Many of us are scared right now. Terrified. Disappointed. Sad. Angry. Shocked. Sickened. In disbelief.
It’s in this moment we realize that we are under active threat of a Trump presidency.
We were absolutely sure that in 2016 we’d made tremendous and immovable progress as a nation. We were proud of our accomplishments and our country, cocky even. We mocked Trump and saw him as a fatuous, barbarous being. A hilarious SNL skit. We knew that we had differences when it came to our beliefs and the candidates, but most of us didn’t realize how deep the rabbit hole went. Now, we are searching for answers. We are searching for the very soul of the nation that has just betrayed us. We didn’t see him coming. Not like this. It’s like being sucker punched in the gut, feeling the acrid bile rise in the throat.
And these feelings aren’t just because we missed another opportunity to elect the first woman to the highest seat in the land. That’s extremely disappointing, but there’s way more to it. Many of us are downright embarrassed, ashamed and fearful at this point. We know that Trump won’t make America great unless we are talking about making a great mess and we know we’ll be left to clean it up and rebuild long after he’s booted out.
We know Trump used his platform to fearmonger and divide. And we are mortified that it worked. We are pissed that we didn’t take him (or his constituents and their rage) seriously.
We know that there was a strong current of hate, violence, exclusion, and intolerance that undergirded Trump’s campaign message, but we thought the nation was beyond that. No one would really vote for him after all he’d said and done, would they? Yup. Not en masse though, right? Yup. Trump emboldened a nation to wear their discriminatory thoughts (which we fear will morph into action) on their sleeves and instead of tucking the bigot card deep into their politically-correct pockets, they are waving those cards around with pride and glee. That’s a wave of freedom.
We know that Trump’s slogan to make America great again was code for making America white af again and not just white, but this archetypal hetero, cisgender, racist, brash, Christian hero who can do and say whatever they want type of white. A blinding whiteness where those who are willing to shed this willy nilly diversity, integrationist and intersectionality bullshit and fall back into normative lines can reclaim the supremacy, dominance and privilege that is their birthright (insert sarcasm).
We know that these “great” American times were realms of terror for those who fell outside of these rigid racial confines. Choose any decade from the time Europeans stole this land to very recently and various groups will have horror stories to tell and wounds to show. Many of us are at risk of experiencing immeasurable pain and oppression again, right now, as a result of this presidency.
We know that within four years, many hard fought rights and privileges could be revoked from access to affordable health care and a woman’s right to choose to the right to marry the person we love and simply use the damn bathroom. Families are concerned that their marriages and unions will be overturned. That they won’t be able to use their spouse’s insurance or legally have rights to parent their own children. That people will be allowed to not service them in stores or government buildings and legally get away with it. And that there will be new Supreme Court justices to support it.
Some fear that as the President of our nation, Trump explicitly gives youth and adults permission to harass, bully, and malign others when they speak out against rape culture and sexual violence.
Some refugees fear being deported back to the very place they fled because of how they look or what religion they practice. Some fear that a wall of racial profiling will be built even higher and stronger so that Latina/o/x and others can be harassed and violated for simply existing.
Some people fear that their human rights and land will continue to be violated, overrun by racism and corporate greed. That environmental concerns will be sorely diminished and that climate change will descend back into fairytale and mockery.
Some of us fear that our children will be harassed, afraid, demoralized, or attacked for being different or for speaking out against injustice. For some, this is an imminent danger.
All of these things make us feel unsafe. We have lost a sense of physical and moral safety, as tenuous as it might have been. A Trump presidency scares the shit out of some of us. We’ve had a preview of how he operates and how people respond to him and some of us don’t want to be that type of America again.
Many of us don’t know what to say to our loved ones in the morning because we are still trying to process the bizarre thing that just happened and deal with the fear in our own hearts. After we sleep, pray, eat, meditate, hug, cuss or blame everybody but Trump, his voters and the systems of oppression and corruption that brought him to power, here’s what we can do.
Look at the big picture. This is bigger than Nino Brown. Take solace in your spiritual beliefs or look at this presidential election from a historical or global perspective. You can even do research and figure out who has an even worse leader than we will in January 2017 because misery loves company. You might find a silver lining or realize that though this moment in our nation’s history is bad, for many, it has been much, much worse and for a much longer time. Breathe that in. Twice. It is a wonderful privilege to just now realize how screwed up our nation really is. And many survived (and still are actively fighting and surviving oppression) and so can you, in theory. Make those people your allies.
Next, deal with your feelings and take some time to process them. Give yourself grace. This is a tragic situation with unnerving implications. If you have children or other little people who want answers, tell them the truth. Educate them to the best of your ability and in a nurturing way, say, “Shit is fucked up right now.” Then reassure them that you all are resilient. Give examples of when times have been difficult in your own lives or in history and how you or others pulled through. Let them share their feelings and together, hatch a plan to become or stay civically engaged. Some of us were never told how others were oppressed, how important our rights were or how crooked our leaders could be, which is why some of us are so shocked right now. This is a potential teachable and learning moment.
Accept where we went wrong as a nation. Everyone has to take responsibility and that goes beyond your ballot. This horror train started moving way before this election cycle. Trump gave it traction. Let’s process that and learn to lovingly hold each other accountable. We know that we can do better than this and that we want more out of our country. So let’s create it. Complacency won’t do. Form coalitions and get it done.
Then, count your blessings. There are always things to be thankful for even if it isn’t this presidency. Don’t let this fool steal your joy for the next four years because your ass will be miserable and that’s counterproductive. Find the balance in your life and your outlook. Know that the pendulum will swing back the other way eventually.
Finally, know that you have power and that this backlash to equality and access is as American as apple pie. Don’t pout and regardless of what Trump says, don’t let anyone grab you by the P. Reclaim your power, political and otherwise.
Get unified and mobilized like Chisholm and Hamer. Instead of shaming and creating more discord, find the middle ground and pull the fuck together. Clearly the force behind Trump is stronger than we’d anticipated, so we need all hands on deck. We must unite and advocate for each other, even when we don’t think an issue impacts us. It’s the asshole who only gets involved when they have something to lose. It’s one of the ways we got here tonight. We’ve got to support each other. We need strategy, leadership, involvement, education, outreach, unity, compassion, and love. We must get Trump out of power as soon as possible and re-envision the nation that we want to be. It’s ours for the taking. It’s for our children and future generations. So let’s get to work.
In solidarity, Tina