An open letter to Donald Trump supporters

Dear Trump Supporters,

Let me begin by congratulating you on a stunning victory after an unprecedented campaign that your candidate conducted for more than a year. Although I did not support Donald Trump, I have enough respect for the institution of democracy to accept the outcome of the elections with grace. Grace, yes, but complacency, no. Because Mr. Trump's hate rhetoric during the entire campaign was antipathetic to the values, morals, compassion, tolerance and decency that are at the very core of civilised human conduct.

I am pragmatic enough to realise that there is only one way we can move – forward. Ironically, the only way I can move forward is by reflecting backwards and seeking answers to some crucial questions. Questions that I will now face in the course of my daily life and those that affect the future of my children. I also need to understand where exactly I fit in this fierce, irrational, angry "hate movement" against Muslims, Latinos, women, African Americans and the LGBTQ people – a movement that, according to you, will make "America Great Again".

You may not feel obliged to answer my questions because "nothing succeeds like success!" But I hope you will appreciate that I represent the 47.8 percent "popular vote" that supported Secretary Hillary Clinton as compared to 47.3 percent of those who voted for President-elect Trump. Although I accept the skewed electoral process…which bypasses popular vote…my respect for the presidency does not automatically transfer to the man holding the office. Mr. Trump needs to demonstrate through concrete actions that he truly deserves my trust. Let's not forget that history is replete with examples where leaders have single-handedly destroyed the greatest institutions and trampled upon civil liberties with their extremist ideologies and authoritarian actions. Hence, here are my questions for you:

1. I am a woman, a minority and the mother of a daughter and the grandmother of a granddaughter. What recourse do we have when we face sexual and oral abuse in our workplace or any public space? How can the law defend us if your leader has disrespected women through his words and actions without ever being challenged? And all of you who voted for him have implicitly sanctioned his behaviour, thus sending a strong signal that respect for women in society is an inconsequential issue.

2. What do I tell my seven-year old grandson when he is bullied and ridiculed in school because he has a Muslim last name? Will the authorities protect him and take a stand despite the fact that Mr. Trump has painted all Muslims with a broad brush labelling them as terrorists or terrorist supporters and has vowed to ban Muslim immigration in America?

3. How will we cope with a situation where we are subjected to racial bias when seeking employment or otherwise? The newly elected leader was never held accountable for refusing to rent his apartments to potential black tenants (despite lawsuits by activists and organisations fighting for equal housing). Hence how can the legal system be expected to protect us from discrimination?

4. How do we obtain "affordable" medical care if we are refused health insurance because we have pre-conditions or are unemployed? You say that one reason you voted for Mr. Trump is because your premiums are going up and he has promised to repeal Obamacare. But I wonder how many of you will even be eligible for health insurance if Obamacare is repealed!

 5. What do we non-white people do when we are in a public place and a hate monger shouts: "Go back to where you came from?" (Btw, this happened to a friend's son). Will the law protect us despite the president elect's campaign slogans that minorities are lesser human beings (rapists, terrorists, criminals)?

6. As a conscious citizen of this country, I need to know how a Mexican minor girl born in the US and hence a citizen will survive when (as your candidate has promised) her parents are sent back because they are living in the twilight zone of "undocumented immigrants"?

Many of you are telling us immigrants who voted for Secretary Clinton that if we don't like it here, we should return to our country of origin. Fortunately, the Constitution does not allow anyone to force us to leave. And we are not going anywhere. We will cry, we will suffer depression and humiliation, but we will stay! And we will get out of our beds each morning, brace ourselves and resist bigotry and racism in peaceful, positive ways. We migrated to this country because of the promise of a fair, just, tolerant society that gives everyone equal rights as articulated in the Declaration of Independence. And unless the Constitution changes the promise still holds, since we have met our obligations as citizens.

While no one can guarantee equal outcomes, we must be assured of equal opportunities. When we walk out of our doors everyday and go about our business, we must be able to function without fear and apprehension. Only when Donald Trump demonstrates through words and actions that he will protect our rights as well, not just yours, can he become "President Trump" for all of us.


The writer is a renowned Rabindra Sangeet exponent and a former employee of the World Bank.


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