And now we slow our tears and lock arms.
I almost titled this, “And now we stop crying and FIGHT!” – but that felt off.
Partly because the hurt runs deep and I’ll be honest…I’m still crying. But also because I’m not the run-through-the-fields-screaming-into-battle type. Today I do feel different…and ready to act. But maybe I’m just not the type to run into battle with a weapon drawn. Instead, I guess I’m here to protect the people I’m fighting for. That’s more my jam. I’m going to hug you and shield your eyes from the war around you. I’ll stand strong with my weapon drawn in case they come for you. I’ll lock arms with capable people around you – people like me with little to lose – and I’ll build my own wall to protect you.
But I’ll probably still be crying while I do it, if that’s okay. I told myself I could cry for 24 hours and then I had to stop. But who am I kidding? I still think about that OnStar commercial from many years ago when the girl’s Mom was having a seizure and I cry. I’m not going to stop crying about this election over night.
BUT I HAVE MANY THINGS I NEED TO DO AND SAY! So I’ll wipe away the tears as they fall and try build my plan.
First and foremost: I was hurt by people celebrating yesterday…but I expected that. I mean, I have people in my family who openly hated Hillary and supported Trump and openly hated Obama and are so thrilled to see him gone…so OF COURSE they’re going to celebrate. And that hurt, for sure. But I think what hurts most is the “middle” people. The ones who I think might have the same ideals I do, but don’t voice them, and are just annoyed at the political talk. They’re like, “Time to work together!” or “I thought the political talk was going to stop!” Things like that. And I’ll be honest…it’s always people like me: Cisgender, White, Middle Class, Heterosexual relationships.
We have nothing to lose. So of course we’re all, “NBD. Let’s just work together!”
But here’s the thing…if Trump follows through on his campaign promises and we all have a reason to fight. And we don’t really know right now, but there are a ton of easy things he could do early on. For the environment alone he could pull funding from climate protection programs with the UN (supposedly to “pay for infrastructure” which sounds great but we are further behind efforts to protect our climate, than we are to improver our roadways, it should not be a one-or-the-other game) and he push forward on the Keystone Pipeline that Obama blocked in acknowledgement of the protests. That’s just the environment. He could also remove the executive order protecting LGBTQ workers and he’s DEFINITELY NOT going to continue to support the directive regarding Transgender students that Obama pushed in the wake of the North Caroline bathroom controversy.
So…I would really like my privileged friends to quit asking me to stop talking politics and to work with Trump supporters. If there are big issues we can team up on? I’m not against it. But right now I need to figure out how to protect the people that Trump’s campaign ran on hurting. Wesley said there was a Mexican girl crying about Trump at school yesterday. Maybe she’s a citizen but her parents are not and she was hoping Obama’s executive action would have helped her parents become citizens. Which, of course was already thwarted when SCOTUS deadlocked over the Texas lawsuit against it…but imagine a child citizen with illegal parents. You’ve been holding out hope and now Trump won. Maybe it’s okay for those kids to be upset. And maybe those of us wanting to fight for them will continue to talk politics awhile.
Some of us are not willing to just “let this one go” – which I did fine for the Bush elections. Well, not FINE, but I sucked it up and went about my business. But this is different. It’s different because I’ve been spoiled by 8 years of moving in the right direction, and the President Elect is not Bush. He’s Trump. Bush I could fall back on as having experience and education and I felt like he was a good person at heart. I still stand by his Housing First initiatives as being revolutionary in tackling homelessness.
With Trump it’s a whole other story. I don’t want to hear, “I sucked it up with Obama, you can suck it up with Trump.” Obama didn’t get elected into office by saying he was going to take away rights that people were already enjoying. Maybe he supported gun control but he was NOT going to remove the 2nd amendment. AND – because of the GOP control of Congress, he couldn’t even push mild gun control legislation. So the fear Obama Haters had can not equate the fear Clinton Supporters have of losing their rights to their own bodies, or their rights to not be fired from jobs because they’re gay, or their rights to medical coverage even with pre-existing conditions. Trump won based on promises to remove those things…so there’s a lot more to fear than I ever felt with Bush and that anyone (who had factual news sources) should have felt with Obama. Also? Obama didn’t have a Democratic Senate/House and a Liberal SCOTUS. My conservative family could at least hope for the balance of power to help keep Obama “in check” – but we don’t have the luxury right now. The GOP essentially controls everything and now Trump will probably nominate the 9th judge on SCOTUS.
So please don’t minimize my fears or the fears of the marginalized. Thanks.
If you’re with me and need to know what to do now…here is my plan as it stands.
Amplify Important Voices
People click links on Facebook and Twitter. It’s actually one of the biggest ways people get information. I am determined to continuing amplifying messages delivered from people smarter than myself. I’ve always had a VERY well-curated Twitter feed. But I also curate a few Twitter lists, some are for local stuff, but I have one called “Important Voices” that I update/add to regularly. Now, it’s predominantly writers from the Black Lives Matter movement because that’s how the list got started. I needed voices I would not hear in my normal circle of influence. This means I find myself bristling a lot to hard to hear messages but I find they’re all very important. I try to amplify their voices in my community because they’re delivering messages my privileged circle of influence might not ever hear otherwise. I’ve learned there are always lessons to be learned when I am uncomfortable. I used to fight that discomfort, I would immediately get defensive. But not anymore. Now I bask in it and try to learn from it.
Share great messages all of your social media because I have been told time and time again that links I’ve shared have help shift people’s perspectives. If no one cares? No harm done. But if you can help ONE person see the plight of the marginalized differently? It’s worth it. Especially important messages like this that could honestly save lives:
Do you have any voices you think I should have on my list?
Educate Myself so I can Educate Others
We have two months before Trump officially takes office and we need to be ready. We need to be educated and we need to educate others. I’m very educated already about LGBTQ issues as those issues directly affect my family. If you are not, I suggest you get on a mailing list for PLAG or The Human Rights campaign. Educate yourself on Transgender language issues. Learn about the horrible statistics relating to crime against members of the Transgender community. Learn the painful numbers about suicide in the LGBTQ teen community. And imagine yourself as a teenager as you read all of this.
On the other hand, as I’ve become more involved with the Black Lives Matter movement I’ve been amazed at how little I know about the systemic racism our friends of color have faced. My beautiful internet friend Leah wrote a good piece A White Lady’s Guide To Systemic Racism that is full of her own lessons. Follow the links and learn. One of the most SHOCKING things for me to learn was about A) how much our country desperately needed Fair Housing legislation due to ACTUAL LEGAL DECLARATIONS keeping black Americans (including vets) from getting home loans and then B) how poorly it was enforced when we finally got it. Nikole Hannah-Jones wrote a lot at ProPublica about it – here’s a good primer if you want to read. Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Law. If you prefer to listen, she was also part of this podcast which is what prompted my journey into educating myself. You learn a lot about the roots of systemic racism when you educate yourself on struggles we didn’t know existed.
I also learned (painfully) a lot about how there was no open invitation or mutual support of Women of Color in the efforts to gain the right to vote. Here is a good piece here that makes me sad and makes it difficult for me to revere Susan B. Anthony anymore. Also? How did they not include this in the history books? That white women felt the ONLY way they could get the right to vote was if they kept black women who wanted to HELP THEM FIGHT, in the shadows. One of my favorite voices is Stacey Patton who wrote all of these suffragette quotes on Facebook and they broke my heart. Educate yourself, learn to be comfortable in the discomfort. We must know our history if we’re going to prevent it from happening again.
And then, educate yourself on our current criminal justice system. Watch “13” on Netflix and learn the tragic story of Kalief Browder. Watch John Oliver’s piece on the Municipal fines and how poor people are being screwed over by our system and getting stuck in a hell of fines that leads to jail time.
Those are just the ways this white woman found she was severely under-educated over the last year. So I’m going to re-up my own education so I can be prepared to fight for reform where we need it.
President Obama really tried to increase mental health services as part of our federal budget. He was thwarted in many ways. Why is this important? So middle class white ladies like me can go to their therapist and talk about their feelings? NO. Because it should not be the Law Enforcement community’s job to be the first line of defense in a mental health crisis situation. We should have resources in our communities where a police officer could send someone to a mental health facility instead of to jail. But so many communities lack that so mental health cases wind up booked in jail and we bog down our police and our system with non-criminal activity. We are having to focus too much on training our officers in mental health cases when we should instead build stronger systems in our communities so our police could deal with crime. Our country has been closing down mental health facilities left and right because it’s just not a pretty line item in our budget. If you really loved the Thin Blue Line, you would fight for funding for mental health facilities in your area.
Those are just a few areas I’ve been working on educating myself. There’s also the environment but there are SO MANY different ways to educate yourself about the environment. Unfortunately, the easiest and biggest way we could all help the environment is to Stop eating meat but I’ve learned that’s a touchy subject so maybe we just continue to fight against pipelines for now? I’d love some more environmental education sources so I don’t have to keep saying, “Just stop eating meat!” as my only opinion.
Do you have any resources for educating yourself you’d like to share?
Donate. Donate. Donate.
Maybe you don’t have time to educate yourself. Jezebel made a list of good resources of groups fighting for the people who might be affected the most from a Trump presidency. These are all organizations doing what we might not be qualified to do ourselves. Stand in court. Offer professional services. Rally lobbyists. Etc. They need our money.
I also am a big proponent for funding good news sources. I am a regular contributor to MotherJones as I want to continue to support non-Profit news sources. I also really like ProPublica and of course NPR. I find that news sources that profit are more likely to be skewed for media hype and clickable headlines. No news source is ever going to be unbiased. But if they’re not making money off their headlines or their news tickers, they’re going to be motivated by a little more pure intentions.
Where are you sending your money?
Finally…I’d like to include a link I just stumbled upon this morning. It’s a beautiful letter written by Aaron Sorkin to his daughter. My adult child was in shock about the election. He actually consoled ME at one point which made me more motivated to PULL MY SHIT TOGETHER. He did get a cat. He’s calling it his “therapy cat” which I think we all need right now.
I can not tell you how much I love you all. I had so comments and emails from people that were basically virtual hugs. Every one of them made me stronger. We are still very much open to moving, but we also know that our state doesn’t have a lot of voices here for the marginalized, so until we move, we’re going to do what we can to be part of the change because we are, as always, Stronger Together.