What Now? 5 Concrete Things You Can Do In The Wake of the 2016 Election

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By Jessica Barbara

I am devastated by the election results and have been wallowing for two days feeling helpless.  However, because of my immense privilege, a Trump presidency with a Republican Congress and the possibility of pro-life religious right Supreme Court judges won’t have the potential to affect me as drastically as it might for so many other people who don’t have my privileges (race, class, geography, gender identity, education, etc.).  I am especially disappointed by the knowledge that so many other educated white women still voted for Trump.  Hillary Clinton won the popular vote largely thanks to women of color.  If we couldn’t do enough during the election itself, maybe there is more that we could do now.  I can see that a lot of us feel like we need to do something with all of this negative energy and turn it into action, but it’s hard to know where to start.  Here are some ways that I plan to take advantage of my privilege so that other people can benefit from it.  Maybe these are things that you can do too.

1. If you have some extra money, donate.

A lot of people have already posted the suggestion of donating to Planned Parenthood, and that is a good start.  There are several organizations and causes that will also be helpful to marginalized groups, such as the ACLU, HRC, Happy Hippie Foundation (but if you don’t like Miley Cyrus you can find a local LGBT community center to donate to instead), and if you know of other ideas, post them in the comments!  Other ways to help financially at an individual level might be to support a transgender person’s GoFundMe account so that they can get surgery or pay for hormone therapy as soon as possible (if they plan to).  The same goes for people with disabilities who may need medical care or specialized housing.  Public services for all kinds of people may be cut in the next few years, and private support could make the difference in someone’s quality of life.

2. If you know people who feel unsafe right now, keep them company.

Offer to walk or ride with them to  places where they need to go, or sit with them if necessary.  I know it’s not possible for everyone, but I’m willing to let friends crash in my spare room or on my couch if they don’t feel safe or comfortable in their living situation anymore.  If you have a car and some extra time, drive people places so they don’t have to walk or take public transportation at night if they’ve been getting harassed.  On that note, the illustrator Maeril made this handy guide for how to help someone through an incident of street harassment if you see it happening (the artist used the case of Islamophobic harassment, but it could work for any situation).

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3. If you have a useful skill or degree, share it.

If you’re a lawyer, there is a lot you can do for people who need quick advice on how to get/extend a visa, stay (or get) married, or change their names before the possibility of those rights/legal statuses disappear.  If you speak another language, you might help someone translate documents or pass information on to people who aren’t fluent in English.  Sharing this document might also really help people figure out how to protect themselves in the event that certain rights or services become limited. Here’s a list of lawyers and law students who have already agreed to help!

4. Don’t fall asleep during the midterm elections.

The President only has the power to do so much.  Congress makes laws and approves Supreme Court appointments.  A lot of people of the Democrat persuasion didn’t feel as much passion for our candidate as they did against the other candidate.  I don’t think that energy served us well.  Channel what you’re feeling now into passion for electing good Representatives and Senators!  You have the opportunity to vote more than once every four years.  Be inspired by that.

5. Perhaps most importantly, be kind to each other, even people who disagree with you.

The thing I find most scary and heartbreaking about Trump’s election isn’t what he might actually do as much as the negative, hateful atmosphere he seems to be creating in our country. The best way to combat that is by embodying a spirit of tolerance ourselves.  I’m not saying you should tolerate bigotry or violence (you shouldn’t), but just to try to understand each other more.  If you teach or have children, don’t let younger generations grow up with resentment and suspicion toward people different from them.  I’m an antisocial, introverted person who has avoided speaking out or connecting with a lot of people in the past few years, but now seems like a good time to open up again.  I’ve ironically felt so much positivity from like-minded people on social media over the last couple of days and I think there’s a lot we can do just by being supportive of one another.  There are probably some people who might need our support the most, but they’re laying low for a while because they just don’t feel safe right now.  Reach out to them too.


{featured image courtesy of twitter}

One thought on “What Now? 5 Concrete Things You Can Do In The Wake of the 2016 Election

  1. unscriptedcafe says:

    Thank you. I especially love your last point. It is time to heal, and open our hearts. I also appreciate your infographic on harassment. Thank you for taking a moment to give us concrete ways to shift our focus from loss to empowerment.

    Like

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