This morning, when I woke up in a frost-covered tent at Standing Rock, I stayed under the blankets, hoping the bad news of the night before might somehow, miraculously, have turned around. Those who were up making coffee told me otherwise.
As I dressed in the pre-dawn light, I thought about the people who are most at risk, and I thought about what I had learned last year on my road trip: We are stronger and more resilient when we reach out to one another in our communities. Given Trump’s targeting of the most vulnerable, that is a clue about who to show up for first.
Here’s what I posted today at YES! Magazine:
There will be much to unpack about what happened in this election and the implications of a Trump presidency. And there are lots of reasons to grieve about the things we hold dear.
But I want to humbly suggest we do one thing before anything else. Some of us are in far more danger, now, than others. Start off right away by reaching out to those people. Acknowledge their vulnerability and promise to stand with them. And form relationships and local communication networks to make that promise real.
Some of us have the resources to buffer ourselves from the belligerence of a man who goaded his followers into harming protesters at his rallies. Some of us, especially if we have white skin, are male, straight, and not poor, have some protection.
If you have any privilege at all, this is a time to put it on the line, beginning where you live. Even if you don’t, this is a time to reach out.
What does that mean in practice? Instead of talking about moving to Canada or Costa Rica, take a stand where you live. Are there Muslims who will be vulnerable, or immigrant communities? Reach out to them and let them know you’ll be there for them.
Are there health clinics or other resources serving vulnerable women? Ask what they need to assure they can safely continue to offer those services.
People of color, regardless of how long their families have been part of this country, will be especially vulnerable, not only to Trump administration policies, but to the hate unleashed by his rhetoric.
Some of us are in far more danger, now, than others.
Get together with people you know—your faith group, your political allies, your coffee buddies—and plan to make your community a “hate-free zone.”
Think of this as a natural disaster: Who is most vulnerable? Whom should you check in with?
Build the communication networks for rapid response if someone is targeted for hate or excluded from society’s benefits. Include nearby communities that might have less progressive infrastructure.
Then turn these new relationships into opportunities for cultural understanding and celebration. Get together around traditional holiday events or milestones or just to share meals.
The first foothold of fascism is set when people surrender to fear and isolation. Resist through love and celebration with your neighbors and the broader community. Teach your children what respect and courage mean. If anyone is isolated or targeted, show up. Ask how you can stand in solidarity.
The benefits are many, beyond surviving the Trump years. Your community will be stronger and more inclusive. You’ll have more friends and more reasons to celebrate. And even as national policies move in directions that seem to be terrifyingly backward, you’ll have the basis for survival, and more. You’ll have the foundations for collective power. You’ll be well-positioned to make progress at the local and state level, and to build the multiracial, democratic people power that can win the next national election.
And meanwhile, you can live, day by day, with less fear and more celebration.