So. The US election happened. Things have happened. The things that are happening now are not normal and should not be treated as normal. The incoming administration has made it very clear that people of color, Muslims, women, LGBTQIA people, and other vulnerable groups will be under vastly increased fire for the foreseeable future and this is not okay.
Therefore, prepare for a video game analogy.
If you are reasonably certain that you will not be harassed in the street or deported or shot or otherwise denied your rights and basic humanity, but you are worried about people who will be (see: are, and have been), it is your job to put on this badge:
This represented the Tanker archetype in the MMORPG City of Heroes, which was a superhero game where you joined teams of like-minded heroes and used your powers to fight evil together. Sound familiar?
Now, the Tanker was the toughest class in the game. A well-played Tanker was both a) pretty much invulnerable and b) careful to watch the health bars of their teammates way more often than they did their own. It was their job to pull bad guys off everyone else. It was their job to round up opponents to make it easier for the team to take them out. It was their job to go first whenever possible, taking the enemy alpha strike directly to the face, because they were built to handle it.
This was the Tanker motto: "First to fight, first to fall. Never fall."
They were all about front-line support and battlefield control. They weren't a direct damage class. You could make successful teams without them (and people did, often) but it was always easier when there was a Tanker around.
THE DARK SIDE OF TANKER-DOM
Back in the day, you would run into Tankers who were convinced that they were the most important person on the team. They would insist on their way or nothing. They would take credit for every victory. They would freak out when anyone else tried anything that they weren't expecting. Because they were in the front, the reasoning went, they were in charge... and, often, they were, by default, because teams tended to follow the closest Tanker around and assume that they knew what they were doing.
When you put on the Tanker badge, do not do this. Remember that it is possible to make a perfectly functional team without you (and by perfectly functional I mean amazingly effective). Keep an eye on everyone else's well-being and stay humble.
TANKER STRATEGY 101
1) Go find a team. Don't make one. Find one. They already exist. Check out the ACLU or the NAACP or any of the other organizations listed here if you don't know where to start. It took me about three seconds on Google to find that. Try looking up groups in your local community, too!
2) Tank for your team. This means speaking up. This means showing up. This means donating and calling and going where your team needs you the most. As a Tanker, it is your job to put yourself between your friends and the people who would hurt them. Your friends are Blasters, Defenders, Controllers, and Scrappers: they have their own powers and they can handle themselves if they have to, but your presence will help them focus on melting the opposition instead of wasting energy worrying about their safety.
3) Remember that you're a Tanker. You're built to take it. You have better defenses and more HP than anyone else, just because of who you are. Own up to it. If you're singled out and treated like the leader and asked "Oh wow is it hard to be on the front lines?" remember to think to yourself, "No, I'm a Tanker, I'm bulletproof and can go AFK for ten minutes in the middle of a fire when I want popcorn."
Then you say, "Hey, go talk to the Blaster over there. They organized this; I'm just here to show my support."
You say this because you don't know resilience until you meet someone who has Rise of the Phoenix* as part of their attack chain.*
*A power that resurrected your character where they fell in a huge fiery explosion.
*A Blaster strategy that involved charging bad guys and firing off every high-damaging power they had before they got taken out - at which point they would hit Rise of the Phoenix and then do the same thing all over again. Were there penalties for this? Yes. Did it stop them? No. Did it work? Check out the history of civil rights.