Whenever I attend service at almost any Jewish house of worship, I am met by police cruisers and off-duty police wearing bullet-proof vests. I’m so used to this, that I’ve forgotten it’s not the norm for most people. My husband had to point out how unnerving and scary of an experience it is for him while I’ve simply accepted it as matter of course. I forget that I am part of a group that has been historically targeted for hate crimes and currently is the group second most likely to experience reported hate crimes.
I’m not a visible minority. I can hide my minority status easily. I am not targeted by the police or followed around in stores. Candidates did not talk about banning me or sending me somewhere. And I’m still scared. I’m very scared for those who carry their minority status with them every day, whether in personal or public space. We live in a country experiencing a sharp increase in hate crimes. It’s not about “what if.” It’s about what already IS for minorities.
While I am afraid of potential legislative action, I am more afraid of the culture that has been validated by this election. The results might give people with certain beliefs the permission to unleash their worst selves. After all, the candidate elected won by unleashing his worst self. The belief that violence can solve problems and that certain groups of people are acceptable open targets has been validated for many people in this election. Take a look at who celebrated around the world on Election Night: the KKK and right wing extremist nationalist groups were among them.
You might think I am being too sensitive or histrionic. You might say that it was a long time ago when bricks were thrown through the window of my mother’s childhood home for displaying a menorah at Hanukkah. But it was only two years ago that the Jewish Community Center in Kansas City, where I attended and my nephews currently attend school, was the site for another shooting attacking religious minorities. And honestly, genocide tends to cast a very very long shadow.
This is why I don’t think it’s going to somehow be okay.