We are not ok.

note: This has been removed by the AAS from the Committee for the Status of the Women in Astronomy. It has been replaced with a modified version. I was told it was an unacceptable “legal and reputational risk” to them.

~ nayyirah waheed

I have tried to write this blog post several times over the last week. It hasn’t gotten any easier. But here we are.

My heart is sick. I like to think I’m fairly realistic about our world, and our country. Those of you who know me know that unbridled optimism is not my going-in position. But I still have spent this week struggling with the fact that this is where we are. Several people have commented to me that it has felt like a funeral. Probably because it is.

First, I want to write to all of you who are in and out of a dark place. To all my minoritized friends and colleagues. You are not alone. And I don’t mean that in the abstract way. I mean that in the “reach out and I’ll be there, call in the cavalry” sort of way*. To everyone who is scared for their family, scared about losing their rights, scared about the sharp spike in hate crimes over the last few days — You are not alone. We will prepare, and we will fight this.

To those of you preaching appeasement and patience: No. We know what that looks like. We are better students of history. I am not afraid to stand up to protect the existence of those who society has pushed to the margins. I am not afraid to stand up to protect myself.

We have just elected a racist, xenophobic, homophobic, misogynist, transphobic, Islamaphobic, egotistical demagogue to be the 45th president of this country. I keep saying it because I need us to face that reality head on, even though it makes me nauseous. The rules have fundamentally changed. He has already appointed a white supremacist neo-nazi propaganda generator to be his closest advisor. Do not let your failure of imagination be our undoing.

I’ve been asked what this means for science. Besides the catastrophic impact on so many scientists — those in explicit danger in the days after the election, those of us scrambling to support our colleagues and students, to help people plan for their immediate safety and the likely rollback on so many rights — besides that? This week I will submit an NSF AAG and wonder if the NSF will even exist over the course of the grant I’ve submitted. The livelihoods of so many are tied directly to funding that is controlled now by an erratic leader and a political party that has made a focus lately of discrediting anything that is tainted by intellectual effort. My hopes are not high. I will keep doing this though because our efforts are needed. Training scientists to lead is necessary. I look at the passionate and brilliant scientists in front of and behind me and I know that we fight for a future where we can all thrive. We do not run from the responsibilities of holding our country’s leaders accountable.

I can not sit still while we undersell this. No, this isn’t the same as George W. Bush. No, Obama deporting people (while a terrible, expanded, and inhumane policy) is not the same as the current threat from the incoming administration. No. All I can focus on right now is making sure people are safe. When you say “We’ve lived through this before.” you give yourself away because plenty of people have suffered as we choose our leaders. Mistakes cost even more lives. I will not “wait and see” or “give him a chance.” I take our new president-elect at his word, and I prepare accordingly.

We have elected someone who doesn’t believe in climate change. We have elected someone who has no interest in treaties, be they with Indigenous tribes in the United States, or with other countries. We have elected someone who has at least bragged about sexual assault, and is being sued for the rape of a child. We have elected someone who has bragged about how he will violate international law including pillaging resources and escalating the use of torture. He has already announced he will deport 2–3 million people immediately upon taking office. Or not? He seems fuzzy on the details. He has already announced he will decimate reproductive healthcare access starting with abortion at the federal level.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has been tracking hate incidents. In particular, notice two things: First, although the hate is broadly distributed, anti-Black and anti-immigrant sentiment feature in the majority of attacks. Second, look where the attacks are happening: Schools and universities. It is crucial we stand up and use our voices to repudiate this violence and hateful rhetoric. We must use our bodies to shield those being attacked.

We have a lot of work to do. I’ll see you out there. #KeepLovingKeepFighting

*Seriously. Reach out at tuttlese at uw dot edu if you need to touch base.