready to turn that fear into action.
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Alysia Stevenson is a twenty-seven New York City transplant currently living in Florida with her boyfriend and three furbabies. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching beauty tutorials on Youtube or Parks and Rec for the millionth time.