by Phoebe Sandlin
Very early Wednesday morning, November 9th, 2016, the world as we know it ended.
Not really, but I’m sure it felt like that to a lot of people.
It is difficult to have been hopeful and angry for years, to have worked so hard, to strive for change, to see it all crumble down and then to have people turn around and say “anger is not needed now, we need to stand united, we need to move forward in love and peace,” as though all of the trauma and fear can vanish overnight like a fairytale. As if for generations pieces of this “American” society have not made an “Other” of so many people. I could list off the different kinds of “other” we use today, but there are so many labels we reduce people to that it would take more space than I have to name them all.
I think the most important thing post-election is unity (don’t blast me for this—just listen). Your anger is valid. Our anger is valid, but there is a wisdom in unity, even the unity extended by the hands of unsuspecting hypocrites. Donald Trump is going to be our president, and that isn’t likely to change. We can continue to protest, to show our dissatisfaction and to fight for the causes we believe in (Standing Rock, Black Lives Matter, closing the gender gap in all areas of life, investing in renewable energy and caring for the environment), but those battles will need all of the energy and strength we have, so don’t waste it by yelling at Trump voters, ranting on Facebook or taking the day off because you’re emotionally distraught.
And I hate to say it—it brings back bitter memories of watching the election coverage until Hillary herself went home—but even as we protest, we have to hope desperately that Trump succeeds. Even if he doesn’t champion our causes, we have to hope that he won’t roll them back and that he won’t bring the apocalypse so many people are expecting. We can survive four years.
“Can we really?” every threatened, marginalized and constantly-put-upon group asks. Yes. Even though we have to live with the frightening knowledge that the rest of America knowingly put a bigoted, imbecilic, unqualified, misogynistic, alleged rapist man in the White House. We can also live with the knowledge that people are still fighting, though. All of the high emotions could mean violence or it could mean discourse, getting things done through force of will. We aren’t powerless, and we can’t all move to Canada and abandon our country.
So, stay strong in the face of oppression. Keep your hope for the future, no matter how difficult. Champion the causes you believe in. Be there for friends and family who are threatened by the new, shifting social order. Kill with kindness. This will not always be the world we know. There’s a better one waiting for us, so we just have to endure.