This Refugee Week, let us reflect on the practical actions we can take in our own lives to welcome those in our midst, and offshore, who are seeking shelter and support in our peaceful and prosperous nation.
The election has come and gone, and what was once a joke, which became a tangible fear, has become a reality for this world.
I remember being emotional when Barack Obama was elected as the President 8 years ago, not necessarily because I agreed with his politics, but because of the incredible step forward it was to have a black man become president in a time where people who lived through segregation were still alive. Yesterday Barack Obama, the first black president of the U.S.A, gave a tour of the white house to a man who has been endorsed by the KKK. Heartbreaking.
I must admit, before June 16 2015, as a 22-year-old young woman living in Sydney, Australia, I did not know much about Donald Trump. From the very first campaign speech where he said, without hesitation,“when Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…. they’re sending their rapists”, alarm bells went off. Sure, I expected that a few blatant racists would back him, but I thought there was no way someone who thinks and says such terrible things could ever become a presidential nominee, let alone THE president of the United States. I was wrong. And sadly, this man would indeed reach even further into the dark depths of racism and misogyny to draw on the misguided fears of everyday Americans and run a successful campaign built on blatantly hateful and dangerous rhetoric.
As a woman I am disgusted, but a woman of colour I am shattered and exhausted. I remember being asked by a white woman which I thought was worse, the fact that he was racist or the fact that he was misogynistic. She could not understand the ways in which those two intertwine and affect women of colour from all angles- racialised sexism and sexualised racism.
As a Christian, woman of colour, I am devastated and disappointed. I cannot comprehend why anyone who claims to love Jesus, would endorse this man. My Jesus lifted the head of women who were being shamed by men. My Jesus broke cultural taboos and spent time with women who were seen as outcasts or sinful. My Jesus spent time with Samaritan women, shattering divisive racial norms and declaring his kingdom is for EVERYONE. My Jesus cares for me and He wanted me to know through everyone one of his words, actions and deeds, that I am loved, I am included and that I matter. I matter to Jesus. Black people matter to Jesus. Women matter to Jesus. Refugees matter to Jesus.
Throughout his campaign Donald Trump has repeatedly voiced and given unprecedented platform to dangerously hateful ideas and policies toward women, immigrants, refugees and many other marginalised groups. There are millions crying out, desperately trying to convey to the world that they do not matter to Donald Trump. That what the American president-elect stands for does not make them feel included, safe or valued, and this is the problem. Donald Trump validates and allows the deep-seated racism and misogyny that is still sadly entrenched in many hearts to come into the light and hurt vulnerable people. This does not reflect God’s inclusive Kingdom and Jesus’s heart for this world.
I am afraid for my brothers and sisters in the United States. I am already getting calls from my sisters who are being harassed for wearing hijabs at an unprecedented level. NGO’s helping Hispanic immigrants have been attacked and many communities with large people of colour populations have been threatened with violence, making it very clear that they are “not welcome in this country anymore.” We are better than this. A world where people are afraid, disenfranchised and demonised is not a world that reflects the heart of Jesus. And as people who claim to have His powerful, transformative love living inside us, we cannot remain idle. Trump and his rhetoric are a symptom of a very broken world, if there ever was a time for Christians to start to “love not in word or speech, but with actions and truth” (1 John 3:18), it is now.
Disappointed, but not defeated, there is a lot of work to do.
Hwvar is a 22 year old, Kurdish-Australian woman who is studying social work at Western Sydney University. She is a valued member of Common Grace's Asylum Seeker justice team.
This article is part of a series of Christians reflections on the recent US election.
See also Richard Glover's reflection: Donald Trump and the Politics of Resurrection