What the hell just happened last week?
It seemed as if America was on the cusp of electing its first woman President. Even I had no doubt that Hillary Clinton would walk her sketchy self back into the White House, this time as the most powerful woman in the world. Then something strange, scary, and unexpected happened. The Electoral College elected Donald Trump as the next President of the United States (because the majority of people voted for Hillary).
Throughout election season. I was one of those people who joked about a Trump presidency, believing there was no chance in hell he could actually become our leader. I joked about moving to Canada (which is still on the table), I joked about an apocalypse-like situation (which is still possible). Boy was I and millions of other people wrong (this is why I don't gamble). On January 21, 2017, Donald Trump will officially become our president. Want to know the scariest part? People actually voted for him. Millions. Mostly in the midwest and southern states, because, duh.
While the election result and the reality of this man taking control of the Oval Office hasn't done much to rattle me or affect my state of mind and emotion, I am well-aware of the fact that there are millions of people in this country who truly fear for their lives. They feel hopeless, scared, and unprotected. For the past week, my social media feeds have been rife with sadness, anger, and frustration. The day after the election, the air in New York City just didn't feel right. Even at work, the vibe felt like one at a memorial service. It would be selfish and ignorant of me to propose that everyone just "suck it up," but I know it's not that easy when you feel that your life is threatened. I understand that people need to cry and vent, so I'm not mad at y'all one bit.
But here's the thing. At the end of the day (queue the cliché), we have to live with this decision and figure out how to move forward. As much as we would all like to move to Canada, that's not the best solution. You don't just run away from bad situations. If that's the case, MLK should've led all us black folks back to Africa a long time ago. Like it or not, this is our country and our mess. Despite the animosity and divisiveness between various groups of people in this country, we have to share it. So here's some (sort of) good news that should make you feel a little better and things we can do to be even stronger four or eight years from now (please, not eight).
- Donald Trump won't have as much power as we think he'll have (it's not a dictatorship). There are a lot of things Trump can't do without Congress. Although Congress is mostly controlled by Republicans, I have a strong inclination that blocking Trump and Republicans from moving even an itch forward will be on the left's agenda for years to come.
- Best-case scenario, he only gets four years. Most people liked Obama. Most people hate Trump. He's not getting eight years. But then again, let me not predict anything.
- Trump doesn't know what the fuck he's doing, which means he'll screw up (hopefully it doesn't cost lives). The impeachment process seems very possible if POTUS Trump is anything like candidate Trump.
And here are some things we can do as people to help one another starting today for the duration of Trump's presidency and thereafter:
- Protect women and women's rights. A lot of women feel betrayed. We (especially men) have to make sure that we uplift and acknowledge women's voices to see real change. Plus, organizations like Planned Parenthood are now deeply at risk. We have to do more to protect it and prevent the new government from taking away women's options for controlling their own bodies and health.
- Protect and stand with the disenfranchised. As usual, black and brown folks and other marginalized groups get the short end of the stick. Mass deportations is now possible. Acts of violence stemming from hate and bigotry will rise. Black and brown folks have to stick together. Protect each other. Speak out for each other. We'll eventually be the new majority. Remember that.
- Assemble with a purpose. Don't just protest for shits and giggles. Protest with a purpose. Have a real goal. A policy change, a law proposal, or something. Know who to talk to, and know how to find your leverage. And do it peacefully.
- Keep tabs on what's going on. Now's the time to learn more about your government, bills and policies on the table, and who's doing what and when. If you've never watched C-SPAN a day in your life, now's the time to start. Don't let motherfuckers slip. You can track Congress here.
- Talk to the other side (specifically white folks). Not all Trump supporters and white people are evil. And, surprisingly, a lot of them have the best intentions. For all you conscious and disenfranchised folks out there, now's not the time to become hostile. Try and understand the thought process behind why people believe what they believe and educate as best as you can. Trust me, you can sway people's beliefs. Have an open discussion without hate. Treat people like people, no matter who they are and what they support. Once you do that, I promise you you'll see the results that you seek. At the end of the day, we need white people and conservatives on our team. Real change won't happen without them.
No matter how badly we hate that candy ass, as Hillary and others have said, we owe Trump an open mind. I truly believe that most people aren't as cynical as I am, which means that you all can find it within yourselves to watch over Trump's presidency with an objective mind and a tight fist. Don't let one man put the fear of God in you. We, the people, have the power to change shit.
So relax a bit, America isn't ending yet. And if it does, we'll all go down together, as one united nation. 🇺🇸