Chris Valetin, 62, of Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, says he fears ISIS and the America that the next generation will live in. The retired steelworker spends nights hanging out at the Fraternal Order of Eagles bar chatting with other longtime locals over beers. He told photographer Mike Belleme that the current political climate has caused him so much frustration that, for the first time since he was 18, he may not vote for a President. "I got nieces, they got little kids. I love 'em to death, but what the hell is the world gonna be like when they get to be my age if they make it that far? I just don't understand it all." As far as ISIS: "Somebody's gotta go down there and take care of things, and we're the only country that's gonna do it. ... If we don't stop them over there, they're gonna come over here."
Mohammed Quraishi, 21, lives in Knoxville, Tennessee, and fears extremists harming or killing his siblings in Iraq. Originally from Baghdad, Quraishi fled to Lebanon with his mother and younger brother in 2010 before they relocated to Knoxville. His older brother and sister were over 18 and not granted refugee status, he told Belleme. The family has been separated for six years. "My father was a translator for the U.S. Army and he was shot and killed. When my brother got married, I could not be there. There is no way to go back; I would be stupid to go. You don't have a future in Iraq. You don't know when you're gonna die."
Ann Dunn, 69, of Asheville, North Carolina, has what she calls an empathetic fear for the suffering of the world. She's a humanities professor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and she was an activist for much of her life. Now she says she feels the pain of the world's tragedies. "While I am fortunate enough not to feel fear in my own daily life, I do feel deeply what I think of as empathetic fear. When I look into the eyes of a Syrian civil war refugee child or a father desperately trying to save his baby; when I look into the eyes of four Mexican drug war refugee children backed against a wall by a large uniformed customs officer; when I look into the eyes of a refugee Tutsi mother and her child escaped from the Rwandan genocide -- I experience their terror in my core. Their fear becomes my fear."
Peggy May, 46, of Lewiston, Maine, fears discrimination and hate crimes. After three marriages and four children, she came out as gay about five years ago. She lives in the town of Lewiston, which over the last 15 years has become one of the biggest landing spots for Somali refugees and immigrants. Watching her hometown change has been scary for her, especially because she believes Muslim culture is less tolerant of homosexuality. "Ever since (the Orlando shooting) in the gay club, we have to worry here as well. We had gay pride that weekend, and a lot of people didn't show up because they were terrified."
Fatuma Hussein, 39, lives in Lewiston, Maine, and fears never having a place to belong. There is tension in Lewiston between the natives and the growing Somali population. Hussein is frustrated by the lack of acceptance. "When you're Muslim, when you're black, when you're a woman, when you're an immigrant, it's just so many layers of barriers that are against you -- and it's very, very painful. And for me, how I deal with it is determination, I think. Remember we are starting from a place of historical trauma, crazy war, all kinds of stuff, right? And you come here and you want to start your life over again, but it's just so scary. ... The American Dream is not a reality for us. So where do we belong, you know?"
Jessie "Bigga" Harris, 50, of Brooklyn, New York, fears for the safety of his children. He has seen a lot of violence and crime firsthand, and he told Belleme he was "a product of the environment at one time." With two young daughters and a 25-year-old son, their lives are his biggest concern. "My biggest fear today is my daughters walking down the street and I'm afraid she might get hit by a bullet. I've seen a whole lot of that in my life. I lost a whole lot of people close to me. I lost a lot of friends. A lot of my friends lost their kids."
Damien Trott, 21, of Columbia, South Carolina, fears gang violence and bullying. For his job at Liberty Tax, he stands on the side of the road wearing a Statue of Liberty costume to attract potential customers. "I was jumped a couple years ago. I got tased really bad and went to the hospital. I feel kinda iffy when I'm out. You never know what might happen."