Shortly after the jarring election of Donald J. Trump, you might’ve seen a hilarious sketch from Saturday Night Live called The Bubble where “it’s like the election never happened.” The Bubble is a magical, if not eerily insulated, “place where the unthinkable didn’t happen and life could continue for progressive Americans just as before” because it’s “a planned community of like-minded free thinkers – and no one else.” The punchline is genius: “The Bubble: It’s Brooklyn with a bubble on it.” It’s funny because it’s true – or maybe not.
For my recent book of photos and interviews, Meet the Regulars: People of Brooklyn and the Places They Love, I interviewed more than 40 Brooklynites at the bars, restaurants, shops where they regularly hang out. When I saw that Saturday Night Live sketch, I wondered what the people in my book thought of The Bubble. The people I interviewed were of various ages, genders, and races. However, many skewed heavily on what some might view as the hipster set and perhaps what the SNL writers would see as a playful yet prime target for that sketch.
As we approach the impending inauguration, I reached out via email to the people of Brooklyn from my book and asked them: Do you feel you will be personally affected by the Trump presidency? If so, how? Here’s what they said.
Jad Abumrad, host of Radiolab on public radio, 44, lives in Fort Greene
“I feel personally affected in so far as [Trump] ran a campaign that was nasty and divisive and conflicts with my most basic values. As an American and as a human. The Declaration of Independence says WE the people have been endowed by certain inalienable rights. The WE is important. All of us of us, no matter our race or creed or gender, no matter if we’re rich or poor, all of us have those rights. America is a plurality. Lincoln took that to be America’s highest moral standard. By that measure, Trump is the most un-American president elected in my lifetime. So yeah, that personally affects me.”
Seaton Smith, 34, Comic, lives in Williamsburg
“I’m not worried personally any more than I would normally be if I was to walk into a country bar in Alabama. Nothing new is happening here. The blatant racism that Obama had to go through these eight years wasn’t lost on Black people. I know there was some recent hate-vandalism going on, but it’s being reported like it’s new, like Trump started racism, or he’s given them license to do what they do. They never needed a license. There is no license. Trump didn’t start it. If anything I think he probably hates Muslims and Mexicans. And black people are, like, six or seven on the list. So, no, things are the same. Cops still shooting.”
Ellen Stagg, 38, artist and photographer, lives in Greenpoint
“My ‘bubble’ isn’t that big. It’s quite small, and I can see outside of it. I have friends that are of all ethnicities, sexual orientations, and lifestyles. They are constantly inspiring me and educating me to see outside my ‘bubble.’ Racism, rape culture, and just plain hate is there; and this time it won. These next four years will affect me – and my friends. I’m terrified of these hateful people, ‘the Trump followers,’ even more than Trump himself. But this might affect me in a good way, too: To help me not be so complacent and help those less fortunate. But as a woman, I am scared. Scared for my friends of color, my LGBT friends, and scared for other women. This will personally affect my work, my thinking, my every day life. As a woman, this will affect me.”
Alison Cutlan, 44, Scientist and Designer, lives in Greenpoint, works in Gowanus
“Do I feel personally affected by the Trump presidency? Absolutely. Although states can have a certain amount of autonomy with civil liberties (and New York is dedicated to protecting those rights), Trump can seriously affect other aspects of our lives– like healthcare, the economy, and foreign policy– that affects us all. Some of his cabinet picks and advisors are far scarier than him and could do lots of damage if we let them. So we must engage and be vigilant, now more than ever to make sure that is limited. With this current situation, it’s irresponsible to be in a bubble about it. “
Joey Green, 27, Patient Care Coordinator for Patient Administrative Services, lives in Greenpoint
“I work at a primary health care facility in Manhattan that primarily serves LGBTQ folks. Many of our patients are recipients of the Affordable Care Act or have Medicaid or Medicare, so a Trump presidency and Republican-led government will directly affect these communities as well as well as the work that I do. As a queer identified male of color, I am affected by the continued violent behavior, verbal or otherwise, that a pending Trump presidency incites from individuals on either side of the argument. On the other hand, his presidency has put a face to the ugliness in America that is racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and every other type of discrimination and prejudice that exists. Now, we in this bubble are looking that ugliness directly in the face; it has given way to long-overdue and much needed conversation, which in the end gives me a lot of hope.”
Tinuade Oyelowo, 33, barista and artist, lives in Bed-Stuy
“Aside from being in shock over the whole ordeal, I can’t help but feel quite a bit of fear over our next president-elect Donald Trump. And it’s not because of fear of taxes or fear of my insurance being taken away, but it’s more along the lines of how marginalized communities, some of which I’m a part of, don’t have a voice. I cannot respect a man who used bigotry to propel his campaign. It’s also about the people that he has chosen to help lead this nation, a nation that is diverse and has many belief systems, and has been a safe haven for individuality, self expression, races and gender equality. These issues along with the debt crisis that confronts us are not going to be protected. This country elected a man who used small-minded bigotry and took pride in attacking those with little to no voice. He ran his campaign off fear and he continues to use the same tactics that a 15-year-old teen would, to voice his ‘professional opinions.’ I fear for our media outlets. I fear for my friends and peers. I fear the very thing this country was founded on…our freedoms. Furthermore, this man has not even stepped into office and you can already see the lies he has already backtracked on. The only thing positive about what has happened is that this will have to become a state of resistance and creative growth for our country. What I think will be most important is making sure we as citizens speak up for those who can’t. We must truly become what it means to be ‘One nation.’”