I'm a liberal, heterosexual, college-educated, middle-class, white male. I've worked hard to get to where I am now, but the doors were always unlocked. My love has never been questioned. My skin color never the cause of hatred or remark. My gender never mocked. My speech or opinion never belittled. My basic life necessities have never required doctor approval or monthly investments. Those who experience these travesties will now suffer more frequently and more deeply. I voted for Hillary Clinton; that was not enough. From now on, I will do so much more. This is not a confession, this is a call to action.
I, like many, never took the republican presidential candidate seriously. I didn't think he actually wanted to be president. I thought he was saying extreme things to mobilize and excite often overlooked groups of people to vote for him. Sensible people (there must be sensible republicans, right?) will see through this. He is an opportunist. I saw numbers to the contrary (on 538), but I never thought he could win; I didn't consider it a remote possibility.
I've felt a lot of emotions over the last few days. Here's roughly how it went.
I, like many, start the day on Tuesday excited to vote. Excited to watch America elect our first woman president. Excited to watch our country reject the hatred, bigotry, sexism, racism, ableism, and nationalism so deeply rooted in the republican party's recent history (including, of course, the campaign led by their presidential candidate). I, like many, watch election coverage until it becomes clear that this will not happen. Feeling physically ill and emotionally drained, I try to go to sleep.
I wake up on Wednesday (I didn't really sleep) feeling a sense of shame and helplessness about what happened. It's raining. I go to NYC for work meetings. Along my walk to work, I look at faces on the street and see physical pain. I catch passing words from dozens of conversations: "...racist...", "...misogynist...", "...how...", "...scared...". I can't focus on work (I'm not sure how anyone can), but I don't know what else to do. The scope seems incomprehensible, paralyzing. I return home, I hug my crying partner; her basic-level Affordable Care Act health insurance (which is still too expensive and not accepted at many doctors offices) will soon be in jeopardy. She asks me if I will marry her before the ACA is repealed so she can receive dependent healthcare through my plan. Protests erupt in major cities around the country.
I wake up Thursday angry and confused, enraged and flabbergasted at the range of people who support the republican candidate. 66% of white women. An educated republican family on my Connecticut hometown street who have a gay son. My grandmother, who lived through World War II and is still bothered by thunder because she survived the Nazi's blitz bombing of Swansea, Wales. I want to insult the supporters. I want to do damage. I want his supporters to suffer. I realize that that would only do more harm. The beliefs that his supporters hold are irrational. Their hatred, primal. Some think that a privileged millionaire elite from New York City will bring economic growth to the unprivileged working-class everyman. Some think that the man being sued for fraud with ties to the Russian government will end corruption within US politics. Some think that everything he said during the campaign was exaggeration and that we don't actually know anything about how he will govern...comforting. When someone believes, out of faith, something irrational, offending them will only further strengthen their resolve. I think about how when we publicly mock, write off, or joke about their beliefs or him, it strengthens their hatred and emboldens their convictions. We need to fight back in the right way. I feel I need to do something rather than let my own hatred seethe. I donate $50 each to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Emily's list. If you feel frozen and helpless, I urge you to do the same while you thaw --- these organizations are and will be crucial in the stand against the injustice, intolerance, and regression that the president-elect's government will bring.
It's now Friday. People are, once again, making jokes about him. In public, I overhear conversations about sports games. This disturbs me. His cabinet member picks are being announced. Giuliani, Christie, Gingrich. These are not fringe outsiders. These are core republicans. They are not saying no, and they are not denouncing the statements he made during the campaign. The republican party has now publicly endorsed bigotry; there is no such thing as a moderate republican. I still feel helpless, but I am fired up. I decide to write down my emotional trajectory over the past few days, and to collect my thoughts on where to go from here. It helps; I encourage you to do the same.
1) I will offer my support to any in need, and be extra kind and appreciative of family, friends, and colleagues.
2) I will publicly and loudly call out and fight racism, sexism, hate speech, and stand up for the less privileged and marginalized.
3) Every day I will make at least one action to protect less fortunate and underrepresented groups from the forthcoming administration. Whether this is donating $5 to a charity actively fighting for their rights, volunteering, or even just sending information about how to donate to friends and followers. I will do something. Every. Day.
4) I will professionalize my activism and incorporate it into my voice as a scientist. Every talk I give, I will now include at least one slide about why these issues are important to scientists and what they can do to help. The issues at stake are not divorced from science and must be discussed in professional settings.
5) Said best by Lucianne W. (slightly modified): I will not normalize Trump, I will not accept him as my president because he does not speak for me. I will not give him a chance.
6) Also said best by Lucianne W.: I will take care of my body and mind so I am strong enough to stand up for those who need me.
7) I will boycott all major news and media outlets whose unrelenting coverage turned him into a cartoon and normalized his extremism. Who laughed about his hate speech. Who are responsible, in large part, for his election. I don't know of a list of these, but start with: all major news companies (CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, etc.), Saturday Night Live, People magazine.
There are many compiled lists of action items and places to donate. Here are a few that helped me:
Many people have inspired me and helped me, unwittingly. Thanks to Lauren Glattly, Lucianne Walkowicz, Summer Ash, Kelle Cruz, and many more...