[Updated 11/19/2016: A bilingual Spanish poster has been added.]
Here’s a call for solidarity among all the people targeted by Trump. Download this poster in English or Spanish, print and share it under a Creative Commons License (Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International).
Christine Wong Yap, We Got Each Other’s Backs, 2016, letterpress print, 12×18 inches.
Christine Wong Yap, Nos Cubrimos Las Espaldas/We Got Each Other’s Backs, 2016, letterpress print, 12×18 inches.*
Today, passing Trump Tower amidst other shellshocked New Yorkers, I thought about all the people Donald Trump has alienated on his path towards the US Presidency. I thought about women, African Americans, Latinx, immigrants, Muslims, LQBTQs, and the disabled. I was reminded that other artists have responded in crises, and then I was motivated by how disparate groups can unite in spite of this targeting. The despair was real, but our skills, and our capacities for solidarity and resistance, are too.
I printed this poster today. It’s letterpress-printed, with pressure plate and wood type. B organized a meeting at an art non-profit*, and I intended to distribute posters there. But as I was finishing up printing, a group of Latinx came in to the printshop. It was an ESL class from La Guardia on a field trip. They did not like Trump and were delighted I gave them posters. It was clear they were really proud to express their resistance.
*Thanks Young Zo for the translation help! I could design this poster in different languages; translation is my biggest obstacle. If you can help with translating this idiom into other languages of those groups particularly targeted by Trump, let me know!
Addendum (December 5,2016)
“We Got Each Other’s Backs” is a principle. The poster serves to remind ourselves and each other. But we must also back up those words with actions. It is not enough to perform allyship. Trump and his Islamophobic, homophobic, anti-immigrant, anti-reproductive rights cabinet will wield real power, enact real laws, and hurt real people’s lives. We have to actively resist and take risks, especially when it is inconvenient, uncomfortable, and risky.
I am disheartened to read that NYC subway riders did not intervene when three drunk men recently harassed an 18-year-old Egyptian American woman wearing a headscarf. (Though the Times reported that bystanders on the platform tried to stop the attackers from escaping.) But I’d expected that subway riders would speak up. Silence is complicity. Passively allowing rights to be eroded is anticipatory obedience to white supremacy.
Yet how can I say that I would have intervened? It is indulgent to imagine scaring off attackers with righteous indignation. But the reality is that I wasn’t there, I didn’t feel the intimidation or fear, and I don’t know how to defuse a situation. I’d like to think that being present—as in #illwalkwithyou—would help. But what a gamble (and pretension) to risk your and someone else’s safety on the assumption that your untutored participation (or privilege) will stop a bigot.
So I’m going to a community workshop to learn tactics to intervene productively. Join me.
If you can’t make it to Western Queens, invite trainers to conduct a workshop at your school, workplace, or community. Or, read “How to Help if Someone Is Being Harassed,” by Anna North (New York Times, November 23, 2016), including the links in the last paragraph.