Wow. Right? I think it’s fair to say that all of us who didn’t support Trump have been reeling the last couple days. Some of us, in varying degrees, have been dealing with anger, sadness, and fear. Some of us have been protesting, some of us have been endlessly scrolling through Twitter and the news and anything else we can pick through to find answers–anything to try to sort out what the fuck happened, and what the fuck we’re going to do. And some of us have been quiet, not sure yet what to do or say or think or feel.
I still can’t say I know, for sure. Partly because we haven’t seen yet how this is going to go–we don’t know how many of his promises Trump is going to keep, how much (if at all) other Republican officials are going to stand up to him, or how dangerous it’s going to be for some of our most vulnerable citizens. We all know we’re going to have to fight to keep the rights we’ve already achieved–and I think a lot of us know, deep down, that any progress from the point we were at will probably be put on hold as we struggle to even maintain what we have.
But we don’t know yet where those fights will have to be the strongest. And a lot of us aren’t even sure what to do with the emotions we’re feeling. Like…where do we direct our anger? Is it productive and/or fair to direct it toward those who voted for Trump? How about toward those who voted third party? How about the nearly half of the population that didn’t vote at all?
How do we continue to stand up for ourselves, not allow Trump’s hateful, dangerous rhetoric to be normalized, but still proceed in a way that makes actual change–because we know, as much as this hurts, that to change people’s minds you have to listen, to understand, to meet them where they are, to hear what their frustrations are and answer their questions and treat them with dignity. We know, as good as it feels because they hurt us, that making fun of and dismissing everyone who supported Trump is only pushing them further away.
I’m hearing so many reactions floating around, and most of them are valid, if biased. Lots of people who supported Clinton, especially white men and women, are talking about patience, calm, understanding, and empathy. They’re reminding us that a lot of people who supported Trump are not the white nationalists or the Pepe-wielding redditors you see depicted in the media. They’re asking us to keep an open mind. And they’re right, to an extent. On the other side of the spectrum, people of color, religious minorities, LGBTQIA folks, people with disabilities, women and others are saying that it doesn’t matter–that anyone who supports Trump is approving of racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and a whole bunch of other nastiness by voting for him. They’re saying it is our right to protest, and that it’s easy to be calm if you don’t have to be afraid. We are afraid, and rightfully so. And those people are right too.
But I think the answer lies somewhere in between, because both sides are right. I think the way forward is for those of us who’ve already been fighting–exhausted as we may be, and discouraged as we may be–to keep fighting. And I think the key is for those who didn’t fight before–those who are able–to join us. And I also think that the fight will be fought on a variety of levels. Some of us, especially those with the kinds of privilege that makes Trump supporters more likely to listen to them (like straight white men), will work to change the hearts and minds of the people around them, gently and compassionately. Others will work with nonprofit groups, government programs and powerful individuals to push for the preservation of our legal protections and rights. Others will write songs, books, movies, poems, blogs, articles, podcasts and so on that both reach out to the undecided or quiet folks out there, and that encourage those fighting. This is to name only a few of the ways we can all be a part of a force for good.
There’s a place for us all in this, and don’t let anyone tell you what you have to be or what you have to do. I don’t encourage violence and I don’t think it helps us, but that is the only thing I will actively discourage right now. Feel what you want to; say what you think is important; do what you can. Take some time to grieve, if you need it. Some of us will need more than others. If you feel deeply unsafe, do what you need to do to protect yourself (including moving away–don’t let people try to shame you out of it if you feel threatened or unwelcome). If you think more people need to be sympathetic with the people who voted for Trump, then get out there and be the outreach you see a need for. There is no one right path. We are a nation of diversely talented people, and we can use that diversity to push for good in a time that seems so bleak; so dangerous.
I’m going to put links in my sidebar to some organizations that will probably need donations, volunteers, votes and support in the years to come. I also encourage registering to vote if you are able to and have not yet, because like many have pointed out, there is a major midterm election in 2018 as well as whole bunch of local things to get involved in.
Please feel free to contact me if you have questions, need to talk about something, want to know how you can help, have suggestions for me, if you want to write for me, if you want me to write for you, if you want me to plug your organization or project–I’m open, and I try to answer everyone.
And please feel free to engage in civil discourse in my comments section!