Eva wrote this right after the election. When I asked her if she’d like to update it in any way before publication, she replied that she wanted to leave the article as-is because it’s a true reflection of how she was feeling at the time. “If anything,” she said, “I would be a bit more strident, writing today.” I think that sentiment is true for many of us. Rather than witnessing the election, reacting to it, and then letting our anger/sadness/motivation fizzle, we’re made more worried and outraged with each ridiculous cabinet appointment. Eva’s sincere questioning indicates a useful mindset moving forward: one of commitment to each other, of curiosity and openness, and one that is brave enough to be uncomfortable, uncertain, but always striving. — Sarah Hoenicke, Arts & Culture Editor
I am feeling fiery today. Ready to burn through the confusion and disbelief, the numbness and nausea. Fueled by coffee and buoyed by yoga, I am full of vim and vinegar and grounded in self-care.
Since Wednesday, I’ve been reading the reams of reactions and feeling the energy in my local community. There’s the anger. There’s the disbelief. There’s the incredulity. There’s the despair and the fuck-it attitudes. There’s the hopeful voices, and the motivational organizing ones. There’s the patronizing don’t-worry-it’s-not-so-bad articles, and the panicked/fearful rebuttals. There are even a few grateful reactions in my personal social media echo chamber. In all, I scroll through about a dozen shades of emotion each time I obsessively check this stream.
I’ve been writing longhand, journalling, and avoiding too much conversation about my own reactions. I’ve let the emotions flow through streams of ink, waiting to feel like I had a contribution to offer to the outer world. My fuel was sparked today by this article: “Why your reaction to the election may say more about you than the election.”
Disclaimer: in my opinion, this falls into the aforementioned category of “patronizing don’t-worry-it’s-not-so-bad” with a dash of motivational organization. I found it useful because it created in me an internal dissonance as I had to struggle to articulate why I both likes parts and yet felt gross about the article as a whole. Specifically, I found the following questions from Edwards’s article both patronizing and minimizing of the experience of people who have experienced racism, classism, sexism, hate crimes, etc:
- “Did you misplace your confidence?”
- “Did you buy the lie that you’re a victim if the opponent wins?”
- “Did you swallow the idea that one person can fix our problems?”
- “Did you drink the partisan Kool-Aid that said, ‘if the other person wins we’re all doomed’?”
What follows is an adaptation of my (lengthy) comments spurred by the presentation of the article.
My teacher friends have seen a palpable uptick in white supremacist bullying at their schools since Wednesday. Trump’s racist rhetoric–and that he was elected–has given credence to bigotry. I am saddened and angered by the people he appoints and surrounds himself with, such as NOW, an anti-LBGTQ organization bent on removing the right to marry of many of my dear friends. Trump himself may be a flip-flopper, saying whatever would get him elected, but he has chosen to be represented and celebrated by racists and sexists. As a survivor of sexual assault and an activist who seeks to end sexual assault, I am dismayed and depressed to go from a president who has championed victims and survivors by creating programs to end sexual assault on campuses to a president-elect who has been accused by over a dozen women–and has admitted guilt–of sexual assault. This is a huge setback in our national, already rape-culture-supporting atmosphere.
But this does not mean the world is ending. It is not. As a friend and I talked about the other day, it means that it is time to get to work to affect the change we want. I did not want to throw an ugly monkey wrench into Washington politics (which is one of “bright sides” I’ve heard about the election’s outcome); that’s not my style. But that’s what happened, and I find myself motivated, clear-minded, full of plans and visions and ready to get off my ass and “be the activist today that I wish I’d been months ago” (Thanks, Colleen Sollars for that viewpoint). I’m reading books, sharpening my words, organizing, and preparing to get involved in 2018 mid-term elections to support candidates who represent me better. I’m donating to Planned Parenthood, supporting local environmental groups, and donating first money and later time to rape crisis centers. I’m learning the language to stand beside and defend my brown and black family and friends against racism.
And, finally, yes, I agree with the headline of the article, if not its spirit of downplaying the very real reasons people have to be concerned by a Trump presidency. Yes, people’s reactions say a lot. If you are scared, angry, depressed, blue, or panicked, then, chances are, you are reliving very real memories of a time–or many times–when you have been hurt because someone was full of hate for your community. If you feel hopeless, maybe it’s because you are in a position of need and really wanted a champion. If you are ready to fight for your rights, I bet your reaction has been one or all of the above.
Although I understand and support the spirit of the sentiment contained in the phrase, “Not my President,” I don’t find this rallying cry helpful. Americans did lawfully elect Drumpf, so he will be my President due to the simple fact that I am American. I respect the office, the peaceful transition of power, and the democratic process.
Now, have I lost faith in the last? Yes. But I’m not ready to get rid of it; I’m going to work to improve it.
Do I like the way that our laws put someone who lost the popular vote into power? Nope. I want to change that, too. The constructive way to do this is to get involved in my local branch of the Democratic Party, not to throw monkey wrenches.
Will I accept him as fit to be Commander-in-Chief? No. I will support efforts to bring him to court for abuse of civil liberties (go ACLU!); I will encourage my members of congress to open an investigation into his Russian ties (see recent Huffington Post article), and will hope he gets impeached. I will work to get out the vote in upcoming elections. Think about this: less than quarter of the population actually voted for him–half the nation neglected their civil duty to vote.
So, if you’ve been telling people not to worry; it’s not so bad, please consider the following words, (credit to @SonofBaldwin):
We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.”
Also, ask yourself the following questions:
- “Did I misplace my empathy?”
- “Did I buy the lie that a president supported by racist entities would not spark a rise in open racism?”
- “Did I buy the lie that the outcomes of this election would not have an effect on the national psyche?”
- “Have I examined where in my life I might have privileges which protect me from the effects of such a change?”