it hasn’t quite been a month since trump was elected to be the president of the united states, but it feels like it’s been a lot longer than that. i spent the first week or so oscillating between feelings of depression and numbness. it was a big wakeup call for me in realizing how invested i was in the democratic status quo, in spite of my politics and my heart which tells me that a democratic regime is also volatile to muslims, black folks and other people of color, immigrants, incarcerated people, and poor folks.
i feel clear that clinton being elected wouldn’t have been a victory, and some argue it wouldn’t have even been harm reduction. but in trump being elected, congress turning red, and dangerously right-wing white men being appointed to top white house positions, even i as an enormously privileged, able-bodied, white queer person could be impacted in terms of healthcare, discrimination, and safety on the street. in case you haven’t heard, hate crimes and harassment of the above-mentioned identities has spiked big time, most notably in elementary and middle schools across the country. i reject the rhetoric of being “shocked” by trump’s election, because that ignores the white supremacy and patriarchy that our country was founded on. but it’s indeed an indicator of the scary and dangerous times that are already here, and are about to get scarier, especially for muslims, immigrants, and others sitting at different intersections of marginalized identities.
anyway, part of the reason i haven’t gotten around to sharing my thoughts and reflections here is because i am feeling more than ever the importance of listening to and learning from grassroots organizations and impacted communities who are on the frontlines of oppressive violence.
i’ve started a study group with my three sisters, all of whom are younger and brilliant in their own ways, all of whom are at different places in their political journeys. it is helpful and powerful to connect with my family of origin in that way, as we were all raised as white women and all taught (mostly covertly) to buy into racism in a way that is specific to white girl/womanhood. it’s also a helpful practice for me as a radical in my late 20s to always be working to pull people i love into the movement, rather than isolate them with a ‘radder than thou’ attitude and language. i’m grateful that my immediate family of origin are not trump supporters, and i think these conversations about unlearning white supremacy would be a lot more difficult to sustain if so. but it’s important for all white folks to be having these conversations right now, no matter how much we might ourselves despise trump and all he stands for.
i wanted to share a few quotes and articles i’ve found helpful in processing what’s happened and what’s happening in regards to trump’s election:
“Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of “healing” and “not becoming the hate we hate” sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators. The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity.”
– chimamanda ngozi adichie, “now is the time to talk about what we are actually talking about”
“Perhaps this is why seeing another white person holding a ‘Love Trumps Hate’ sign makes me cringe and nearly ready to go home. It is not hate people of color are facing, its violence, deportation, seizure of land, denied resources, and murder. People of color have always dealt with hatred, that is the reality of our existence under white supremacy. Reducing it to hate is a mischaracterization of our grievances. We are not protesting against hate because hate is a feeling. We are protesting against oppression and domination. We are protesting against the predictably of whiteness–that it will always win, which inevitably means we have lost.”
– amina pugh, “love doesn’t trump hate. accountability does.”
“Both Clinton’s and Obama’s phrases about the peaceful transfer of power concealed the omission of a call to action. The protesters who took to the streets of New York, Los Angeles, and other American cities on Wednesday night did so not because of Clinton’s speech but in spite of it. One of the falsehoods in the Clinton speech was the implied equivalency between civil resistance and insurgency. This is an autocrat’s favorite con, the explanation for the violent suppression of peaceful protests the world over.”
– masha gessen, “autocracy: rules for survival”
i’m inspired by all the people and organizing i see that is proactively offering support and defense for those who are most impacted. i see money being collected for undocumented folks to get their papers, for transgender people to get their legal name, gender, and surgeries lined up and their hormones stockpiled, for low-income women and others with uteruses to access IUDs and other forms of birth control. i am wary of the calls for “unity” that i hear from liberals (see the “women’s march on washington” fiasco), and simultaneously recognize the urgency of coming together to realize our struggles are connected. and unless we put the most vulnerable communities’ needs front and center, they will inevitably get swept under the rug and forgotten.
meanwhile in oakland, many of my loved ones and many more people i’ve lived with, worked with, and otherwise shared space with are grieving the 40+ who died in a fire at a warehouse party on saturday night. it wasn’t a freak accident; there is a housing crisis in the bay area, and DIY artists are among the many people getting pushed to materially unsafe spaces. (a little more on that topic as it pertains to the fire here.)
i want to share one more article i found to be full of truth and compassion, by adrienne maree brown:
we need to learn, together, how to grieve or respect the space for the grief of others in our community – without using it as a moment to educate those who are grieving. about anything. i think we buy into the rapid river pace of social media and think we only have five minutes to say everything that needs to be said about a topic. this is not true. we have to protect the time and space needed to grieve.
and: we don’t know better than the multitude of tribal leaders on the frozen ground at standing rock. indigenous communities are well aware, after 500 years of dealing with this country’s genocidal campaigns, not to let down any guard. when we see them telling us the news of this victory step with tears in their eyes, we need to check any part of ourselves that wants to talk down to them and say, ‘you are wrong, because…’
kandi mossett said this in her facebook live video, which i am posting below and recommend watching: ‘we have survived genocide. for 500 years we have not changed our story – you have to care for the earth so she can care for us.’ and tokata iron eyes, a 13-year-old who lives at standing rock, said ‘i feel like i have my future back!’
they don’t say these things because they lack context or information or misunderstand the patterns of this country and need non-native people to educate them. they say these things with lifelong experiences of being in this battle for the planet, against nations.
the victories are few but they nourish all of us, help us to understand the potential of intersectional peoples’ power. we have to protect the time and space needed to celebrate.
what holds us together is community and story.
stop telling communities they have their story wrong.
examine what it is in you that needs to counter things you hear from people directly impacted by oppression.
grieve with oakland. celebrate with standing rock. and keep doing your own work.
– adrienne maree brown, don’t patronize us/them (from oakland to standing rock)
i have personal updates to share soon, as well, but this is quite long and exhausting enough.
i’m sending my best wishes for everyone reading this to check in with themselves, check in with your people, figure out how to support those going through it right now. maybe it’s showing up to protests, giving money, helping people navigate bureaucracy, lending an ear or a shoulder to cry on. it’s felt like a particularly dark world lately, and we all need every bit of kindness we can get.