On November 8th, 2016, in accordance with the Electoral College, Donald Trump was elected as the 45th president of the United States, altering the fate of the country for the next four years and marking American history textbooks forever. Since then, protests have flooded the streets, from New York to Los Angeles, in outrage and solidarity with those who will be affected by Trump’s future actions. Fury and sadness engulfed the country and multiple social media outlets. As Trump supporters rejoiced, opposers expressed their grief, hope or helplessness—in tears, in shouts, in art, in silence—to deal with the event. Dealing with people, especially one in a position of power, who believes in such horrible, hateful ideology must take a toll on minorities, and the election was no exception. Once the results from the American Election were released, many jumped to tell all those who oppose Trump to sympathise and educate those who don’t. Although these requests aren’t exactly malicious, they don’t take into account the emotions and weariness felt by opposers.
Sociologist and academic Arlie Hochschild published the book The Managed Heart in the late 70s which first brought to life the term emotional labour. Emotional labour, used mainly in relation to the workplace, is described by Amy S. Wharton as “... the process by which workers are expected to manage their feelings in accordance with organizationally defined rules and guidelines.“ Emotional labour can also be seen through feminist eyes, as women have many strenuous duties seen as ordinary in our patriarchal society pushed upon them. Examples would be expecting women to always smile, to reply to sexist comments nicely, be a crying shoulder (especially as a mother), and more. But emotional labour doesn’t stop there—it can also be applied to minorities, which many can attest to during moments such as these.
After the election, many people insisted on sympathizing with Trump supporters, to help educate them on why so many are angered and opposed towards Trump and his policies. To ask for help and sympathy isn’t wrong as many supporters mindlessly followed their friends and family, or hadn’t taken the time to understand and research the candidates and their beliefs, but adds more weight upon the shoulders of minorities that are already grieving over the future state of their country. Looking back through the CNN’s polls on the Election of 2016, those who voted for Clinton alone 74% were of color, in comparison to Trump who only carried 21% of nonwhite votes. That’s asking for a lot of people of color, who already did their part on trying to help beforehand, so who are we to put more weight on their shoulders?
For some reason, when white people have a question pertaining minorities such as people of colour, they’re expected to answer, but expectations like these shouldn't be a norm. We shouldn’t be expecting people of colour to teach the basis of cultural appropriation, blackface. This is when emotional labour meets intellectual labour, as white people demand free labour or “help” from visible minorities to aid them in their projects or education, but it doesn’t just stop there. Minorities such as the LGBTQ+ community, disabled community and others face issues such as these. Asking these minorities about discourse pertaining to their group when Google is free can be troubling and emotional for some. Many don’t take into account that minorities don’t owe anyone any intellectual labour, as well as emotional. Just because someone is black or gay or autistic—or all of them—doesn’t mean they have all the answers pertaining it or that they’re comfortable discussing it. By continuously asking them questions they have probably heard countless times before, we add weight onto their shoulders they would rather not take, but feel pressured to by society. Not all LGBTQ+ people feel comfortable discussing the shooting in Orlando, not all black feel comfortable discussing police brutality in America, not all disabled people feel comfortable talking about Trump’s impression of Serge Kovaleski. Before asking a minority a question pertaining their group, please take the time to research, please take the time to see them as human. Please take into account their emotions.
When times like these approach, it’s time to step back and think before asking. Stop expecting minorities to do the work and take the initiative to do so yourself. This could simply add unto emotional labour, and during events such as bigot as President, sadness, hopelessness and anger are at an all time high. Everyone is different and everyone carries weight others don’t feel or see. Care for your American friends and family who belong to minority groups and let them deal with their situation without adding extra weight upon their shoulders. Give them time to grieve over the America that failed them once again.
Photography source: Daily News