White hate won last Tuesday night. There is no other way to say this.
Since then, I, like many of my fellow Americans, have been waiting to wake up from this fever dream. The fact that a pussy-grabbing racist is going to run the country for the next four years is unbearable.
In the past few days, I’ve watched social media feeds flood with messages of disbelief, sadness and, worst of all, fear. This is the same fear I saw this morning on the face of a black teen waiting for the bus, the same fear that made me reconsider the fit of a skirt before leaving my house last night, the same fear I heard in my Muslim sisters voice when she shared how she explained the election to her children, and the same fear I saw in my funerary class the day after the election.
The fact is, black, brown, female, LGBTQ, immigrant, and Muslim bodies are now under the threat of the uncertain. On top of that, simply existing as a female right now feels political. Not knowing how our bodies will be controlled come January perpetuates this fear. The radical hate expressed since election night — on college campuses, at gas stations, and on public property — has also fanned the flames of Trump’s fear mongering platform.
So, what now? Wednesday night at a planned-before-the-election-supposed-to-be-celebratory- turned-postmortem-dinner, we asked ourselves this question while crying into glasses of bourbon, gin, wine and whatever else would help dull the pain of this growing cavity. I sat with friends at a table, barely eating, with fear as our centerpiece. Most of us are artists and educators; most of us spent part of the Wednesday crying in bathroom stalls between classes.
In the months, weeks and days leading up to the election, I saw riffs of love and solidarity spread across communities. Online, women in support of Hillary Rodham Clinton, shared personal stories about sexual assault, being overlooked at job interviews, triumphs, and motherhood in solidarity with other women. Within my city I saw early voters volunteering to give rides to others, a 74-year-old activist canvassing alongside her millennial daughter, and groups of female artists come together to voice their support of our first female president. On November 8th, the exquisite line of people waiting to visit Susan B. Anthony’s grave filled me with a hope and love for humanity. I could see the glass ceiling shattering and hear the country’s collective exhale knowing there was no way we’d elect a reality TV star with multiple sexual assault charges filed against him as our president. Surely, no way.
Fast-forward to today — it is difficult to believe how quickly hope can unravel. So, we must ask ourselves, what now?
- If you feel like your heart has shattered, mourn in whatever way helps you, and then remember the unity and hope we experienced as a nation leading up to the election.
- Be the change. Don’t just grieve for immigrants—fight for immigrants. Donate to Planned Parenthood and to the ACLU. Sign petitions like this one or this one. Walk alongside others (or in place of others who are too scared to yell “Not My President”) in protests.
- Get offline and interact with people #IRL, (as my students say) in real life. Yes, the lure of a curated feed is hard to resist, but people are scared at your local supermarkets, at parks, at cafes, on the bus, at your place of employment, and basically anywhere else where hate may be looming. Be available for those who may need you.
- Gather your tribe. Yes, seek out people who are as enraged, scared, sad as you are and begin to plan how to be unabashedly informed and involved in upcoming local and national civil affairs.
- Practice radical love.
Many of my college students voted for the first time this election.
On the day after the election, I stood in front of a group of completely defeated young adults. As an educator, I put as much of my heart into a pep talk of sorts that encouraged them to continue practicing the privilege to vote locally and nationally and to turn their rage into positive action. As a human being, I was struggling and my words were cut short when a heavy ball of sorrow swallowed my last syllables. “Just please, don’t become apathetic after this, we cannot stay quiet,” I said as tears began to gather. We spent the rest of the class workshopping poems they wrote in response to a social justice art show we recently attended as a class.
The poems examined the lives of wrongfully convicted prisoners, the journey refugees take across the Mediterranean, the redundancy of building walls as boundaries, and the reality of being a woman in today’s society. Empathy was the common thread across their writing. Although the mood was somber, their poems gave me hope in the midst of doom and uncertainty. My students’ poems showed me that in order to be fearless in a hateful world one must practice love.
This country was far from perfect before Trump, but his presidency will set us behind, especially if we do nothing. And we cannot afford this, nor can our very fragile planet. Now, more than ever, we must learn to be stronger together. We must stand with black, brown, female, LGBTQ, immigrant, and Muslim community members and work to elevate voices that are often unheard or silenced. From one nasty woman to another, let’s make love trump hate to transform this country into the inclusive, progressive, and kind place it has the potential to be one day.