As wrong as I wish I had been, I predicted on July 25th that Donald Trump would win the U.S. election and become our 45th president. Now, here we are. It’s been 7 days and we’re witnessing the beginnings of what the next 4 years have in store for us. We’ve seen news of climate change denier becoming head of the EPA & the man who’s claimed his website is the hub of the “alt-right” movement become the President-Elect’s chief strategist.
Long story short, for anyone who isn’t conservative & white, life in the United States has become some kind of dystopian alternate reality. We can sit here and try to identify how this happened. I can go on and on about how mainstream media created this monster, and lost control of it. We can look at how the Democratic party lost touch with the working class and rural white people. I can examine how identity politics, a byproduct of the late 1960s thanks to people like William F Buckley, Jr., and ignoring history got us here. A more pressing matter for me is this: what the hell am I gonna do?
Well, aside from listening to David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans” ad-nauseum, I’ve doing a few things:
Protect myself. Every day, my Facebook feed is littered with reports of people being harassed and even become victims of violence. The perpetrators? Angry white people who have been emboldened by Trump’s election victory, and now feel they can openly be hostile towards others with impunity. As a Latina & a transgender woman, this puts me squarely in their crosshairs. So, I talked to a few people about self-defense. Eventually, I wound up purchasing a Sabre Pepper Gel Kit. It virtually guarantees blowback, it’s easy to use, safe to use indoors, is more practical than a stun gun or taser versus a group of attackers, comes with a practice target
& canister and retails at $20. It’s a two pack, so I can keep one and either have the other as a spare or give it to a loved on. I am a lot of things, but one thing I will not be is a victim.
- Further my involvement in my community. It goes without saying that the worst will happen if we do nothing. In the spirit of that, I’ve made a commitment to help those who may be victimized by the incoming administration. I will be volunteering a local LGBT youth space this weekend, to assist transgender men & women get their legal name & gender marker change paperwork in order. In addition, I’ve graciously accepted an invitation to be part of my city’s Transgender Day of Remembrance ceremony. I will be reading two months’ worth of people’s names whom we’ve lost to violence. I’m doing this to, as the saying goes, mourn the dead and fight like Hell for the living.
- Get involved in politics. The vote is a done deal and, barring an unprecedented exercise of power from the Electoral College, we need to start acting now. Call your state leaders in both the House and Senate, and fight each of Trump’s appointments at every step. Email is just not good enough anymore. Luckily, here’s a handy Google doc that makes this easy. All it needs…is your effort. Take the anger, sadness and frustration you felt last Tuesday night, and funnel it into productivity. Make your voice heard, so it matters.
- Listen to people & get out of your echo chamber. The reality is that a good portion of people who voted for Trump did so because our government had failed them. The Democratic party abandoned them long ago (side note: I’m going to register as a different party, as a result). Small, rural towns have been left behind in the wake of globalization, without a means to survive. While we don’t have to forgive the people in our lives that voted for Trump (because they basically said the struggles of minorities aren’t as important as jobs or getting a tax cut), we owe it to ourselves to hear what they have to say. Maybe then, we can help to fight for causes that would prevent them from voting for a demagogue in the future.
- DONATE. There will be plenty of organizations out there, fighting tooth and nail to help mitigate the damage a Trump presidency will do. They are going to need our help, otherwise things will be a LOT worse. Some of the ones I’ve given money to (or plan to, on a recurring basis) include the Transgender Law Center, the ACLU & the Immigrant Defense Project. I also recommend donating to your local women’s health clinic.
To finish, I spent a lot of time trying to find a song that thematically fits. In this case, there’s no better than this Public Enemy classic.
Lemme hear you say
Fight the power
We’ve got to fight the powers that be.