Less than 48 hours after the polls closed, a wave of hate crimes against minorities has spread across the U.S., as many try to come to terms with what some described as a reactionary ‘whitelash.’
Like millions of immigrants, women, people with disabilities and others belonging to marginalized communities that were offended by Trump’s campaign rhetoric, members of minority groups in Halifax are experiencing the same sense of disappointment and dread.
Muasma Khan is the president of the Dalhousie Muslim Student Association and outreach and campaigns coordinator at the Equity and Accessibility office for the Dalhousie Student Union.
As a Halifax-born Muslim, she said she is “distraught” over the level of hatred, racism and Islamophobia that has emerged out of the U.S. presidential campaign.
“It’s only going to get worse. I live in Halifax and I deal with Islamophobia on the daily. People telling me ‘oh, please don’t bomb us’ when I’m walking down Spring Garden Road,” said Khan.
“I can’t imagine what it’s like to be an American Muslim right now.”
She said despite being born in Nova Scotia, she feels as though she has a literal target — a hijab — on her head every time she walks out her front door.
In December 2015, Trump called “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.”
Khan said she believes this sort of rhetoric and fear mongering against Muslim people has given people license to practise racism out in the open.
“Donald Trump has given these people the path to be like ‘I hate Muslims. Deal with it. I don’t think you belong here’.”
‘Within Canada we forget our past, our history of racism, our history of violence’
She said it’s foolish to think Canadians are unaffected by some of the political ideologies bubbling up from the south, adding issues of racism are not unique to the United States.
“I find it so common that within Canada we forget our past, our history of racism, our history of violence,” Khan said, alluding to the country’s dark history of residential schools.
“It’s something that we need to now work on because our next-door neighbours have failed.”
Pastor Kirby Spivey III is an America citizen living in Dartmouth. He said he fears discrimination, racial profiling and violence will only get worse throughout the course of Trump’s presidency.
“There has been a certain kind of political correctness. I think his political incorrectness is going to give people license. And not just in terms of police brutality, but just regular citizens being assaulted by other citizens.”
He said the campaign has left many people are feeling alienated in their own country.
“The language that Donald Trump used during the election insinuates that black lives don’t matter, women’s lives don’t matter, Muslim’s lives don’t matter, LGBTQ lives don’t matter. So many people have been put into a place of ‘you don’t matter’.”
And while Spivey said he does not believe that Trump will follow through with some of his more controversial promises, he is concerned about what his rhetoric may have evoked.
“We’re talking about Donald Trump. He did get a reaction out of people and even if he does change, the reaction in people will not,” Spivey said.
“That feeling, that hatred that has been untapped, that has been suppressed for so long, it has emerged and that is the fear I have for the United States.”
He said he hopes the country can come together to try and heal some of the wounds that have been created as a result of unprecedented divisiveness.
Zia Khan, imam at the Centre for Islamic Development in Halifax said in his opinion, the entire U.S. presidential election was nothing but a circus, a media feeding frenzy and a “decimation of the true essence of democracy.”
“People tend to watch TV for entertainment and by Trump acting in front of them has made them oblivious to the true nature of his venom. All this tells me is that America is paining,” said Khan.
“How can a man who has insulted so many segments of society become president and in return people do not feel pain and sadness?”
Khan said he does not buy Trump’s recent promise to represent all Americans, calling on them to “come together as one united people.”
“He is pernicious, even by his own account, to minorities. He is a xenophobe, he is a bigot, he is a degrader of women.”
He said he believes the entire US system is flawed in the sense that it exclusively facilitates the ascent to political office for those who are already rich and powerful.
“Trump did pander to the worst elements of human nature and Hillary frankly had a dismal record. It was the devil or the deep blue sea. I believe the people of the U.S. received the former.”