• President Donald Trump arrives for a campaign rally at the AeroMod International hangar at Orlando Melbourne International Airport. (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Self-care in an era of 24-hour news pumped with immigration politics and Trump administration alerts may be more important for those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. Neha Kale explains how to look after yourself in a post-truth world.
By
Neha Kale

20 Feb 2017 - 12:21 PM  UPDATED 20 Feb 2017 - 2:13 PM

Xenophobia usually speaks a secret language. It’s the casual acquaintance at a party, who compliments your dress before saying she wished she could be exotic. It’s the politician whose handwringing about Australia’s borders never seems to extend to expats from England or Ireland. It’s the well-meaning boss that tells you that your work ethic is the reason he likes to hire people “where you’re from”.

Today marks one month since Donald Trump officially took office. To me, it's felt dystopian not because his executive orders have been especially surprising but because of the force with which the immigration ban, aimed at citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, has shattered xenophobia’s polite veneer and the impact it is having on immigrants’ health and wellbeing around the world.

Earlier this month, an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer reported an influx of clients with Trump-related anxiety, evidenced by chest-tightness and stomach problems.

“It feels like the threat of discrimination is looming larger for people of colour.”

The Atlantic also published a piece, documenting the fear immigrant children living in the USA experienced due to circling anti-immigration rhetoric. The article claimed that some children in the US were anxious that they could be deported if they went to school or their immigrant parents would be taken away. 

Obviously, sentiment about Trump is mixed throughout the USA. The recent rally to celebrate one month since his inauguration showed the vast support he and his policies have around the country. 

But, if you're prone to feeling the burn of anti-immigration rhetoric, for whatever reason, living in Australia may not exempt you from the dread that, as dramatic as it sounds, feels nowhere and everywhere at once. And although the anti-immigration ban belongs to the Trump not Turnbull administration, the news cycle of 'alternative facts', 'fake news' Trump policies, anti-Trump protests and for-Trump rallies is international.

A threat of discrimination for some, real or perceived

Nadia Nawaz, an editorial director in Sydney, believes that Trump’s executive order against immigration has stoked fears that the world is regressing. “It feels like the threat of discrimination is looming larger for people of colour,” she says.

Nawaz is also anxious that political anti-immigrant rhetoric in the USA will permit a similar reaction closer to home. “As a migrant, I’m devastated at the thought of others who won’t be able to access opportunities — such as education or living in a country free from war — that I’ve been lucky to have.

She adds that although she’s not optimistic about international and national anti-immigrant sentiment, she’s heartened by the scale of the protests around the world. “It’s been confronting to read some of the prejudiced Facebook comments on news pieces. It feels like his populist rhetoric has given people at home the license to air discriminatory views.”

Make your passions a priority and spend one-on-one time with family and friends

Kamna Muddagouni, a Melbourne-based writer and podcaster at Can U Not Podcast, says she feels exhausted by the pace and content of the new Trump administration’s announcements.

After all, today, during President Trump’s first press conference even he stated that there's never been a presidency that's done so much in such a short period of time.

“What I think has impacted me the most is the constant repeating of Trump’s rhetoric by 'liberals' who are not people of colour or immigrants, whose messages of disbelief are masked as solidarity,” says Muddagouni.

“As someone who’s long felt the undercurrent of hateful views that has led to this moment politically for a long time, it can be really tiring to hear those who have who have only come to the realisation constantly focusing on hateful policies when this has [always] been your reality.”

She says her own self-care measures include prioritising time with friends, family and other people of colour, consuming pop culture and watching the AFL Women’s League.

“As someone who’s long felt the undercurrent of hateful views that has led to this moment politically for a long time, it can be really tiring to hear those who have who have only come to the realisation constantly focusing on hateful policies when this has [always] been your reality.”

Reach out to communities who are affected and focus your efforts on the long-term 

Muddagouni recommends that, now more than ever, it’s time to focus the conversation about US politics less on the exclusionary measures issued by the White House and — although it’s infinitely harder — more on xenophobic structures that create exclusion in politics and society.

“My privilege as a South Asian Hindu means my fears are not as well-founded as more marginalised intersections within ‘person of colour’ communities such as those who are black, Muslim, refugees and people seeking asylum,” Muddagouni says.

“Despite this, I am fearful that we as a society will not act quickly enough to shift the debate to one that is responding to each Trump announcement to one that proactively addresses colonial history, racism, misogyny and inequality — the cause of populist views.

“Although the need for self-care is real, this is not something that’s going to go away after four years.”

“It’s important to take some time out from the news cycle so that I’m not in a constant state of stress and anxiety."

Limit the time you spend on social media

In the last couple of weeks, articles about the importance of self-care have proliferated across the Internet. And despite critiques, such as Brendan O’Neill’s at Medium, that argue that this approach proves that we’ve internalised the politics of victimhood, for me taking the time to nourish ourselves is less about retreating from reality than it is about ensuring that we have the mental resources to stay the course.

For Nawaz, exercising self-care means enjoying evenings free from social media. “I have a self-imposed ban on Facebook during the evening as I can’t deal with reading about Trump’s tweets and policies right before I go to bed. And during the week, catching up with friends has been really restorative.

“It’s important to take some time out from the news cycle so that I’m not in a constant state of stress and anxiety.

"There are at least four more years of this so I think it’s key, wherever possible, to give ourselves a break.”

Love the story? Follow the author here: Twitter @Neha_Kale Instagram @nehakale 

If you are in need of support or this article has raised issues for you, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. 


 

Trump's Divided States of America investigates the deep divisions and bitter polarisation that grew during the Obama presidency. Watch the episode two from the series below on SBS On Demand. 

Comment: Why I went to Trump's inauguration and Washington D.C’s Women’s March.
Washington D.C’s Women’s March was in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s Inauguration. Writer, Scarlett Harris, tells all from the frontline of both events.
Comment: How minorities can rise above a Trump victory
"We have a responsibility to break the pattern of silence we have seen in our past and vowed to never again stand for. Misinformed hate speech is not ‘politics as usual’ and is something that must be called out for what it is," writes Thomas Dryburgh.
Helen Razer: Trump isn’t a good role model, but who cares?
Trump is being painted as a bad role model for children, but when it comes to positions of power, character doesn't count for much, writes Helen Razer.