Identity

How Women of Color Plan to Cope at Work After Trump’s Win

by Sarah Hagi
Nov 11 2016, 9:05pm

Two things made clear during Donald Trump's election campaign were his stances on people of color and women. Throughout Trump's campaign, it's been revealed he once bragged about being able to get away with groping women; he's also been accused of sexual assault a dozen times. A former Miss Teen USA contestant claimed that a well-known fact about Trump is his hatred of black people, and his policies on immigration include building a wall between the United States and Mexico, as well as deporting all unauthorized immigrants. He has also gone on the record saying that having women in the workplace is "a very dangerous thing."

Despite fearing for their safety and wellbeing, most women of color still had to return to work the day after the election—with some returning to workplaces rife with Trump supporters and others having to quietly accept the fact that their co-workers have no qualms with the racist vitriol Trump's campaign has been spewing for the last year-and-a-half.

In their own words, women of color tell Broadly what they're doing to cope and continue to work, despite their feelings of anxiety and fear.

Jenny*, Assistant Editor

I am going to try to work from home as much as possible. My job involves a lot of coverage of things that are now almost painfully frivolous in light of everything else going on in the world, but I can compartmentalize enough to get the work done on autopilot.

What I can't do is watch everyone around me play the "broken spirit" card, when they're mostly white men and white women. I get that this is a disappointment for any right-thinking, left-leaning person, but a Trump presidency is a greater danger to people like myself.

I don't want to help them feel better, even if it's just to help put together a list of things that will take our minds off this crap. I am not trying to make any white people feel better right now.

Alex, Civil Engineer

I'm just understandably paranoid. [The civil engineering] industry is very supportive of Trump. They're mostly white, male, middle class, and many grew up in blue collar households or worked in the field. The industry itself supports Trump supposedly because of his "infrastructure plans." They seem him as pro-business and pro-building, and that means more jobs for us.

Even though I am very vocal about my anti-Trump sentiments everywhere, I don't feel comfortable sharing that in my workplace, and it has made me feel even more distrustful of my peers. I feel sick to my stomach knowing that they voted for him, knowing that they see me as a pest in this country and not as a descendant of the first people that inhabited this land.

I can't honestly say that I am coping that well, but I need to make money so I can't just stay home and cry. I also feel that if I stay home I'll show defeat, and I'm too proud for that.

My way of getting through the day is to text with loved ones. I'm carrying a picture of my grandmother, who committed suicide when my mom was five. She had a lot of mental health issues and lived at a time of huge unrest and a rising conservative government in the Dominican Republic. She makes me want to fight for those of us that are experiencing similar feelings now.

And as for dealing with my coworkers, I try to be numb. I don't want to make assumptions, but my body feels like a magnet that knows when there's trouble ahead. I just speak about work and move on.

Half of the country hated people like me. They hated gay people, they hated people of color, they hated me.

Sarah, Editorial Assistant

I have the rare privilege of working in an environment which is welcoming, inclusive, and most of all willing to listen to the needs of its employees who are minorities. As someone who grew up in a Muslim household in Middle America, I know that other women are not so lucky and they will be in my thoughts and prayers for the next four years.

My office does have a significant amount of representation in regards to the communities whom Trump has spoken out against. I am thankful for this and in the past few days many of us have shared our fears or exchanged glances in solidarity with one another and it truly does make all the difference. For now, I feel safe and supported at work. I've spoken to other colleagues who are people of color or members of the LGBTQ community and it's strangely comforting to hear that we are all worried and crushed but ready to step up and work against any impending discriminatory policies. Some of us have already spoken about action we'd like to take in our communities.

Lastly, I work as a journalist, and Trump's comments on both free speech and journalism are extremely concerning to me; I can only hope his future actions will not threaten my job or my field.

Sana, Entry Level Engineer

Basically, I work for a very small startup. There are a few vocal Trump supporters who are in all honesty very kind to me and have always gone out of their way to help me out. It is hard to listen to their horrible rhetoric and out-there ideas, and I don't understand how they wing that I'm taking money from these racists to put toward my future career in helping the marginalized access healthcare.

I'm also trying to put my spare time to use by figuring out how I can best use my talents and money to support those who need it most.

Jen, Sales Associate

I went to work in a complete daze [the day after the election]. I knew that Trump would beat Hillary, but the results still shocked me. Half of the country hated people like me. They hated gay people, they hated people of color, they hated me.

I work at the fragrance counter at a department store. I see dozens of new faces every day. I wanted to cry at them, "Do you see what is happening here?" I held my silly little scent cards in my hand, passing them out to people. They nod and smile say thank you, but inside I'm wondering how much they hate me.

[After work] I saw a young lady, in her early 20s, with two young boys in a giant wagon. She is Hispanic (so am I). I said, "Hello, how are you," as I do with everyone, and she begins unburdening herself to me. She tells me how she's afraid of the future... but I don't sense much fear through her monologue. She has this quiet reservoir of strength that is so apparent in her speech that I'm startled by it. In five minutes, this young lady reminded me that yes, our fears as people of color are justified, but we are strong. We can't give in now in the face of blatant hatred. I shook her hand and thanked her for our wonderful talk. I would have hugged her if I could. She helped me more than she knows.

*All names have been changed