Millions of hearts across the country sunk with shock and disbelief as Republican candidate Donald Trump seemed to defy all odds, walking away early Wednesday morning as the president-elect.
It’s been days since that dark election night. Traditionally, this is when the rituals of a peaceful transition of power help to elicit a kind of acceptance. But a lot of of us are angry, frustrated, and afraid as evidence of Trump’s new America begins to show signs of emerging.
From quotes about him making Muslims register and pulling back LGBTQ rights, to children in the classroom shouting, “Build the wall!” there’s good reason for people to be worried about what the next four years will look like.
“This is painful and it will be for a long time,” said Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton as she graciously conceded. “But I want you to remember this: Our campaign was not about one person, or even one election. It was about the country we love and about building an America that’s hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted.”
Yet, that America she’s talking about – the one that’s “inclusive” and “big-hearted” is hard to see at the moment. Exit polls told the story of an America that I don’t recognize, but at same time, I’m all too familiar with.
“[Trump] took a wide majority of the white male vote and… a majority of the white female vote. We can’t just look at that and say these are just people who wanted to flip over the table – there is racism and sexism at play there,” said Dan Savage on The Stranger’s Blabbermouth podcast from Nov. 9. Eli Sanders, another host on the show, added, “There can’t not be because of the strength of [Trump’s] obvious sexism and racism.”
In total, 53% of white women still voted for Trump, despite countless sexist and vulgar statements from him throughout the campaign. This statistic was only aggravated by the fact that, according to the United States Election Project, 46.9% of people didn’t even vote at all.
It’s true that while this election has left us with a country that’s deeply divided, it also ignited something in us that’s been waiting to get out for a long time: A longing for equality and human decency that we, millennials, can now prove is lacking. And because we’re the ones who would have voted the entire map blue, it’s now our duty to stand up and advance the causes we believe in while promoting the values that unite us. As writer Ann Friedman pointed out, “Elections have endpoints. Social progress does not.”
So forget about that half-finished Canadian citizenship application – it’s time to stick around and get to work. For those unsure about where to start, here are some suggestions for when you’ve finally crawled out of bed and are ready to take back your America – the one you know we can be proud of.
1. Get Out and Protest
Join the thousands of young people across the country and the world who are protesting a Trump presidency this weekend. It’s as easy as googling, “Trump protest [your city name].” Students from high schoolers to PhD candidates have been leading this movement, walking out of campuses from California to Texas and beyond with “Not My President” signs – and this is only the beginning.
2. Sign a Petition Demanding Change
For anyone who missed it, Clinton won the popular vote. That’s right, over 200,000 Americans said “Hill yes” – but due to an outdated Electoral College, it didn’t matter. The internet is out to change this with online petitions that take less than a minute for you to sign. Consider this one that calls on the Electors to cast their ballots in favor of Clinton on Dec. 19. Or just sign a petition that would abolish the Electoral College altogether.
3. Show Up for Your Community
Much of the progress we want to see starts by getting involved locally. Voice your concerns at a city council meeting about rights for Muslims, immigrants, LGBTQ people, people of color, people with disabilities, etc. Host a FLURT meetup for like-minded young people in your city to be there for each other and devise an action plan over coffee. Volunteer for organizations that you believe in and want to see succeed in the future – such as Planned Parenthood, the Pride Centre, Greenpeace, or Black Lives Matter.
4. Reclaim Your Voice
It can be tempting to want to give up, accept how things are now, and hide away in despair. But your country and the rest of the world needs your ideas, your energy and your ambition now more than ever. Prevent the gradual acceptance of Trump’s America early on and oppose the normalization of issues such as racism and sexism in the media. Hold people and news outlets accountable for taking Trump and his supporters seriously – because compliance is just as bad as spreading hatred. Write for FLURT by emailing amanda(at)flurtmag.com and give young people in your country and the rest of the world reassurance that we have a voice.
5. Look Out for One Another
We have a long fight ahead of us, so taking the time to practice self care and kindness is crucial. Allow yourself to step away from the 24-hour news cycle occasionally to de-stress and recharge. Take a bath, watch your favorite Netflix show or spend time with loved ones. When you’re feeling empowered, build those up around you who may be weary from the battle. Spread love to others through kind words or gestures, like telling them what they mean to you or cooking them a meal. Because if we’ve learned anything from the election results, it’s that we’re only going to get through this if we bridge the gap and come together.
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