I like to think that as a nation we are progressing toward tolerance and equality, and I like to think that millennials have something to do with that. We are the young, diverse generation that can look past race and gender and focus on more important issues, like climate change.
Donald Trump’s presidency, however, has the potential to delay social issues, particularly regarding race and gender.
When that Supreme Court seat is filled, there’s a chance that women’s reproductive rights will be a thing of the past. Trump fully intends to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat with a pro-life judge, giving the Supreme Court a conservative 5-4 lean.
Some speculate that Chief Justice John G. Roberts is unlikely to overturn Roe v. Wade, but future Supreme Court justices will be appointed by Trump so that conservative lean could increase. If that were the case, abortion rights could be stripped, gay marriage could be banned and who knows what would happen to transgender rights.
Immigrant families could be torn apart; Trump’s first priority throughout his campaign was the deportation of Mexican immigrants. He plans to deport 2 to 3 million “criminal” immigrants, which would require enormous federal funds in addition to aggressive detainment policies. Families could be separated, and peaceful immigrants seeking refuge from Mexico or Latin America would be forced back into dangerous environments.
It has only been 10 days, but Muslim-Americans have already felt the impact of normalized Islamophobia. The day after Trump’s victory, two women reported attacks on college campuses — one of the women was choked with her hijab. Earlier this week on the University of Michigan’s campus, a woman was told to remove her hijab or she’d be set on fire.
I don’t agree with Trump’s policies, and I’m not saying those who do are evil or immoral. However, Trump has normalized Islamophobia, demonized immigrants and proven plenty of times that he does not respect the rights of women. That paves the way for his radical supporters to lash out violently at these minorities, and there’s already empirical evidence of that.
All of these forms of bigotry sharply contrast the viewpoint of millennials. The younger generation is more inclusive of women and minorities than any other generation before, but political apathy has prevented their voice in defining election results.
Research shows that millennials aren’t nearly as politically active as older generations, even though we make up almost a third of voters, according to the Pew Research Center. In the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, only 50 percent of adults ages 18-29 voted.
This is typical voter turnout for young people, and it never mattered all that much. Until now, that is, because this wasn’t Obama versus Romney; this was Hillary Clinton versus Donald Trump and his undying support from the alt-right and white nationalist groups.
It matters now. Young people can, and are, doing something about it. Across the nation, protests have been staged on college campuses, demonstrating disapproval of the President-elect’s policies and rhetoric. High school students in L.A. and New York City walked out of school in protest.
Trump has, if nothing else, ignited the passion of those advocating for tolerance and peace. The indifference of young people to politics has dissipated it seems, and that’s the only way to counter Trump’s agenda.
We need to be well-informed, we need to be engaged in the political process if we preach tolerance and acceptance and we need to show support for those who will be most affected by whatever the future holds.
Pay attention, protest, engage in the political process, be conscious of your privilege and don’t allow others to suffer because they don’t yet have it. If you believe in equality for people of any race, ethnicity, gender or sexuality, help them achieve it. We’re not powerless against this.