You guys, I have had an incredible amount of people reach out to me in the last 8 days. From people that I haven't talked to literally in years, to my very best friends. The texts and messages began rolling in as I was outside the Javits center in NYC, while we all watched in shock as Trump won state after state after state. The messages varied from "WTF" to "I feel sick" to "Kaitlin I know this must be hard for you are you ok?" and let me tell you, every single message meant the world to me.
I actually got one that said "DO SOMETHING!!" and in that moment I felt so absolutely helpless that I wasn't sure how to even text her back, but since then, I've found inspiration in a few things that are helping me get ready to do that something.
1. People are Getting Involved
While this certainly includes the protestors, that's not all I mean. I have seen more people calling, writing to, and meeting with their reps and senators in the last week than when #Kony2012 was my entire life. (If you know, you know.) Your local government and federal representatives have a lot of power over your community and your day to day life. In fact, one of the messages I received in the aftermath of the election said "Luckily we both live in a state that truly appreciates diversity and different points of view. This makes a big difference in our daily lives." While this is true, I'm incredibly hopeful that because of the vast increase in tangible political activism I've seen and felt in my personal network, we can maintain a level of safety for those most threatened by the goals of this administration, even outside of a progressive or diverse community.
My hope in political involvement is emboldened by my friends across the world doubling down to help refugees in their own communities, based on the US election, my own Fiancee and I getting serious about volunteering more of our time, and this amazing statement made by California legislators. I am proud that they represent my great chosen home.
2. This Message
While this message still stings and I strongly believe we ran more than just a 'good campaign,' context is important here. This particular Facebook friend and I agree on virtually nothing politically. We have engaged in discussion and debate over gun control, healthcare, refugee relocation, ISIS, Clinton's emails, I mean seriously. This person strongly supported Trump. It took me a day and a half to even reply to the message because of my intense sadness over Clinton's loss. But now that I'm working on coming to grips with Trump's win, and realizing that I don't have time to be sad, that my activism has to start NOW, this message gives me hope that some Trump voters do want to hear our voices too, and are willing to engage with us politically. It would be in their interest to tell me that I lost and to not engage in politics anymore because my voice was clearly and decisively wrong, but they didn't. And this message gave me a little spark under me to get active, and fast.
3. The Tricky Popular Vote (and the fact that almost 50% of the electorate didn't vote.)
While obviously this is incredibly disheartening from a political perspective, and I'll write plenty more on that later, from a humanist perspective, it gives me a little relief. I woke up last Wednesday in a country I didn't recognize, that had seemingly chosen a future of racial and religious monotony, of environmental ignorance, and of incredible inequality. I couldn't understand how the country that I have so much pride in could choose such a leader. This is still something I am having a hard time with, to be honest, but knowing that so few Americans (somewhere around 27%) actively chose Trump as their leader makes me feel slightly more at ease with the fellow citizens helping me build this country. I am not the minority.
In the end, I believe that we'll be okay. I know that my community will boldly and loudly stand up against hatred, racism, and a reversal of rights hard fought. Justin and I have talked about how easy it would be for us to make the decision to stand in the way of a border wall, if construction of one were to appear. I will continue to call my elected officials and will fly to DC to march without a doubt if LGBT rights are threatened, or my right to reproductive decisions are called into question, or muslims are blamed for terrorism and banned from our country. There are millions of us in America that will not let our country reverse course without a fight, and THAT gives me hope.
I also know that it is easier for me to say that, as a white, straight, middle class woman living in California. I know my hope may come sooner than yours. But I have got to get to WORK. It's the only thing I know how to do. If you feel threatened by this administration, please write to me and tell me how I can be a better ally for you.
If you are trying to figure out what to do, Huffington Post has a good list here, and this post being shared has a lot of GREAT information on how to call your reps, and what exactly to say when you get them on the phone. Let me just tell you, my calls with my reps are never more than about 30 seconds. It's like leaving a voicemail. The staffers answer, you say what you've called to say, the staffer says thanks and maybe asks your name and zip code, and you hang up and go on with your day. DO IT. It will make a difference. And what we really need right now are those who are willing to go out of their way to make a difference. <3