Donald Trump's election as the 45th president of the United States on Nov. 8, 2016 embodies the psychopathologies of a racially polarized country and is likely to herald the rise of a new proto-fascism that will further exacerbate divides.
As hate crimes against marginalized communities soar to the hundreds in the wake of his victory, activists from various social movements have geared up to fight back.
In the days running up to Trump’s inauguration, much of this momentum is gathering steam and new initiatives continue to crop up.
teleSUR examines five of the key movements in the United States that have been re-energized — or have been reinvented — over the last two months.
1. The Sanctuary Campus Movement
From New York to California, the looming reality of a Trump presidency has emboldened cities to reaffirm their sanctuary city status — that is, spaces that protect undocumented immigrants. Within days of the election, universities and colleges jumped on board to label themselves “sanctuary campuses.”
The term "sanctuary campus" comes from the "sanctuary city" movement that emerged in the United States in the early 1980s in solidarity with Central American refugees fleeing war, and has seen a revival in recent years amid record levels of deportations of undocumented immigrants under the administration of President Barack Obama. Though specific sanctuary policies vary from city to city, cornerstones of the movement include a commitment to providing "access without fear" to local services and banning municipal institutions from sharing information with federal immigration authorities, effectively shielding undocumented immigrants from deportation without a warrant.
In November 2016, student activists across the country took to hoisting placards at rallies, signing petitions and sending letters to campus administrations to call on their institution to adopt a policy that would be more welcoming to undocumented students.
Santa Fe Community College declared itself a "sanctuary campus" in early December, a victory for the state that has the highest population of Latino residents in the United States. New York's Columbia University and Wesleyan University in Connecticut also announced plans to offer sanctuary and financial support to immigrant students.
Even Trump's alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania, renewed its commitment that month to block federal agents from deporting students.
The sanctuary movement continues to grow amid the numerous threats U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has made that will adversely affect the country's most marginalized communities, especially the threat that will impact undocumented students in particular: his plan to reverse the Obama immigration reform known as DACA, which grants temporary status to undocumented immigrants who arrived as children. Trump has also vowed to slash funding for sanctuary cities.
2. The 'Defend Science' Movement
Scientists, Indigenous leaders and allies rally in San Francisco against the attacks on climate science, Dec. 12, 2016. | Photo: Twitter / @greenpeaceusa
High on the list of threats posed by Trump have to do with his outright denial of climate change. In the wake of his election, scientists from all over the country and of different backgrounds mobilized to "defend science."
In the weeks before Trump’s inauguration, many joined to fervently copy U.S. climate data onto other servers out of fear that it will permanently disappear under his administration.
The frenetic efforts included a “guerilla archiving” event in Toronto that saw experts congregate to copy irreplaceable public data; gatherings at the University of Pennsylvania that focused on copying federal data, and the setting up of an online database for storing reams of valuable and vulnerable information, the Washington Post reported.
“There is a fine line between being paranoid and being prepared, and scientists are doing their best to be prepared,” Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the advocacy group Union of Concerned Scientists told media. “Scientists are right to preserve data and archive websites before those who want to dismantle federal climate change research programs storm the castle.”
In addition, soon after his Nov. 8 victory, 11,000 women scientists came together to pledge that they would commit “to build a more inclusive society and scientific enterprise.”
Another contingent of more than 800 Earth scientists, organized together by Geoffrey Supran, a climate scientist at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, sent a letter to Trump on climate policy.
An additional open letter sent to Trump organized by the Union of Concerned Scientists and signed by 2,300 scientists — including 22 Nobel prize winners — urged for “a strong and open culture of science” in the executive branch of government.
Some scientists have also taken their protests to the streets. In mid-December, researchers gathered for a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, where they held a rally and chanted, “ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has no agenda — it just melts!”
“People have felt a call to arms,” Adam Campbell, a researcher at Ross Ice Shelf of Antarctica said. “We need to be outspoken.”
3. The Feminist Pro-Choice Movement
Among his rotary of administration picks, many who are vehemently against allowing women to choose the option of abortion, Trump has also vowed to appoint an anti-choice Supreme Court justice who favors punishing women and abortion providers should abortion become illegal. Congress is also moving to defund the pro-choice organization Planned Parenthood.
As such, feminists across the country have risen to fight for reproductive justice. Rallies have taken place from Chicago to New York, with more planned in the coming weeks.
One woman in Columbus, Ohio, took to installing a pro-choice, anti-Trump billboard in her city.
Amanda Patton, the woman behind Pro-Choice Cats, a group that advocates for reproductive rights, raised funds to put up a billboard in downtown Columbus that poked fun at Trump.
“We all saw the video of Trump bragging about how he ‘grabs’ women ‘by the pussy’ and it became crystal clear that Trump’s disdain for women’s rights, bodily autonomy and pussies intersect in a horrifyingly organic way,” she told the Columbus Free Press.
“I knew for a really long time that I wanted this year’s billboards to focus on the upcoming election,” said Patton, “because access to abortion and comprehensive reproductive healthcare are under attack in Ohio and things will only get worse when Donald Trump and the Republican Party gain control of the country.”
Planned Parenthood itself has received a litany of support.
A charity show has been planned to raise funds for the organization, with the rapper Common to perform there.
The Beastie Boys’ Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz has also collaborated with Los Angeles vegan shoes and apparel company Keep to design a shoe where proceeds will go to Planned Parenthood.
"Net proceeds of this shoe will be donated to Planned Parenthood because I support a woman's right to choose and feel that women should not be punished for making decisions about their own lives and bodies. If you have similar beliefs, you might wanna grab a pair,” said Horovitz.
The progressive health organization has also reported an overall surge in donations and demand for long-acting contraceptives since Trump's election.
4. The Anti-Islamophobia Movement
Among the marginalized communities that received vitriol from the Trump presidential campaign, Muslims were high on the list.
As such, anti-Trump rallies and protests in the wake of the election have specifically seen chants against Islamophobia.
“Islam Is Not Terrorism,” “No to Trump,” “No to Racism and Fascism,” and “No to Islamophobia” were the messages at a November rally in Washington, D.C.
“We’re here today because of all the hate messages that Trump has been saying. Like, talking about Muslims as being terrorists, wanting to start a registry, talking about Mexicans as being criminals, and rapists. Really offensive things about women as well,” one of the rally’s organizers told the media outlet Tasnim at the time.
Perhaps one of the biggest victories for Muslims in the United States to occur as of late was the dismantling of the Bush-era registry program called the National Security Entry-Exit Registration System, or NSEERS. After 14 years of almost constant organizing, activists celebrated the dismantling of the dormant “special registration” program that targeted migrants from Muslim majority countries in the wake of the U.S. 9/11 attacks.
While the program was suspended in 2011, calls for Obama to fully dismantle the program have grown since the election of Trump, whose campaign promises to ban Muslims from entering the country and his potential revival of internment camps similar to those used during World War II against Japanese-Americans, were widely condemned as explicitly Islamophobic.
Many credited Obama’s decision to the work of New York City-based grassroots organization Desis Rising Up and Moving, DRUM.
However, DRUM also suggested that the fight against Trump’s Islamophobic policies continues.
“Just because a future program may not mention Muslims specifically, just as NSEERS did not, does not mean that Muslim communities are not at risk,” wrote DRUM executive director Fahd Ahmed.
Organizers have also been calling on the tech industry to take a stand. A number of civil society organizations banded to send call outs to companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Google and IBM to “ensure their resources are not used to support bigotry and discrimination.” While most companies did not respond, Twitter pledged to abstain from any creation of a Muslim registry. Individual employees at major tech companies have also pledged their personal refusal to help build any such future registry.
5. The LGBTQ Movement
LGBT citizens across the country have also joined anti-Trump rallies since the election, what with Trump’s Cabinet full of officials who harbor homophobic opinions.
Many toted Pride flags at demonstrations from New York to Los Angeles, Chicago to Portland. Many of these demonstrators have largely expressed concerns about the state of gay marriage in the country under a Trump presidency.
"My wife is on my insurance, and I'm the single income earner right now," Kimberly Patterson, a nurse, told NBC OUT while attending a rally in New York. "If I were to die, she might lose her right to my estate and my social security and everything. What is she going to do? If our right to marriage is overturned by the Supreme Court, she may end up with nothing."
Major LGBTQ organizations in the country have also banded to call out people that Trump has selected to be in his administration, citing they will be particularly detrimental to advancing the rights of queer and trans people.
One such target of concern for these organizations has been Senator Jeff Sessions.
“Senator Jeff Session’s long track record reveals a politician who is transparently and vehemently against LGBTQ people, immigrants and people of color. This is the person who said the KKK is ‘okay.’ Well having someone like that as attorney general isn’t ‘okay.’
"President-elect Trump’s notorious comments about Mexicans, Muslims and people of color during the election campaign emerge from a mindset that Mr. Sessions represents. He was rejected by the Senate for a federal judgeship in the past because of his bigoted views. He hasn’t changed — and he shouldn’t be nominated nor confirmed,” said Rea Carey, Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund.
The Human Rights Campaign also issued a statement against Sessions.
“It is deeply disturbing that Jeff Sessions, who has such a clear animus against so many Americans — including the LGBTQ community, women and people of color — could be charged with running the very system of justice designed to protect them,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.
Many LGBT organizations, however, unfortunately have had to be more reactive than proactive in the wake of Trump’s victory, responding to concerned queer and trans people across the country.
Just a half-day after Trump was named president-elect, calls to LGBTQ hotlines spiked dramatically, with some reporting record-breaking numbers.
Traffic to the Trevor Project, a crisis hotline for queer and trans people, doubled in November.
"Young people have been reaching out more and more since the election," deputy executive director Steve Mendelsohn told Mic. "They're very anxious and frightened. They have a fear that the gains we've made over the past few years could be undone."
The crisis line has had to field more volunteers to work the hotline since.
Over at Trans Lifeline, 300 calls were answered one day after the election, a number that for them was “record-breaking.”
Yet another hotline, the Crisis Text Line, said their call volume traffic doubled on Election Day and into the day after, reporting that “the words 'election' and 'scared' are the top two things being mentioned" and "the most common association with 'scared' was 'LGBTQ.'"