We looked forward to it for months. We claimed over and over again that we couldn't wait until it was all over. We thought that once our new president was elected, we would be able to sigh a breath of relief in knowing that we wouldn't have to read the articles, see the posts, and watch the debates anymore. And yet, now that Election Day has come and gone, the reality for many people in our country has moved from one of stress and annoyance over the political atmosphere to one of actual fear and worry over their right to live their lives as themselves.
Following the official election of the new president, I have seen and heard a lot of comments that everyone should just relax and that we should respect and support the new president. There are many things wrong with these sentiments. So, the message I would like to share is this--it is OK to not be OK with the outcome of this election. It is OK to feel worry, concern, and fear over the results, and don't let anyone tell you to ignore these feelings. However, what is not OK is sitting idly by while our country goes through changes that you may not agree with.
Here is a list of 6 small things we can all do to bring more positivity and support back into our nation:
1. Check on your friends. Check in on your female, LBGTQ, Muslim, Black, or Latino friends. Check in on anyone who had horrible things said about them by the president-elect because of the way they look or who they are. Make sure they know they are loved and that they belong.
2. Donate. Donate or set up recurring donations to an organization that you support that may soon be threatened because of the outcome of the election. Find some suggestions of where to start here.
3. Start a conversation. Reach out to someone who doesn't look like you or live their life like you. Ask if you can speak to them about how this election impacts them. Bonus points if you ask how you can be part of the solution or how you can help create a safe space for them in society.
4. Call your elected officials. Elected officials work for their constituency, so make your voice heard. And don't just call once. Call multiple times and have your friends call, too.
5. Speak up. Use your voice to do good. If you see something unfair happening, point it out.
6. Check your privilege. This is the one thing on this list that will probably make you feel uncomfortable if you are a white heterosexual person, but it has to be said. I've seen and heard people defend Trump supporters by saying that they are actually nice people. And this may be true--you may be a Trump supporter or have a friend who is a Trump supporter who is generally a nice person. However, the actual issue here goes so much deeper than whether or not you and your friends are "nice" people. If you felt comfortable voting for a candidate who openly spread hatred against others who do not look or act like him or you did not feel a sense of panic the moment he was elected, then you are living a life of white privilege. So check it, and check it often. And in doing so, understand that living from a standpoint of privilege actually does nothing to make this country better for anyone other than yourself. And that, frankly, is not "nice."