Next, get ready for battle.
This may not be true for everyone, but I feel better when I start taking action to make things stop sucking. There are a lot of things that can be done to help, so figure out the best role for yourself.
The Little Things
There are a lot of small actions you can take, and if we all do our part, it can make our society substantially better. Some of these small things are harder than they might sound for some people, so don't overdo it. You'll be more successful if you don't push yourself too hard. Push a little at a time. It's just like physical exercise. But it needs to be more than sharing articles on Facebook.
First and foremost, DON'T NORMALIZE TRUMP. Don't let yourself or anyone else accept and treat as normal that Donald Trump is President Elect, or later, President. It's not normal or okay to have him in the White House. It is not okay to have a misogynistic, racist, Islamophic, ableist, fat-hating, homophobic and transphobic rapist in the White House. The moment you treat it as normal, not only do people stop fighting, but he becomes the baseline for U.S. Presidents and we could end up with someone even worse.
Confronting or correcting the people in your lives is important. This doesn't necessarily mean getting into your grandma's face and yelling at her for being racist. If your family is abusive and you have to rely on them, I'm not going to advise you to do that kind of thing. There are much more subtle ways to get people thinking about their assumptions and prejudices without overturning the boat.
This article, once again by Ijeoma Oluo, asks a lot of questions that can give you many ideas about how to nudge people in your life in the right direction. There are studies showing that diversity in the workplace increases creativity and productivity that can be sent to your bosses. Parents demand things from schools all the time - using a firm but reasonable tone to demand consent education will likely be a welcome change from whatever kinds of things bored rich white parents yell at them about. When people engage in stereotypes, counter them with facts. If they start getting all offended, feel free to pull "I'm just saying."
People with privilege can use that advantage to get others to listen. Use that empathy, thinking back to the time you used to get all defensive when people first suggested that you have an unfair advantage. Use the trust your fellow privileged people have in you to casually recommend books or articles or documentaries that could open their eyes. Use your best judgement here.
Recognize when people are lost causes and punish them by cutting them out of your life if you can. You are not a bad person for doing this. Don't let them make you feel guilty for it. You're not a bad person for putting yourself above friends and family members who clearly don't care much about you.
Tweet at, review, and post on the Facebook pages of companies that support, excuse, or normalize Trump. Threaten to boycott, and do. Boycotts do work and companies will listen if enough customers speak up. You can start with People Magazine and other publications that are already softening Trump's bigotry for him and treating him like any other President Elect.
Change your everyday language. Use "white supremacy" instead of "racism" where appropriate. This is not hyperbole. Make sure you're saying "undocumented immigrants" and not "illegal immigrants." Again, refer to Trump and his cabinet as fascists. White supremacists. Rapists. Instead of "minorities," call marginalized people marginalized or oppressed. Call men who drool over underage girls pedophiles. Make sure you know the difference between a hijab and a niqab. Refer to all marginalized people as "people" as much as you can.
This is very important for those of us who have enough privilege to feel reasonably safe doing so. If you see a hate crime in progress - and by that I mean any form of violence toward a marginalized person based on their marginalization - do something.
This comes with an important caveat of stop and think before calling the police. Sometimes you may need to, but if the target is a trans woman, or a black person, or a Muslim person, or seems to be having an issue due to mental illness that is causing them to behave erratically, getting the police involved could get them killed.
Better things you can do range from pretending to know the target of bigoted harassment and starting a conversation with them to shouting at the attacker to stop to fighting a physically violent attacker off if need be. The important thing is to show the bigot that their target is not alone. This is often enough to get any bigot to back off. If you feel safe doing so, loudly standing up for the victim can not only make the bigot back off, but shows everyone nearby that that kind of bullshit will not be tolerated. Hopefully others will join in. Often one person just needs to take the first step.
Pretty much anything is better than doing nothing at all. Do not tolerate it. Start screeching like a pterodactyl to distract the attacker. Throw rocks from a distance. "Accidentally" spill hot coffee on their pants. Ask someone bigger and more privileged nearby to help. Do something. Please.
Petitioning Your Representatives
There's a right way and a wrong way to contact your local and national representatives. Basically, signing online petitions and sending emails doesn't do a whole lot, but calling or showing up at public forums can make a real impact. Unfortunately, the latter two are a lot more difficult for many people, but if you think you can push yourself a little and want to help, this is a good area to do so.
One Emily Ellsworth published a series of tweets inspired by her time as a congressional staffer about the best ways to get the attention of politicians. She explains that it's staffers who field the emails and the calls, but if enough people call on an issue, they'll let your representative know because it's going to slow down the entire office.
You can see the entirety of her advice on Boing Boing.
Join Your Local Anti-Fascist Groups
Collective action is exponentially better than individual action. There are both local and national groups that you can join that are dedicated to fighting bigotry and supporting the oppressed. These include anti-racist groups, feminist groups, LGBT+ groups, and actual anti-fascist organizations.
Anti-fascist groups, who collectively refer to themselves and their movement as antifa, are serious direct action organizations focused entirely on countering white supremacists, neo nazis, various hate groups, and other fascists. They show up to counter-protest rallies put on by these people. Their goal is to send a very clear message that fascism will not be tolerated. This message-sending includes the use of physical confrontation. Some might call this "violence," I call it defending one's community. Self-defense and defending those who can't defend themselves.
A lot of people might consider this to be distasteful, but I want you to consider the fact that oppressors have never given up their power without violence happening. They're not gonna go quietly. At best they'll give us some crumbs in the hopes that we'll shut up. But they'll do anything to maintain their power.
That being said, there are many reasons that this kind of action could be too dangerous or impossible (physically or emotionally) for people. You can still join and be a part of planning and other behind-the-scenes work. If you prefer, groups like Black Lives Matter or groups dedicated to petitioning politicians are always available.
There have also been groups popping up run by privileged people that are dedicated to confronting one's privilege and using it to help the oppressed. Seattle has the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites for white people, and there are online efforts like the White Nonsense Roundup.
Here's a list of groups I've joined or am looking to join in the near future:
- Emerald City Antifa
- Rose City Antifa (I've been told this one is better)
- The DJT Resistance
- Socialist Alternative Seattle (not sure about this one, but interesting to follow)
- Seattle Clinic Defense (reproductive rights)
- Seattle Black Book Club
- Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites (Facebook Page)
I'm most active in groups where I can examine and utilize my privilege to help those I have privilege over. Namely people of color. My plan of action involves actually going to real, in-person meetings and trying to get others to come with me. This will ease me out of my comfort zone while allowing me to do more good than just blogging about it. The blogging's good, but I need to take the next step.
Going to Protests
This is another thing that is a big step for a lot of people and is inaccessible to some. For me, taking that step was an emotionally rewarding experience.
Don't let people tell you that protests are pointless or that people should do X instead of protesting. If protests didn't work, people wouldn't be whining about them so much. Protests may not cause immediate change, but they're great for getting attention, for showing oppressed individuals that there are a large number of people who support them, and for getting people together.
If you're thinking about attending protests, there are some guidelines you need to follow. Here's my list based on my own experiences at protests:
- Follow the direction of the marginalized people leading the protests. I've mostly been to Black Lives Matter protests, and I listen to the direction of the black women.
- If you're privileged, don't lead chants. Don't go to a BLM protest and start a chant if you're white. If another privileged person is trying to lead a chant, ignore them or direct them to stop.
- Don't be swayed by the white male anarchists. If the marginalized leaders direct you to try and get on a freeway or confront the police, then you can. Do confront privileged anarchists if they start doing things to provoke the police without permission. This could put marginalized individuals in danger and/or send a message they don't want to send.
- If you're privileged, don't be in the front or middle of the march. As much as you can, put your bodies between the marginalized individuals and the police. At BLM protests, I stay on the edge of the crowd and keep an eye on the cops. If a confrontation occurs, there should be a line of white people linking arms directly in front of the line of police. Again, look to the marginalized leaders for direction.
- If there's conflict between marginalized groups you have privilege over, stay out of it. If your fellow privileged people are causing problems, collect them.
- If you don't feel like you can confront the police, don't. You don't have to be up in their faces. But don't just leave if things start getting a little rough. You can back off a bit and observe from a distance. It's very likely that the march will continue in another direction.
There are also plenty of guidelines to be found on what to do if you're arrested or hurt during a protest. Milk in the eyes for pepper spray and tear gas, not water.
Prepare for Revolution
There is the possibility that things could go bad very quickly. As I've said before, we're not ready for revolution. Part of my plan is to seek out an organization that is trying to get ready and support them as much as I can. Individually, you can prepare by stockpiling supplies. Not just food and water, but people that marginalized people might need. Think about what people might need to survive. People will need medication for physical and mental illness. Alternatives can be helpful as well, such as supplements that can alleviate depression. Consider certain types of clothing like bras, binders for trans men, and head coverings.
This may seem extreme to a lot of people, but history has shown us that significant change doesn't happen without some kind of revolution. That's how the U.S. came into being. That and stealing Native American land and genocide, but you know.
Reading Material and Education
You can never be too educated on this subject. Most of the reading I do is simple posts and articles written by marginalized individuals. I find these by following them on social media. There are many people, pages, and organizations you can follow on whatever platform you enjoy spending time on.
Here are some people I follow:
- Guerrilla Feminism - Feminist group focused on marginalized identities
- Janet Mock - Black trans woman
- Clementine Ford - Australian feminist
- The People's Record - Leftist organization
- The Other 98% - Liberal news, offshoot of Occupy
- Working Washington - Local worker's rights organization
- Daily Progressive - Social justice focused, more leftist than liberal
- Ijeoma Oluo - Black woman, incredible writer
- Brittney Cooper - Black woman, amazing writer
- Katherine Cross - Trans woman and feminist
- Jesse Williams - That actor from Grey's Anatomy, really badass
- Lara Witt - Desi-Kenyan feminist
- Morgan Page - Trans writer and sex work activist
- Amanda Levitt - Unapologetic fat lady
- Flavia Dzodan - Latina immigrant
- Sophia Banks - Incredible queer trans woman
- bell hooks - fuckin' bell hooks
- Lauren Chief Elk - Native woman, complete unapologetic
- Sister Outsider - Holy fuck
- Trudy - THE TRUDZ, asexual black woman
- Sassycrass - Black Twitter embodied
That's just some highlights from Facebook and Twitter. You're not ready for my Tumblr yet.
There's so much potential reading material that I couldn't even begin to list it all. But one thing I might focus on are books that teach you how to organize and get active in your communities. I also really, really recommend Capitalism Must Die (free PDF!) to everybody. It does a great job of explaining what capitalism is and why it needs to go. And I mean needs.
I just picked up Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow: an organizing guide on Kindle. It was free for a day and is currently only 99 cents for a digital copy. I've heard good things about it and plan to begin reading it very soon.
Haymarket Books put out a "Stop Trump Reading List"!
Haymarket Books put out a "Stop Trump Reading List"!
If you feel like you have any particular gaps in an area, especially involving people you have privilege over, comment or email me and I'll be glad to send you recommendations.
Support Each Other
The other day an individual reached out to me while I was sitting alone in a bar. I don't usually do that, I was just waiting for my friend's show to start. He asked me who I knew in the band and asked me questions about myself and invited me to sit with him. His partner joined us later and was just as kind. We talked a little about the election but mostly just told each other about ourselves. It's rare for that to happen in Seattle, so I was surprised, and very pleasantly so.
It made me realize how important community is. It's incredibly important to reach out to the people you know who are most affected by this election and make sure they're okay. Doing little things to support them and make their lives easier in the coming months is one of the best forms of activism you can engage in. Small gestures of kindness to marginalized strangers can help people feel safe and cared for. And of course, donations when you can spare the money always help.
We're in this together. Remember that there are millions of people out there who are like us and believe that everyone deserves basic human rights and to have their basic needs met unconditionally. People who see that hateful bigotry still exists in every facet of our society and who want to do everything they can to stop the needless suffering of those unlucky enough to be born a white, able-bodied, thin, neurotypical, cishet white man.
Love as much as you can, but don't tolerate bigotry and don't tolerate fascism.
I love all of you very much. Keep fighting. Keep existing.