Sunaina Tirpathy, 45, entrepreneur, California
I live in Fremont, California which with its 55 electoral college votes voted Democrat this election. When the spectre of a Trump presidency became a reality, I consoled myself that eternally Democrat California would weather the Trump effect better than others. I was so wrong. On November 10, my Caucasian neighbour asked me if I was “legal.” I thought she was concerned about the rhetoric and said I was “good.” A few days later she asked me if my bags were packed yet. For the next hour or so, we proceeded to have a curt and bordering-on-civil conversation about my rights as an American. I never thought I would have to defend my birthright in this country. I might have reacted with more patience had news of another threat against a woman from the desi community had not reached me earlier.
I returned home shaken by the news of how Solonika Pancholy, an Indian -American woman hiking in Fremont wearing a headscarf had her car vandalised and found a note which assumed her scarf was a hijab. Apparently, the note said, among other things, “…this is our nation now. Get out.” My parents were first-generation immigrants and moved here two decades ago. The same evening, I heard on the radio that a Taiwanese Christian church’s community centre in my neighbourhood was vandalised with swastikas.
My neighbour’s passive aggressive racial profiling and the incidents that came to light have made me very nervous. I fight not to give in to fear and wonder what it must be like for minorities in the Republican states. It makes me wonder what my life will be like for the next years in the only country I have ever truly known as home. In the last three weeks, I have had more conversations and persuasive debates with American friends than I have had in my whole life. And for the first time ever, I have installed security cameras in my home, because I feel the bubble I lived in called Democratic California, with its spike in hate crimes has finally burst. But I guess that was bound to happen. Because we now have a presidency that believes being anti-gay and anti-minority is the only way to make the majority believe it is an effective one. Until sanity of some kind returns, I will do what I have never done thus far — watch my back.
— As told to Farwa Imam Ali