MITIGATING THE DAMAGE
Okay. Deep breath.
I'm sitting here on my lunch break at work, still trying to get myself to that acceptance part of the Kubler-Ross grief scale. I knew that last night's election results were going to be tight. I grew up in North Carolina, after all. I still live in a blue bubble within that red state. But I thought despite the gerrymandering and coordinated voter suppression, we might still squeak by and avoid electing a KKK-endorsed xenophobic misogynist. I was too optimistic.
It isn't just him coming to power that scares me, but what it means - emboldened racists, homophobes, and Islamophobes, more danger for my friends and neighbors, and even some members of my family. I want to protect them. I wish I could physically shield them from what I'm afraid is coming, but I can't.
I hardly slept last night. I went to bed late, after it became clear Trump was going to win, and then woke up periodically and lay there, trying to think of what I could possibly do to mitigate the damage. Maybe you're like me, and they only way to deal with your grief and anxiety is to turn it into action. If so, here's what I suggest we do.
1) Watch out for each other. Emotions are going to be high today, and assholes are going to be emboldened. Whatever privilege you have, use it to help others more vulnerable than you. This illustration by artist Maeril is a good starting place:
2) Reach out. Let your friends and neighbors know you are there for them by asking what they need and how you can help. If you need help yourself, don't feel bad about asking.
3) Pick a social justice organization and donate to it. These organizations are going to be our bulwark in the coming months and years. I'm picking the NC NAACP, because of all the amazing work they've done combating voter suppression efforts in North Carolina, and because they are a wonderful ally to LGBT organizations like the Campaign for Southern Equality and Equality NC. You can find more suggestions on my "A Better World" page, and on this list of "Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth Anti-Bigotry Organizations that Need Your Help" from Jezebel.
4) Take care of yourself. Take a bath. Read a book. Don't forget to eat something. Hug the people you love.
The Coming Weeks and Months
1) Remember that organization you donated to? Volunteer for them. You can't volunteer everywhere, but you CAN pick one place where you can focus and make a difference.
2) Keep checking in with your friends and neighbors. The one thing that fights hate is community.
3) Expand your own education about both our country's history of discrimination and the current issues we're facing. Not just on national issues, but local ones, too. Know ahead of time what to look for in a candidate during the next election.
4) Register to vote, if you haven't already. Urge your friends and family to register, too.
5) Advocate to reinstate the Voting Rights Act. Write to your congressional representatives. Talk to people you know. The fact that that this law was effectively not in practice this year led to a slew of abuses in my state of North Carolina and elsewhere. This article is a good starting place for understanding the importance of the VRA.
6) Keep taking care of yourself.
Next Year - 2017
1) Vote in your local elections. Municipalities often pass laws and ordinances about issues such as minimum wage and equality protections that provide a framework and testing ground for state or national laws. Often, the people in power in your city or county go on to have greater power at a higher level of government. They also will have the most direct impact on your life in the short-term.
2) Gear up for the 2018 midterm elections. There will be different Congressional or gubernatorial races in different states, but chances are, there will be an importance race wherever you live. Start researching the candidates and volunteer for or donate to the one who is most in line with your principles. They may not be perfect, but in politics, that saying about the enemy of the good being the perfect really goes.
3) Keep taking care of yourself and your friends and neighbors. This is going to be a long, rough ride, but we can get through it together.
I'm probably forgetting something or don't yet know about other important things you can do, so feel free to add suggestions in the comments. I love you guys. Hold each other tight and keep each other safe.