Let’s talk about self-care, survival and activism in a Trump World, framed by arts and intersectional feminism. There’s been a lot written out there about how to survive and how we move past this, but several use blame, shame and derision. Needless to say, our staff here at the Female Gaze does not believe this is productive. This particular post is more about specific actions, geared towards mostly white people. This post is about now, reminding us of the importance of activism. The burden falls on allies to fix what has happened, and to prevent this from happening again.
For some, these suggestions will be too little or too much. You are the only one who knows what can be done by yourself and what fits for you.
Social Justice is far from a one size fits all solution. I am writing as someone who strongly dislikes moral purity and black and white ideologies. So this won’t be perfect. This movement isn’t perfect because if it was, we wouldn’t have Trump as a President-Elect. We got Trump because we can’t agree on the color of Starbucks cups in November, much less how to proceed with social change. But I am hoping that it can at least be a starting place for people who simply don’t know what to do right now.
1.) Donate to organizations that provide direct support to marginalized people
I do not mean throw your money around as a way to assuage some guilt. Do some self-reflection on what matters to you and what you think we need to move past this. Do some research. A lot of times you’ll find the large organizations aren’t all that they need to be. They can’t always fit local needs, the needs that drove many otherwise apathetic voters to go for Trump.
Special Note: A small, monthly donation where you say you do not require a thank you means the most for organizations. They can count on that funding.
2.) Buy local, from POC and women, buy less and buy sustainable
It does matter how we spend our money. When we buy from our local farmers markets, we are telling individuals that the hours they spend in the cold wet dirt matter. It shows we stand in solidarity with the craftspeople who put care and effort into their goods. When we buy local, we get a chance to connect and develop relationships with our communities.
When we buy less, we cause less pollution and waste.
The more money that stays local, the less gentrification. The less gentrification, the less division between social classes, and thus racial stratification.
3.)Wear a safety pin or other signs of solidarity but have a plan
Solidarity is never perfect. But symbols of resistance add up to an increase in morale and public acknowledgement something is wrong. But don’t wear a pin because you think you’re cool or no longer complicit in oppressive systems. You have to know what you would do in a situation and follow through with action should it arise. This post is the best to start that thought process.
4.) Have real conversations with people who don’t agree with you
In thinking about how I was trained to deal with difficult topics, what always stood out to me was that “truly” liberal politics is a lot of ideological purity. That if you didn’t agree or understand something, you were inherently stupid or otherwise problematic.
This is a very short term way of thinking and has in large part fostered the divide between “Coastal Elites” and “Small Town Working Class.” No one likes being “told how things work.” It’s not about respectability politics, it’s a chess game. It’s about reaching people who otherwise see you as an abstract.
For example: I remember from years of talking to my dad about how being gay isn’t a choice. It wasn’t part of his life until I was able to tell him that one of my friends that he knew was gay and felt really unsafe in our hometown that he saw it as something beyond just an idea.
5.) Go see some art. Support the arts
Again, staying local. Art tells us a lot more about humanity if we care to look and think for a second. I’m not talking about going to snap a picture of the local Van Gogh. I’m talking about going to gallery openings and talking to people about what you see. Art can soothe and challenge us. And we’re all gonna need some soothing for the next four years.
6.) Educate your damn self
Many people who voted for Trump believed that he had simple solutions. And it’s a clarion call in our society: K.I.S.S. Keep it Simple Stupid. We have this notion that simplicity is best.
Yet, for systematic problems, it’s just not. Like do we *actually* believe that abortion rates will go down to zero if we just make abortions illegal? We need complex solutions for our complex problems, and the populace having a higher baseline of knowledge is going to get a lot closer to electing people with more depth of thought than we currently do.
It’s also not on anyone of a marginalized group to explain to you why they are upset, scared or nervous or what problems are. We live in the information age. You can Google pretty much any question and come up with a reasonable set of data.
Example: You can Google, “Why are women scared of men at night?” You don’t need to ask your female friend why she never likes to walk alone at night, not until you learn something on your own.
You should also read something besides the ideas of some white, straight, ivory tower educated, working class, female progressive.
7.) Stop blaming everything for it. Take action
“It was 3rd party voters, it was the Democratic National Committee, it was Hillary being a bad candidate, it was the electoral college.” That’s what dominating Facebook Feeds now.
To be entirely frank, it was on all of us and our history. It was not just anyone. If we can all individually blame something, then it’s not on any one thing.
I get it, many of us are dealing with some nasty feelings. But feelings don’t get living wages, they don’t get fair housing, they
don’t get rid of the electoral college. They help motivate us but if that’s where it stops, it hasn’t really helped.
Taking action can be self-education, can be making a plan for wearing safety pins, it can be spending hours at a literacy program, it can be a protest. It can be making these phone calls to your elected officials.
8.) Take a break.
Like most of our readers probably know, it’s really exhausting to struggle for Peace and Justice. It’s hard to always be reading articles that make us uncomfortable and then have to think about it critically. It’s really hard to be afraid to go to the bank at night because you might get assaulted. I’m sure it can be really scary to wear a hijab in Ann Arbor right now. So it’s fine if you take some action and do something for yourself. It’s ok to be imperfect. It’s ok to be scared, it’s ok to not buy sustainable every time. Otherwise, we are going to burn out and have a bunch of half-filled ideas half done.
I know I can’t personally do a whole lot directly as someone working two service industry jobs at 56 hours a week. So I’ll be here, ready to listen. Ready to say something when some garbage pops up. I’d like to do more, but I have to pay my rent and pay off my loans.
If you’re serious about defeating Trump in 2020, this has to be more like a lifestyle. We need to work towards the midterm election in 2018 to gain in back. It can’t just be about Trump. It has to be about something greater. Building a world that supports everyone is my reason for doing these things. I hope we can all find our own reason that will sustain us.