The Monster Under your Bed is the President-Elect. Now What?
“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.” — Faulkner
Along with the rest of the world, I spent Tuesday night glued to the television praying to a higher power that I don’t necessarily believe in that things would turn out alright. But they didn’t. Then I began to cry, because the monster hiding under our proverbial bed, the one we tell our children to avoid, the fear that constantly lurks in the back of our mind — last night he won the presidency. And personally, I am terrified, I am angry, and I am fired up.
We have two months before he takes office and we must act immediately. Starting today. We will peacefully accept the results of this election and we will maintain the foundation of democracy, but we will not go quietly into the night as he works to destroy the core of our nation. We will stand tall, raise our voices, and protect those who are most at risk.
Come January Trump may surprise us. But I am not comfortable waiting to see if he will violate everything I hold dear. Instead I will prepare myself for the worst case-scenario — you should too. Here is what you can do, starting today:
- Please apply your oxygen mask before helping those around you — this election has been emotionally toxic and before we can be organizers and activists we need to take care of ourselves. In the week leading up to the election my skin broke out, I barely slept, my stress skyrocketed, and my joints began to ache and spasm (I live with a chronic disease). Tonight after work, the first thing I did was to take some time looking after myself, so I could begin help those around me. Reach out to your friends family. Get the help you need and take care of yourself.
- Recognize the fear — figure out what scares you most about Trump and write that down. In my book he threatens every value center to my American identity. Trump represents the men who raped and sexually assaulted some of closest friends. He is the man who bullied and assaulted my LGBT friends. He is above justice. He is every man who has called my minority friends slurs that I am not even comfortable writing. He is the man that followed me home one night and asked me how much I “cost.” Trump is every doctor who underestimated the severity of my health condition because I am a woman. Men like Trump is what women think about every time we begin to question our security and plan an exit route. He is the man who wants to hand out passbooks and determine an individual’s worth based on inalienable aspects of their identity. He is the threat that our parents warned us about, but elevated to the most powerful office in the country. I fear Trump, because he threatens the basic civil liberties and freedoms that I hold dear. His presidency sends the message that as a woman living with a disability I am less.
- Identify who you love and what you stand for — then move out in small circles. Establish the values, programs, and laws that are most important to you. In our impending challenge you cannot fight every battle, so pick what is more important to you and what you are most knowledgeable about. Remember that you live in a country where you are loved and start there. Go back to your roots and hold onto your values. Take care of your communities. Remind those at risk that they are valued as americans and as humans.
- Learn how to keep others safe — Trump’s campaign, win or lose, has given a whole slough of people permission to be hateful and violent. I expect we will see a rise is public demonstrations (both verbal and physical) of hatred so learn to be an ally. Here is an article about how to respond to Islamaphobia. Here and here are solid articles on how to be an LGBT ally. Then here, here, and here are articles on how to be an ally to blacks. The list goes on. Do your research and when you see hatred in society, do something. You are directly and personally responsible for making those around you feel safe.
- Volunteer — find a space in your community where you can volunteer and send a message that Donald Trump’s America is not yours. Whether it be with the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, HRC, rape crisis centers, homeless organizations,or a number of other groups, sign up for a slot as soon as possible. Send a message to the minorities in our communities that they are respected and supported. Tell them that we are not this — we are better and we will stand by their side in the face of this next challenge.
- Call your representatives — call your newly elected (or standing) government representatives at both the federal and state level. Tell them what is most important to you, tell them you expect them to fiercely defend those items in the face of a Trump presidency, and that you will follow up until you feel as though your request has been respected.
- Attend religious services — go to the pulpit in your communities and hear what the religious leaders have to say. See if it is a message of hate or acceptance so you can better understand the values of those who live in around you and how they reached the political decisions that they did
- Find a community — Check out MoveOn’s list of peaceful gatherings in response to this election. Also look at this movement called #our100 which was started by 100 women of color. Find a safe place near you where you can speak with others about your grievances. But remember the stability of American democracy is predicated on a peaceful transition of power. So accept that this is what the electorate has chosen and that now we need to deal with the situation at hand.
- Donate — If you have the financial resources donate to the organizations that will be hit the hardest, those who are gearing up to protect their interests. Check out this wonderful google doc with lists of domestic interest organizations you can support. I also urge you to consider donating to your favorite humanitarian and foreign focused organizations. There is a good chance that US foreign aid will take a hit and many people around the globe will be at risk as a result.
- Listen to those who disagree with you — I am not expecting you to forgive, but the reality is that 50% of this country voted that man into office. We need to recognize that and that as a result we cannot move forward and make progress without them. Later on down the line we will need to understand their grievances, why they thought he could help, and why they thought we couldn’t.
- Don’t go low — It is easy to try and blame a certain part of the population for this outcome but that is not productive. I have heard a lot of rhetoric that uneducated white people put him into office, but 75% of college-educated white men voted for him too. Do not stereotype and judge the other side, because then we become them. Try and keep in mind that the most common individual motivators to conflict are: exposure to conflict, perceptions of injustice, and perceptions of inequality. If we develop prejudice about their side then we have lowered our own standard. We are better than that.
I know this is hard, believe me. It feels like the America I know and love is at risk. In the 24 hours since the election every woman I have spoken to has expressed fear for their right to their own body. I am hearing LGBT people worry that their right to marry, have children, and be treated as equals is compromised. Blacks have expressed a fear of the justice and policing systems in our country. South Americans fear deportation. Muslims fear being painted as terrorists. The disabled fear further marginalization. Friends in the military fear for their futures.
You know what all of those people have in common? They are legitimately afraid for their personal safety. A Trump campaign, much less a presidency, has given the darkest parts of our society permission to be hateful with the implication that there will be no consequences. I would be lying if I said I was hopeful but I am calling upon every ounce of conviction that I have and I will protect the country that I love. The monster under our bed and the man we fear is our president-elect. What are you going to do about it?