Donald Trump became the president of the United States and took office on January 20, 2017. His first 100 days have been filled with hatred, unjust decisions, bombings of innocent civilians, and the confiscation of basic human rights through rhetoric. While in Australia I thought I would be able to escape the horrors of President Trump and immerse myself fully into Australian culture by learning cool phrases like “keen and reckon” while making “heaps” of friends. To my surprise as soon as I was on the plane I could not get away from the policies he was implementing and the things he was saying.
Every time I meet someone from Australia, or from somewhere else around the world, and the topic comes up, I am instantly in a job interview:
“What are your feelings on President Trump?”
“Do you think his strategies are good business strategies?”
“Oh, you don’t like President Trump either? Okay, good...just had to make sure.”
The curiosity surrounding my political viewpoints always fascinated me. After asking a couple of people why they were so inquisitive about this issue, they said that they wanted to ensure that they were not associating themselves with someone who supports Trump’s racist rhetoric, and who believes that a wall should be built to keep Mexicans out.
As someone who does not think President Trump is fit to be the president of the United States, I found that my opinion was reiterated through acts of protest here in Melbourne. While in Melbourne, I have heard about two anti-Donald Trump protests and have witnessed Australian students make announcements in class, telling people to come and support these protests. To my surprise, there has been a lot of interest in publicly opposing Donald Trump. There has even been an extensive amount of political artwork—specifically of Donald Trump drawn in white, with an X over his face—proving Australians’ disgust and desire to rebuke the foolish mistake that Americans have made. There is also a prevailing feeling that the outcome of the U.S. presidential election may harm the world. These acts of solidarity are something that I value, and that continue to make me think that human beings are inclined to do good in times of hardship. Australia and many other places throughout the world are uniting to show anti-Trump Americans that their concerns are being heard, and that solidarity is present. These protests tangibly demonstrate the opposition that Americans, Dominicans, Mexicans, Colombians, and all others feel towards this administration.
In Australia I have truly seen citizens be “people for others.” People who are not directly affected by this president are protesting on the streets and screaming at the top of their lungs. Although it may seem insignificant, it is, in fact, providing validation for the concerns of people of color, immigrants, LGBTQIA folks, and those who have been directly targeted by Trump’s hateful policies and time in office. Many hateful Americans have said that liberals and those of us who have been directly targeted are overreacting. However, this sign of solidarity confirms that the rest of the world sees the need for opposition as well, and demonstrates that as a world, we need to move towards the deconstruction of racist, xenophobic, and homophobic tendencies in order to truly ensure the happiness of all.
Australia has been a land of surprises for me. As a country, it has made countless mistakes, including the way it treats indigenous people, and the manner in which it has framed Aboriginal women to look weak and nimble, when they are in fact strong leaders. Australia has taught me that one can work past his or her mistakes and progress. This lesson has particularly stood out to me in my Aboriginal women’s course, in which we recently discussed the prime minister’s apology to the Aboriginal people for all of the torture and harm they have suffered. However, we must also always keep in mind that it is never simply enough to say, “I am sorry,” and expect that those who have been mistreated will be automatically rehabilitated; a fact that has been made obvious by the experience of slavery in the United States and in many parts of the world. Australia has aided in fueling my desire to help others. Through alliance and solidarity, it has given me a break from America and allowed me to find out new ways to support it, and to grow from this tragic mistake.