York minority community reacts to Trump presidency
When Carla Christopher got up Wednesday morning, the calls and text messages started flooding in.
Donald Trump had been announced as the next president of the United States. Friends checked up on her. Others reached out for words of encouragement. She couldn’t pull herself out of bed.
“My first thought when I woke up this morning and checked the results was that I needed to go out and get a gun (for protection),” Christopher said.
As a self-described black, gay woman who has benefited from Medicaid expansion — extended to those who make too little to afford health insurance but too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act — Christopher said she’s fearful.
“I could be harassed, imprisoned or lose my life for a bunch of boxes that I fit into. Obamacare, even if it’s a flawed system, to lose that means that people I know will die, and that’s not being overdramatic,” she said.
The future president has run on a platform of providing economic prosperity by repealing the Affordable Care Act, which has newly insured 20 million Americans but faces criticism for rising premiums. Trump’s plans also include deporting millions of undocumented immigrants to open more jobs to Americans and putting at least one pro-life and traditional marriage-supporting Supreme Court judge on the bench. That has Christopher, and others in the gay community, scared.
“If they lose their marriage,” she said, referring to LGBTQ couples legally married under federal law, “if their marriages are not protected, they’ll lose that health care, that right to inherit; it can mean the difference of giving up life-and-death decisions.”
Christopher is one of many who woke up to a nation divided. The counts that showed Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote to Trump came in shortly after 2:30 in the morning Wednesday. Pennsylvania and local voters favored Trump, with York County voters casting 126,933 votes for the winner and 67,428 for Clinton.
“The fact that Trump has made it permissible for people to speak up about their racist or homophobic views that they’ve had in their hearts — this didn’t come out of nowhere, but now people are feeling empowered,“ Christopher said.
Native American Lifeline fiscal manager Jessica McPherson shared similar fears. The group helps Native Americans access health care under funding provisions of the Indian Health Care Improvement Act.
“The (Native American) community is already distrustful,” she said. “How do we make sure that our people stay well?”
Although she addressed her employees this morning with grim prospects — the program and their jobs depend on funding provided by the Affordable Care Act — she said the community would look for ways to overcome.
“We have a good long game,” she concluded. “We’re still here. Our ancestors made us strong, so we’ll carry on.”
NAACP president Sandra Thompson said the civil rights organization received reports Wednesday of white students at one local high school yelling "Trump" at students of color, although the claim could not be confirmed immediately. Other reports to the NAACP included black office workers reporting they were targeted by white co-workers looking for a reaction to the election because of the color of their skin and others in Trump jackets coming up to people of color at lunchtime and asking them if they liked the clothing.
As a nonpartisan association, the NAACP does not take political sides, but Thompson said she worried about some specific issues important to people of color.
“Looking at the agenda and the issues that we as an organization are most concerned about — affordable health care, equity in education, restoration of the Voting Rights Act — there’s so many things that give us cause for concern. The agenda that has been put forth is to cut a lot of services. All we can hope is that working across the aisle, irrespective of party, those rights are not cut.”
Centro Hispano president Jose Colon-Bones cast a ballot for Clinton on Tuesday, but he’s hopeful President-elect Trump can work across the aisle for a better America. The Puerto Rican president of York’s Hispanic center was a lifelong Republican until this election, when he said he switched parties because of what he says was divisive language directed at the Hispanic community.
“I’m hoping that he used that (language) to build momentum, and he’ll sit in the White House and say, 'Maybe I shouldn’t be that guy, I should be more flexible in January 2017,'" he said. "I’m hoping that he won’t be as bad as we thought he’d be.”