11.10.2016

#TheAmericaWeWant: Comfort and Self Care

Yesterday, the U.S. made the gross mistake of electing Donald Trump to be president. So yesterday I decided to take the #theAmericaWeWant pledge. (Actually yesterday, I invented #theAmericaWeWant pledge - that's right, it's totally made up, I'm literally the only person using this hashtag and that may never change but I don't care.)

I pledged to every day do something (anything, just one thing, no matter how big or small) to help make the America a better place, more like the America we want. Yesterday, day #1, I did literally the bare minimum - I made the pledge and shared it. Many of us are still reeling from the results so it might be difficult to jump into activism and "do-good-ing" already, myself included. So today, for day #2, I'm going to start off slow and focus on comfort and self care.

Yesterday at school, my teenage daughter witnessed a perky blonde girl approach a group of young women of color who were obviously very upset and angry about the election and tell them "don't worry! we're all gonna be fiiine!" They were understandably pissed off and told her that maybe she is gonna be fine, but they are not gonna be fine. I know this girl was just trying to cheer them up, but her approach was completely tone deaf. Sure, maybe we all are going to be fine, but they were right to be angry because they face greater risks and greater obstacles than she does. It's a lot easier for her to be optimistic. Their sadness and anger and fear is understandable and it needs to be let to run its course. The best way to be an ally is to listen, not speak.


If you are white, straight, cis-gender, or have privilege then you can feel however you want to feel about this election (I myself am devastated by it) but you don't get to take up space right now and tell minorities how to feel. We can't possibly truly understand what they are going through right now, even if you think you can. What I'm doing here, that's for me. I need to make myself feel useful so I don't bottom out. But I'm not asking anyone to join me if they're not ready. I've asked for people to make the same pledge I did if they want, but I am not going to tell any member of any marginalized group that they need to do things my way.

Also yesterday a friend complained that she didn't want to be given a "time limit on mourning" the election. Even though she knew that of course, we will fight, we always do, she wasn't ready to roll up her sleeves and get down to it. So today, I want to tell everyone that that is okay.

There is no one correct way to deal with grief. As long as we do deal with it and keep going. Take as much time as you need. I'm trying to turn my negative feelings of sadness and anger and fear into the drive to create positive change. But it's still a struggle. I trust it will get easier every day but it's a struggle. So for today, I just want you all to know that you should do whatever you need to do to be okay. What I felt like I needed to do was find a way to make myself feel useful (so I created a stupid hashtag and pledge). You do what you need to do.

Cry, meditate, throw things, drink (responsibly), go for a run, hug, hug someone, vent on Facebook, unfriend all your racist relatives, call a hotline, watch TV, curl up into a ball and go back to bed... whatever you need to do, do it. Take as much time as you need. Some of you might be ready to spring into action right away, but it's okay if you're not. We will still be here for you when you are. And in the meantime, we've got your back.

I hate this metaphor, but eh, I'll be cliche and say it anyway. On an airplane, if you're traveling with a child (or someone else that needs assistance), you're told to secure your own oxygen mask first, and then assist the other person. You're not going to be of help to anyone else if you're struggling to breathe yourself. So before you put pressure on yourself to fight fight fight, first take a moment to catch your breath. Practice self care. Take care of you first.

And for now, no matter how upsetting this election has been, maybe these few point can give you some minor comfort...
  • Although Donald Trump won the election, Hillary Clinton actually won the popular vote. Although way way too many people in the U.S. voted in favor of a racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, ignorant rapist... the majority of the voters didn't. We have four years to work on getting those numbers down even more, but for now take solace in the fact that there are still a lot of people out there on the correct side of things. 
  • When you look at how 18-25 year olds voted, you'll notice that they overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. This gives me hope for the future. America's youth does see Trump for who he really is and they will vote again in four years, in eight years, in twelve years. 
  • Since the results have been announced, young people have been protesting all over the U.S. at high schools and college campuses. OUR YOUNG PEOPLE ARE READY AND THEY'RE NOT GOING TO LET THIS HAPPEN EVER AGAIN!
  • There are now four women of color in the U.S. Senate - Catherine Cortez Masto (Nevada's first Latina senator), Kamala Harris, Tammy Duckworth, and Maize Hirono - and Ilhan Omar is the first Somali-American woman to be elected to the House of Representatives - that's a black, Muslim, former-refugee woman! Incredible! Although women still aren't represented enough in Congress, there are more women in national and state lawmaking positions than ever before. This is progress.
  • And finally... Hillary Clinton is still inspiring AF. She may not be perfect and she may not have won, but she is still one bad ass, hard working "nasty woman." She put forward an amazing campaign in the face of so much adversity and opposition. We might not be able to give our daughters the first female president this time, but we absolutely have an amazing role model for them. And like I said above, America's young people are watching. Every young woman or little girl that watched Hillary Clinton the last few months (including her concession speech) saw how far women have come. And they saw how much further we have to go. And they're ready to go there.
Honestly, that information does little to help me right now. I'm still sad and angry and frustrated. But I hope that those little glimmers of light in the darkness will help me find my way through the next week, month, year, four years. I am trying not to dwell on what we have lost. I'm trying to take comfort in what we still have and all that there is left to gain.

So if you're not ready to get out and stand up and fight fight fight, that's okay. I am going to fight for you. And if someday you want to join the fight, I will be here to let you lead.

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