12 Nov 2016

Lamia Imam on Trump: 'It does amount to whitelash'

From Saturday Morning, 8:15 am on 12 November 2016
Lamia Imam

Lamia Imam Photo: Supplied

Kiwi expat Lamia Imam now lives in Texas, where she works as a writer and communications consultant

She tells Kim Hill this year's presidential campaign has seen the mainstreaming of the ultra-right movement and the resulting racism is "scary".

Lamia Imam lives in Austin Texas, she's a communications consultant and a writer and recently completed her masters in public policy at the University of Texas.

She says despite Austin being a liberal enclave in a Republican state, even Austin is not immune to racism in the Wake of Donald Trump's election as president. 

"Racism and hate speech is something that's always been around, but I don't think it's been as overt as we've been seeing in the last two days. I definitely think that the folks who would normally be doing this are much more emboldened and they feel that their views have been legitimised." 

Imam says Mr Trump's win on Tuesday came as a shock.

"I certainly never ever thought he would become the president, this was stunning to see on Tuesday and even days later I'm still stunned."

She told Kim Hill it is difficult to discount racism as a key reason for Mr Trump's win.

"It's weird to see someone who's so overtly racist be supported by folks who have previously supported GOP candidates. I think there was a small part of me 

expected GOP voters would have denounced racism, the fact that they didn't and accepted this candidate is troubling.

"I know a lot of people are saying he's anti-establishment and people are suffering economically so he provided this hope for them and they were able to ignore the racism and latch on to that message there might be some truth to that. A lot of policies of the last 8 years didn't help to the extent that people thought they would help i can understand that."

But she says she's worried core values could be abandoned for voter self-interest and that Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton's message didn't resonate with working class voters - many of whom she says are people of colour.

"Part of the work the left will have to do is think about its folks that are suffering economically. When we talk about working class we assume white working class and there are a lot of workers who are not white and they're suffering too." 

On a personal level Imam says she feels scared.

"I would be lying if I said I was not scared, even the day after the election I was scared to go to work. My family who live in Texas are a little bit scared, part of it is because people her

Imam grew up in Bangladesh and the United States. She is a former NZ Labour Party staffer and studied at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas. This year contributed to The Interregnum, a book of essays by young writers commenting on the current state of political uncertainty.