Don’t give up, America

Early on November 9th I watched Donald Trump win the US Presidential election. I was shocked- I truly thought Hillary Clinton, who is better in so many ways, would win. I thought rationality and good manners would win. I thought appeals to voters’ higher natures and a vision of America that is just, tolerant, and inclusive would win.

I admit, it has been hard for me to watch Trump succeed- I am a domestic abuse survivor and sometimes things he would do or say would bother me- a lot. They would haunt me.  The smug, bullying, abusive man who is so certain of himself and his worth despite showing no signs of integrity brings back a lot of memories. However, he’s been elected, and it’s been pointed out to me that the reality I live in now- unsure of whether the legal and government systems put in place will protect me, unsure of whether tomorrow or the next day someone will target me for abuse, unsure of whether my neighbors approve of and support this kind of abuse (maybe not overtly, but tacitly) is the kind of America people of color live in. All. The. Time.

I grieved yesterday- I think America would have truly shone under Hillary- and then today and the next day and all the days after that I’ll start doing my part to make America a safer place, not just for me and people like me, but for everyone.

There are lots of things to do. Get involved in local politics. Write to your senators and congresspeople about issues you feel passionately about, or call them. Organize groups to write letters and call. Organize petitions and protests. Make donations to organizations that stand up for minority rights or for women’s health care, LGBT+ rights and equality, fair and humane immigration, refugee rights. Say something when you see or hear about injustice- most bullies back down when they are confronted in real life, though we all know online they seem to gather courage. If you have white/ethnic/cisgender privilege, as I do, it seems only just to use that privilege to speak up for people that are marginalized or mistreated. Apparently pro-Trump supporters now feel it is OK to harass minorities, and heartbreaking stories of abuse in public spaces and in schoolyards are circulating the internet. Don’t stand for it, if you’re white. Don’t just watch and blog it later- say something. Stop it in its tracks.

I’m going to start by  writing each and every senator and congressperson agitating for the approval of Merrick Garland to Supreme Court. I’ve also learned that a climate change denier is tagged to run the EPA- his name is Myron Ebell and he’s made a lot of foolish comments about the climate so far. I plan to make calls and write, to him and anyone else I can think of, about this issue even though I know it may be a quixotic gesture. I have to try.

Through my tears, I started looking into volunteering for Planned Parenthood and I made a recurring donation to the ACLU. Most Americans agree with me that these organizations do important and valuable work, and I won’t listen to the hate-filled folks that want to trample on minority rights (Stop and Frisk doesn’t help reduce crime and it harasses people of colour unduly– I’d like to see all those smug white pro-Trump folks on TV endure that kind of treatment in their home towns for long) or refuse to let women and their families and doctors make the right decisions for themselves. I am part of a nationwide group called the Pantsuit Nation on Facebook, and I’ve read so many heartbreaking tales of women who were forced by medical complications to choose- if their right is taken from them not only will it not save babies (they die anyway) but it causes immense suffering to both mother and child, for no reason. Anti-choice protesters seem to think that all women asking for an abortion skip in there blithely and don’t give a shit about human life, that we don’t take it seriously, that we aren’t torn to shreds about our choice. I will always fight against that stupid, dangerous stereotype. And Planned Parenthood is often the only source of medical care (they are not an abortion factory-style assembly line!), since they provide a lot of free or low-cost care for reproductive health and contraception. If you’re against contraception, you’re pro-abortion.

I’m also heartened by the fact that Donald Trump is an actor, and was a Democrat three years ago. I am hopeful that his bizarre, misogynist and racist sentiments were just an act to get elected. That they could get him elected makes me sadder than I can articulate, which is why on the 9th I grieved. But today- today I pick up my computer and I get to work.