Give. Thanks.

Black Friday is almost upon us, holiday shopping is set to begin in earnest and many of us are wondering how best to spend our dollars.

I have more than a few folk in my circles who have stated they are simply donating to organizations doing the work that needs to be done, and I applaud them. I can’t think of a better gift to give or receive than knowing a few more dollars went to the organizations standing up for people’s rights, providing needed services to underserved communities and helping more people gain access to all of the rights, responsibilities and privileges that should come standard with US citizenship.

So, I decided that this year for Thanksgiving I would ask you all to give. There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about teaching kids fiscal responsibility by having them divide any money they get into three even jars – “spend,” “save,” and “charity” so why not do a similar thing with our gift giving. Sure, buy the kids in your life books and music and art supplies and science kits but balance that with gifts to charities in their name – that models the kind of thing we’re asking them to do and shows them that you care about leaving them with a better world. And as for adults, unless you have an adult in your life who really needs a thing – donating in their name might be the best gift you can give. I know I wish I could afford to give more to charities, so having someone give in my name feels great!!

And, since I’ve been talking non-stop about taking positive action in the face of a Trump election, what better way to do something good for the world than to donate to a righteous cause!?! Last, there is a national movement called #GivingTuesday, and many organizations can double your gift if you make your donation on that day!

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Since I love you all so much, I decided to make it easy for you! Below you’ll find a list of verified, top-notch groups and organizations to donate to, as well as ideas for local places to look into to make sure your dollars have the biggest effect possible.

First: let me ask you to donate to the people protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. What is happening to them is NOT OKAY and they need all the help they can get!

Once you’ve done that, here are my recommendations for getting the most bang for your bucks.

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  1. Donate to your local public school. Seriously, just write them a check. Almost all of them have a registered non-profit parent organization so you can get your tax write-off and get your employer to make a matching donation, if they do that sort of thing. (And if they don’t – ask why not. They should if they have more than a hundred employees.) If I can make a further recommendation – request that your donation go to arts, music or the library those are consistently under-funded programs and grants are hard to come by for those areas. Also, donating your money there reminds schools that the public still values art, music and literacy regardless of the educational fad of the moment.
  2. Donate to reproductive/sexual health organizations including: Planned Parenthood, Lilith Fund, The National Abortion Fund – or use this to locate your local/state abortion fund, Draw the Line, NARAL, or your local women’s health clinic. (If you don’t have a friend or family member to gift this donation to, I nominate Mike Pence to be the recipient of this receipt. Let him know you stand for reproductive justice! Information on how to do this follows.)
  3. Donate to organizations working to secure full civil rights and human dignity for LGBTQ* folk. I recommend GLBT, the Lambda legal defense and education fund, The Transgender Law Center, and the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Educators Network or GLSEN. Also check your local communities, see who is doing this work in your backyard and give them money. Also, look into the GSA at your local schools, I’m sure they could use a donation in order to help organize! And again, if you want to donate in someone’s name, but don’t have a specific someone in mind, I nominate Mike Pence to be the recipient of this piece of your mind!
  4. Donate to groups working to ensure civil rights for ALL people: The ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, The Anti-Defamation League, The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund, The NAACP, The Native American Rights Fund, The National Congress of American Indians, The Innocence Project, The Justice Policy Institute, Black Lives Matter… There are more. If I didn’t find your personal brand of activism, check out this handy list of cool orgs… I highly recommend making your donation to these organizations in Donald Trump’s name. Info to take this step is below.
  5. Donate to your local food bank and/or homeless shelter.
  6. Donate to your local domestic violence shelter or organization working to end intimate partner violence and/or sexual violence.
  7. Donate to Flint, MI – those folk STILL need water and help mitigating the effects of drinking poisoned water for too long.
  8. Donate to an environmental group or organization. I am not linking to any specific groups because, I admit to being jaded here – the environment has been in dire danger my entire life, and I have given to many of these organizations over the years and I’m not sure what they are doing that is of tangible benefit to the environment. I feel like this issue is bigger than NGOs. I feel like this is an action we have to take to own smaller cars, drive less, consume less, and put pressure on our governments to invest in greener energy sources while also consuming less… BUT, if you have to spend money, I’d rather it went to an environmental organization than cheap plastic crap, so… (Also, if anyone wants to comment with a shout out to an environmental org they think is doing great work – do that! Post a link. Spread the word!)

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To donate in the name of Donald Trump or Mike Pence, use the info below:

Office of Governor Mike Pence/State House Room 206/Indianapolis, IN 46204-2797

and

Donald Trump/ The Trump Organization/ 725 Fifth Avenue/ New York, NY 10022

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I’m sure there are organizations and causes that I have missed or accidentally overlooked – please, if you know of an important and worthy org, post a link in the comments, I will do my very best to screen them in a timely fashion.

In the meantime, enjoy the beginning of the holiday season and I hope that you are all able to spend time with people you love.

thankyou

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Naive idealism, Things that work

Stand Against Hate – A handy action guide

If you’re on facebook, or twitter, or you have access to any online news, you know that there is a lot going on right now in the work to prevent president-elect Trump from enacting the hate he campaigned on. Even as that work takes place, you also know that he is appointing known, active neo-nazis to his staff and to positions of leadership that do not require congressional approval. He is also nominating those same kinds of people to positions that will require congressional approval. This is a test. Will we, the people, allow our elected representatives to sanction these choices, or will we demand that they refuse and reject hate?

If you have access to news, you also know that the list of conflicts of interest in a Trump presidency are piling up because he has not divested himself from his businesses, nor has he separated his family and heirs from his political transition team.

If you have access to news, you further know that the evidence of voting irregularities, illegal voter discrimination and disenfranchisement is growing. If this was happening in any other democracy in the world, we would be pointing to a fraudulent, stolen election. We would be backing the people on the ground asking for recounts and vote audits. It is happening here. And we need to take these same steps to advocate not just for ourselves, but for the ideal of a free and fair democracy.

So – Here are some tangible actions that we can, and should, all be taking.

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First: Call AND email the Department of Justice and demand an audit of the votes. This is less work than a full recount but can help determine if there were voting irregularities that should trigger a full recount. This is a time sensitive action item. Do it first, do it now.

Call the DOJ at 202-353-1555 and tell them you want the votes audited. Even if it’s busy, keep calling. It takes a few times to get through because of all the calls being made.

Email, if you don’t feel comfortable calling:  voting.section@usdoj.gov

Also, sign this petition for good measure.

Second: Ask the Electors in the Electoral college to  refuse to cast their vote for Trump. This feels like a desperate act, but the more I’ve read, the more I’ve learned that this situation is exactly why our founding fathers put the electoral college in place. Perhaps reminding them of that isn’t such a bad idea… Here’s how:

You can join the 4+ million people and sign the petition.

There are also ways to locate and contact your state’s electors. I am not linking to them here because as much as I believe in the possibility of this, I refuse to do anything that even remotely looks like Doxxing and every list I’ve seen is just names, which means I could accidentally unleash people into petitioning (aka harassing) the wrong people. Nope.  That feels wrong.

Third: Contact your representatives. Every. Single. Week. Calling works best. Emails are skimmed by bots for keywords that are responded to with an auto-reply. Phone calls work because you will be able to talk to congressional aides who have to listen to and record your concerns. This is necessary regardless of your representative‘s political affiliation, they all need to hear from us.

Not sure where to begin? An amazing person set up this great tool just for us! Use it! Set a reminder in your phone and get to work.

Fourth: Call to demand a bipartisan investigation of Donald Trump’s conflicts of interest. Seriously. This is important. Everyday there is a new report of another conflict of interest that involves Trump lining his pockets at public expense. This needs to be investigated and stopped. Call 202-225-5074 and say: “I am ________ and I am a vote. I am calling to request a bipartisan review of Donald Trump’s financials and conflicts of interest. Thank you.”

Also call some of the members serving on that committee: Mark Meadows (NC) – Chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations (202) 225-6401 and Jason Chaffetz (UT) – (202) 225-7751 and tell them you are a voter calling in support of a bipartisan review of Trump’s financials and conflicts of interest. You are gravely concerned about these conflicts of interest and believe they are of the utmost importance, as do many of your fellow citizens.

Fifth: Report Hate Crimes It is important to report hate crimes both to local law enforcement AND to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division at: (202) 514-4609. It is important for these incidents to be recorded and investigated, especially as we continue to see a surge in such crimes across the nation in response to Trump’s “win.”

Sixth: Call Paul Ryan and register your support for the ACA. Speaker Ryan has set up a poll to hear what American’s think about the Affordable Care Act. Yes, you have to listen to some propaganda before you’re allowed to record your opinion, but it’s worth it to tell them that we like having insurance. Here’s the number: 202-225-0600. Press 2 to give your opinion, then press 1 if you are in favor of the ACA.

Seventh – Don’t forget – with the holidays just around the corner, it is time to make donations to the organizations working to support the people threatened by Trump. You can make your donations in the name of your loved ones and send them a card to let them know. You can also make these donations in Mike Pence or Donald Trump’s name and have the receipts sent to them at:

Office of Governor Mike Pence/State House Room 206/Indianapolis, IN 46204-2797

and

Donald Trump/ The Trump Organization/ 725 Fifth Avenue/ New York, NY 10022

(I recommend Mike Pence’s name for Planned Parenthood, Lilith Fund, AbortionFunds.org and any LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS organizations. I recommend Donald Trump’s name for the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, and any organizations helping immigrants, Muslims, African-Americans, Jewish people, organizations working to end sexual assault, etc.)

I’ll be posting a follow up with a list of worthy organizations, but you can start with the above min-list.

Immediate Action needed – Stand with Standing Rock!! Don’t forget, Trump isn’t president yet – and while we’re all spinning out about what a Trump presidency might mean, the Standing Rock Water Protectors are being abused and tortured. They are being sprayed with water canons in below freezing temperatures, shot at with rubber bullets and tear gas, all because they are trying to refuse an oil pipeline that white residents already rejected. So, while you’re fired up and taking action – call the White House and demand an end to this militarized response to peaceful protesters trying to protect their land and water. Here’s the number to the Situation Room: 202-456-9431. You will get transferred to the main comment line and placed on hold. Stay on the line and leave your comment. It is important.

You can also donate to the people protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.

AND here’s more concrete action you can take to Stand with Standing Rock.

Last – Hold the media accountable. When the media refuses to call Steven Bannon a neo-nazi, or when they glamorize the “white nationalists” riding the Trump Train, we must push back. We must also hold them accountable for using their investigative skills to determine the truth, before reporting rather than after. We must be diligent and determined in our demand for truthful, unbiased reporting. (And note – unbiased does NOT mean giving equal time to lies. That’s part of what got us into this mess.)

So – write letters to the editors, call the media out on social media, refuse to re-share fake news. If we want a free press, we have to participate. In fact, this election is one big reminder that if we want a democracy, we have to participate, we have to work for it – not just by voting once every 4 years if the lines aren’t too long and our dream candidate is running, but every day, all year long.

If this feels overwhelming – just pick one action to do today. Pick another one tomorrow. Bookmark this page and anytime you have a minute, come back to it and pick another action. Commit yourself to one action a day for as long as it takes.

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Democracy requires action. It’s time to take some.

Note: You can find additional petitions online at Change.org, the Southern Poverty Law Center, The White House, etc.

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Mandate This – Progress Marches On

There are a couple of things that I want to talk about – things I am tired of hearing already, and I want to explain why.

“It’s time to get over it. Trump won. We need to come together. After all, you didn’t see people lining up to protest when Obama won.”

First – It’s amazing how fast national amnesia works, isn’t it?!? And granted, that link won’t take you to large-scale street marches – for a couple of reasons. Namely that Obama won both the popular vote and the electoral college vote by decent margins. Also, his election inspired the Republicans in congress to protest his every move in unprecedented ways. We faced eight years of a do-nothing congress intent on blocking his every move, including shutting down the government. The people who were unhappy didn’t have to march, because their representatives protested for them. (And I have recently seen more than one acquaintance say that those representatives were performing the duties of their job faithfully by shutting down the government to block the majority party from writing or enacting legislation, so…)

Second – Obama did not fuel his campaign on open hate speech and anti-POC, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ*, anti-woman, anti-Muslim (or anti-any other religion) rhetoric. Trump did. Telling someone to “get in line” to support a president who ran a fear and hate filled campaign is… just no. You don’t get to tell people that they need to support their abuser. Ever. Nope.

Third – Obama was not endorsed by any hate groups.

Fourth – Have we all already forgotten that Trump, his supporters AND the GOP establishment ALL vowed in various ways to directly oppose a Clinton presidency if she won the election? From Trump telling his followers that the election was rigged and that her presidency would be illegitimate and hinting that he would not accept the outcome if she won, to his followers vowing to load their guns and march in the streets if she won (answering his call for second amendment solutions to a Clinton presidency), to the GOP establishment in the Senate openly vowing to block ANY nominee she put up for Supreme Court positions… But we’re supposed to get in line!?! Really?

“Give him a chance. He’s not really going to do the things he said he would.”

Give him a chance? Okay – Chance #1, VP pick: Mike Pence, a governor who actively helped legislate a reign of terror against LGBTQ* folk, women and public education in his home state.

“That’s not fair, that was before the election. That was just pandering to the base.”

Okay, so you admit that the GOP base is misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic. Let’s dive into the rest.

Chance #2 – Cabinet positions: Steve Bannon for Chief Strategist and Lead Council. That’d be a known, active leader in the alt-right/white nationalist movement. Super not okay ever. Extra super not okay when there is a wave of hate crimes sweeping the nation post-Trump “victory.”

Stop telling me to give him a chance. He’s had several and he has squandered them all. See above note regarding running a hate fueled campaign.

“Trump and the GOP received a mandate on their platform this election.”

No. Nope. Not even a little bit.

First – approximately 42% of eligible voters did not even cast a ballot.

Second – Hillary won the popular vote by around a million votes. Despite hearing from various people that CNN, TIME magazine, Snopes, politifact, etc. are all liberal patsies, you can click on their names to see how they are reporting this data because I’m pretty sure they’re actually the closest to neutral that we have.

Third – If you look at how close this election really was, and if you look at how people voted on issues down ballot, you’ll see a couple of things: First, we’re living in a fairly divided nation – BUT! It’s not as divided as we’ve been led to believe.

Americans actually agree on a ton of stuff. Poll after poll shows that the majority of Americans believe we are a stronger, better nation because of immigrants. We believe that LGBTQ* people should have the same rights as cis-gender, heterosexual folk, including the right to marry, to form families, to adopt, to receive services from public officials and private businesses open to the public, to use a restroom, etc. We believe that women should have access to safe, legal abortions, and birth control. We believe in universal access to free, quality education. We want universal access to affordable,quality health care. We want universal background checks on firearm purchases…

There are more issues that Americans agree on, like reinstating the Voting Rights Act, undoing Citizens United to try to get money further away from politics, or at least make it more transparent when someone is trying to buy an election, closing tax loopholes, penalizing folk who stash money in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes, etc. We agree that we need to invest in infrastructure. We agree that we need to help people transition from obsolete jobs and industries into new fields. And that all Americans who are able and willing to work should have access to jobs that pay a living wage.

Those are the mandates that the government should take seriously. A functioning democracy should be looking at these issues, the issues that the vast majority of Americans agree on, and we should be moving forward on them. We should be making progress, not rolling it back. That’s our mandate.

And so, to the folk still upset about this election – stay angry, stay frustrated – BUT DON’T GIVE IN TO DESPAIR. We need you. All of you, to fight. To hold the line. To hold our elected officials accountable. To reach out to the white folk who keep voting against not only their own best interests, but also their stated goals. We need to reach the people who claim to be “socially liberal, but fiscally conservative” and ask them to join us in holding their elected officials accountable to the values that the majority of Americans agree on. That’s the common ground we need to work on, and it has nothing to do with hate.

*I’ve been asked if I’ll be posting an action list. Yes – but not tonight, I have a pile of other work I have to do. ALSO, I am working on compiling a list of resources for folk who have been directly threatened by a Trump presidency. I’m not entirely sure what form this directory will take, but I feel like that is also an important piece of action that I can and should take. I am hoping to have both posts up before Thanksgiving. If you have suggestions for either – please drop them in the comments! Thank you!

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Service Before Self

I started my day at an assembly at my kids’ school for Veteran’s Day. Both of my kids were performing, so I was there to see them, but also to support our veterans, and to check in with my community. My kids’ school is majority Latinx and many of the students come from mixed-status families. I wanted to be there for all of them.

The assembly was amazing. So much more powerful than I had anticipated, more than I was prepared for really. The speakers all seemed to realize that these students and community members were in need of inspiration and support, a path forward. I hope they heard the same message that I did.

Every speaker touched on the same core topics. The first is that America’s greatness is directly founded and dependent upon its diversity – the same diversity that exists within that school. Second was the idea of living lives of service – whether in uniform, or out. There was a strong call to serve each other. Last was the duty of the military, and all people with power, to uphold the constitutional freedoms guaranteed to ALL people residing within the United States of America.

The key-note speaker also offered the three core values of the air force for consideration. These are not military specific values, these are values that can be taken up by anyone, at any time.

  1. Integrity. He told the assembled students and community members that with this goes the pledge, “I will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate those who do.” In this way, he said, true integrity goes beyond being responsible for your own behavior, it also means holding those around you accountable for their behavior.
  2. Service before self. Note, this does not mean service at the expense of self! That said, he remind us all of Gandhi’s quote, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” He spoke about the many ways that people can serve their communities, the many ways that we can be helpers for each other.
  3. Excellence in all we doI feel this is self-explanatory. Even Bill and Ted got it.beexcellentAfter the assembly, I took my Dorkalope up to the hills for a hike with this song from my old friend Kris Drever playing through my head.

As this song played through in my head, I kept thinking about this feeling I’ve been having – of not doing enough, of not having done enough, which of course led me back to this idea of service before self and what that meant, what that looked like, what that created.

I come from a family where, even though we don’t name it as such, we tend to live this idea in pretty tangible ways. When I’m hurting the most, my initial response is almost always to think about how I can help someone else. By reaching out and doing something kind for someone, I almost always find that my needs get met as well.

As I hiked, I remembered this video that a friend posted in the midst of the election madness to give us all a reprieve from the fear mongering and shouting. At the time I thought it was sweet, but I didn’t reflect too deeply. I was busy and stressed and it was just a moment of relief, nothing deeper. But now, in the context of thinking about service before self, I see a powerful analogy. Give it a look.

Did you see that? Watch it again. Really. The words will still be here.

Okay, so here are these two cats. The grey one is drinking milk and the spotty one comes up and steals it away. So then the grey one steals it back. So begins an awkward cycle which puts them both on guard, to the point that at one point the grey one is so busy guarding the bowl it doesn’t get a chance to drink before Spotty steals the milk. So then – SO THEN – the grey one steals it back, takes a drink and then PASSES THE MILK BACK! And a new cycle starts up, one in which they drink, share, drink, share.

Game Changer!!

Okay, so how does this apply to us, to people, to this election, to service before self?

I see a couple of caustic assumptions that I’ve heard before being broken down here.

First – That if we are kind, if we are generous, we will be taken advantage of, and so we must guard what is ours, we must put limits on what others can have. Now, remember when Gray was so busy watching Spotty that Gray didn’t get a chance to drink before the milk got stolen again? Yeah, when we worry too much about guarding our stuff, first, we’re not able to enjoy it and second, other people might still take it.

Second – If we give people things (especially the basic things they need to survive, like food) they will become lazy and stop working for them. But notice – when Gray gives Spotty the bowl, Spotty doesn’t just lay down and drink it all before taking a giant nap, right? That’s because even though Spotty no longer has to reach for the milk, Spotty understands that the job isn’t done, it has just changed form. Now Spotty’s job is to return the bowl, rather than reach for it.

Still, it’s a risk, isn’t it? It’s a risk to offer something you think you need to someone else and hope that it comes back around. It’s a risk to be kind, because your kindness might be taken for weakness – you might get taken advantage of. (And now I have to insert one of my Youngin’s favorite songs.)

But fear aside – it’s necessary. We must be kind, we must be generous, we must give what we can, when we can. (Because remember, this is service before self, not service at the expense of self.)

Again though, what does that look like?

Here’s where I’m at right now –

When someone says they are afraid or hurting, remember it is not your job to judge the validity of their fear or the depth of their pain. Your job is to support them, comfort them.

I’ve been hearing a lot that people are overreacting to this election, that they don’t have any reason to be afraid. People have mocked those who are afraid and I just have to say – it’s not helping y’all. Meanwhile, there are a ton of people who are afraid of clowns in the woods – and no one is telling them to chill out, nope – we’re all like, “ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY!!! If a clown jumps out at you, that’s justifiable homicide, that is!” But when a presidential candidate directly and explicitly threatens groups of people, and then gets elected, and then violence against people belonging to those groups spikes, we tell people to calm down.

NOPE. So much nope.

When someone tells you they are afraid or hurting – LISTEN. Offer support, offer comfort. That’s the bare minimum. You do not have to agree with them in order to treat them humanely.

As for people expressing their hurt – what looks like a paper cut to you, might be the thousandth one that person has received that day. You don’t know. So don’t judge, don’t tell them to shake it off, grow a thicker skin, or ignore it. Believe them when they say they are hurting and then offer support, offer comfort. It’s the bare minimum.

We have these sayings about “death by a thousand cuts” and “the straw that broke the camel’s back” so we understand that sometimes small things end up being the things that we just can’t take,the things that finally do us in. So again – your job is to listen, to support, to comfort. To believe that their pain is real, even if it seems minor to you. They are not you.

Last – look for opportunities to reach out, to spread kindness, to help each other. Pay attention. Be open. Allow yourself to be vulnerable.

Today I stopped to offer help to a cyclist who was broken down on the side of the road. His friend was on the way to rescue him, but we still had a nice moment and he knew that he was seen and valued. I was able to provide winter gloves and a warm hat to a homeless veteran because I saw his sign and asked him what he needed. I went home and went through our extra winter gear and found a few items that fit him and served his needs. This was me doing what I could, when I could. I had time today. I decided the best use of that time was offering a little extra to two people I saw who looked like they needed it.

Yesterday the thing I was able to offer was hugs and words of support.

I don’t know what I will have to give tomorrow, but I know I will give what I can.

And I trust that it will come back. I trust that if I focus on service before self, it will come back around. I trust this because this semester has been brutally hard, but people have caught me and held me up and helped me out and carried me when I needed carrying. And now, it’s my turn to push the bowl back.

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Upstanding one hug at a time

Today was a strange day.
First, one of my professors leaned on me. During class I could see that she was struggling. I waited after class until everyone else had left and said, “You okay? You look like you could use a hug.” She broke. I held her. We had an intense moment together while she told me about her family and her heritage and the ways this election not only puts her at risk, but also tells her pretty explicitly that there are millions of people who don’t value her life. We connected in a way we hadn’t before – she’s always kept herself aloof. I shared my fears, and my determination to be a better ally, to offer support and comfort and aid whenever I could, in whatever ways I could.
Then, I went to a shop on the hill to get some supplies before my next class. The woman behind the counter was Asian. We started talking and when I told her that I was upset and ashamed about the way the election went, she confessed her fears, and those of her children. She wept when I held her hand and looked her in the eye to tell her that I was glad she was here, that her children were here and to promise them that I was fighting for them, and would continue to fight for their safety and their right to be here. I assured her that she is not alone. We hugged.
There were other smaller events, smaller moments of connection, moments where I saw someone hurting and made my allyship explicit and told them in no uncertain terms that I had their back, that I would work and fight and do everything in my power to keep them and those they love from harm, and that I was not alone in this effort.
Friends, again, I ask you – stand up, speak up, reach out – protect those who are feeling abandoned by their nation, who feel threatened not just by this president, but by the people who voted him into office. Recognize their fear, and offer them support.
I see people asking what the big deal is, I’ve seen and heard people joking about deportation… This is not a joke, this is not a drill. During this campaign people were threatened in direct and explicit terms, and the person who threatened them is now our president-elect.
Feel that. What would you need in order to feel safe in that environment? Offer that. Exude that. Being an ally requires action, it requires compassion, it requires letting your guard down enough to see, and it requires owning that fixing this mess is our job.
Let’s get to work.
pretendhug

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Filed under Naive idealism, Rant, Things that work

Do Not Go Softly Into This Alt Right

Yesterday I wrote about what I told my children regarding the results of this election. It focused on being upstanders, being active, vigilant allies for the people who Trump has vowed to harm. Then I talked a little about my extra role as an adult, that along with being a more active ally, I also needed to listen to the people who had voted for Trump and try to understand their fears, try to understand exactly what it is they voted for, what exactly do they mean when they say they want to Make America Great *AGAIN* – Because I think it’s that word again (along with all of the rhetoric that was hateful to everyone who is not an able-bodied, cisgender, heterosexual, upper-middle class, white male) that has a lot of us worried. I talked about wanting to try to move past this “us vs them” rift that has grown so wide in our country.

One of my readers, James, took issue with that last bit, and while I haven’t gone back this morning to read exactly what I wrote – his specific issue resonated strongly, especially after the day I had yesterday in school listening to the very real fears of my classmates, my instructors, my friends and my family. I fear that my words may have actually sounded too reconciliatory, so I wanted to clarify.

First, the complaint – That I made too strong an equivalence between Clinton supporters and Trump supporters, because Clinton supporters by and large have genuine things to fear from a Trump presidency (because we all have genuine things to fear from this next four years), while Trump supporters by and large did not have genuine things to fear from a Clinton presidency – most of their fears were based on lies. He also took issue with my claim that the Democrats were as much to blame for the “us/them” rift in our country as the Republicans, and cited the overwhelming and unprecedented Republican obstructionism throughout Obama’s term.

He is right on both counts.

Here is a brief list of real, substantiated fears that I heard yesterday – a list that made me realize that despite my attempts to reassure my children that we, personally, would be okay, has made me realize that no, we are also fighting for our lives.

  1. Repeal of the Affordable Care Act and the insurance coverage it provided to millions of people who could not previously have insurance due to pre-existing conditions.
  2. Reversal of Roe v Wade and further attacks on women’s reproductive rights at the same time that we elected the poster child for rape culture to the highest office in the land.
  3. Marriage equality and LGBTQ* rights.
  4. The safety and rights of Muslim people, middle eastern people, Latinx and Hispanic people, Black people, immigrants, refugees.
  5. Climate Change
  6. Further privatization of education, including additional public money going to private religious education, and the further encroachment of Christianity into public schools.
  7. Expansion of our current wars, erosion of diplomatic efforts in favor of military “solutions” in other conflicts.
  8. Erosion of the social safety net
  9. Reduction or elimination of the minimum wage

There is so much else that we were making progress on as a country – was it frustratingly slow, absolutely, but the arc of history was bending toward justice. And now, it feels like we have just slammed the brakes on all of that.

By comparison, what did people have to fear from a Clinton presidency? What did they have to lose?

White privilege. At least that’s what our liberal knee-jerk reaction seems to be. But the truth is, the majority of people who voted for trump are blue collar workers, they are rural farmers, they make their living from energy industries threatened by the progress I want to see our world make. And this is where the listening comes in – because we have to be willing to see and understand that for a lot of Trump supporters, their livelihoods really are being threatened. We have to hear that. THEN, we can maybe help them understand that it is not some shady, nefarious, liberal elite cabal that is doing them harm, but the actual policies of people like Donald Trump who lobby to re-write tax laws to benefit the rich at the expense of the poor, who lobby to re-write trade deals and labor laws to benefit corporate CEOs at the expense of American workers, people who fight against unions and labor protection, and undercut the social safety net, even while they fight for the right to keep paying below poverty wages… We cannot help them see the benefits of our idea of progress, if we do not acknowledge the reasons they fear it.

As to the claim that Democrats are not as responsible for the rift as Republicans… Personally, I agree. I’ve watched Obama try to reach across the aisle, try to find compromise, try to moderate himself, moving from the center to ever more right (though this last year of “give no fucks” Obama has been a welcome tack back to the leftish). I’ve heard both Hillary Clinton and President Obama call for us to come together, to heal, to find common ground and ways to work together to move the nation forward – despite the divisive rhetoric spouted by Trump. I’ve watched the Republicans in office engage in unprecedented levels of obstructionism, culminating in them leaving a supreme court seat vacant for the better part of a year rather than even consider a well-regarded centrist judge proposed by Obama and vow to continue to block literally any nominee proposed by Clinton should she win. I have seen Democrats get elected because they tout their ability to reach across the aisle at the same time I have seen Republicans be denied office for the same thing, while their opponent takes the nomination, and the seat, by promising to refuse compromise.

Our democracy is broken. And that, I think was the message we heard in this election. Whether you see it in the popularity of Bernie Sanders, an actual leftist, or the win of Donald Trump – a non-Republican who won on a promise of #HulkSmash.

I think this is what I was struggling with yesterday – because I’ve been so incredibly frustrated the systematic breaking down of our government during Obama’s tenure – the way that Republicans have refused to do their jobs, like two-year-olds having a tantrum. I’ve seen the government shutdowns over things like women’s rights, gay rights, etc. I’ve seen the refusal to engage on issues not only of deep importance to the American people, but also issues of popular consensus – things like universal background checks for gun purchases. I’ve seen it – and it grossed me out.

But now… Now we have Trump, who campaigned on a platform of hate and fear. Who campaigned on a platform of us and them. Who made fascist style threats against his political opponent, threatening to lock her up. Who campaigned on promises of removing first amendment rights from journalists who dared to point out his flaws or challenge him in any way. The electoral college has elected a man who was endorsed by only two living world leaders – Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Il.

Meanwhile, the popular vote actually asked for Clinton. Meanwhile, no one seems to be talking about investigating the many reported irregularities that occurred this election, including Hillary Clinton’s name being misspelled on ballots to read “Hilliary” creating a near subliminal reinforcement of Trump’s “She’s a liar” rhetoric. No one seems to want to figure out how many voters were swayed by the strange last-minute shout of “there are more emails!” followed only after a few million votes were cast by, “never mind, nothing to see here.” No one seems to want to examine how many voters were disenfranchised by the rush to re-write voter ID laws after the Voting Rights Act was gutted, or how many were illegally turned away from the polls by poll workers who either didn’t understand their state’s new laws, or acted from actual malice.

The race has been conceded – but we cannot surrender!

I’m grappling with what that means – what that looks like.

Here in Colorado, it means continuing our state’s march toward progress. Continuing to work for a greener future. Continuing to be more inclusive of more people, while defending their basic human rights, including the right to bodily autonomy and the right to make their own decisions about their health care.

As a nation, we have to require that our elected representatives do what I told my children to do – defend those who cannot defend themselves, stand up for those people are at risk of harm from a Trump presidency, uphold and defend the civil liberties of the people Trump has threatened, hold the line on health care, refuse to allow the ACA to be repealed unless a true alternative is proposed that will ensure health care coverage for all the Americans who are currently insured – and hopefully expand that access to even more people. Hold the line on women’s reproductive rights, refuse to back down. Hold the line on LGBTQ rights. Hold the line on climate policy and green energy. But it’s not enough – when I say we have to expand rights and access, we have to remember why people voted for Trump – and we have to include those people in our plans too. We have to expand access to training programs to help people move from dying industries to thriving industries. We have to invest in infrastructure to assist businesses – and create jobs, but we have to do it consciously.

We cannot go backwards. We might be able to survive a halt in progress, but we cannot allow a reversal of all that we have worked for and created. We cannot turn our backs on our children’s futures.

And even as I type this, I can hear the voices of my Republican readers, of my middle of the road readers, saying, “So, basically you’re asking Democrats to engage in the same tactics that made you so mad at the Republican party?” And that is what I’ve been struggling with – because I want a working government. I want us to make progress as a nation. I want the USA to become a leader in the world again for something beyond most “boots on the ground,” most people imprisoned and most gun deaths per capita. I’d love to see my nation become a leader in human rights, in environmental policy and progress, in education, in health care, in the eradication of poverty.

But that’s not what Trump has promised. That’s not what is on the table. And we cannot be complicit to hate, to intolerance, to the destruction of democratic values and systems.

What keeps ringing through my head as I type this is, “Democracy is dead, long live Democracy.”

The system is broken, in some way, for just about everyone. For the last eight years we have watched the Republican party deliberately and intentionally break it more, all the while shouting, “look, see, it doesn’t work, we should tear it down.” So is it really any surprise that the candidate their base nominated won on an outsider promise to smash the system and rebuild it in his image? But have you seen his image?

So no, I will not go quietly into this Alt Right. I will work with whatever means I have, whatever tools I can use to keep us from going backwards. I will work to elect public officials who will vow to hold the line on the progress we have made and to do what they can to push for more where and when they can. If that looks like obstructionism, if that looks like divisiveness, if that looks like the death of democracy… I would rather that than to have historians look back at this election and say, “See there, children, that is how fascism begins, that is how it starts – with fear and hate, and with people who knew better giving in to it in the name of healing and reconciliation.” Because we do know better. We have seen this play out before – and we know we cannot give in.

We are the rebellion.

irebel

Love trumps hate.

 

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Filed under Naive idealism, Of Course I'm a Feminist, Rant

What I told my children

A few folk have asked me what I told my children this morning, so I thought I’d repeat it here, because it seems like something perhaps we all need to hear, and say, and do.

This morning when I woke up, my Youngin was already awake. She was listening to the radio and making angry signs in her room. I walked in and sat down next to her and she leaned into me and we cried together for a minute.

I told her I was sorry, so very, very sorry.

Then I wiped her tears, and mine, and took a deep breath and told her that it was okay to be angry, it was okay to be upset and scared and frustrated and disappointed. It was okay to have all of those feelings.

BUT.

Then I told her that we, personally, were going to be okay. The world was not going to change that much for us. We are not the people Trump has targeted in his speeches and at his rallies.

BUT.

That does not mean we can exhale and relax. The fact that we do not have targets on our backs does not make this any less of a disaster for our nation. And this is a disaster.

I reminded her of the Mr. Rogers Meme that tells people in disasters to look for helpers, and I told her that we HAD TO be the helpers this time. Because we are “safe,” because we are going to be “okay” we have to stand up, we have to use our voices and our power to help the people who have been targeted, who are not safe, who Trump promised will not be okay.

I told her that today was going to be a really hard, really scary day for a lot of her friends, and that they were going to need her. More than ever. I reminded her what it means to be an ally, that it is not an identity, it is action – and that today, and the next four years, that was our job. To be there, to hold the lines, to interrupt hate speech, to disrupt violence. I reminded her of Michelle Obama’s words – when someone goes low, our job is to go high. We cannot give in to fear, or let it turn into hate.

an-ally-is

I told her that her job was to be there for her friends. To hug them, to reassure them, and to work for their safety and well being. She’s already such a strong “upstander,” but she’s been seeing and living the Trump Effect. I told her it would likely get worse and that we would need to be ever more vigilant, and ever more ready to support and defend people, to keep them safe. I reminded her of her adult allies in her school, the people she could turn to if she saw or heard violence directed at another student – or at herself, because after all we just elected a sexual predator for president.

Trump held up a mirror for me and showed me the truth of what my LGBTQ friends, my Latinx friends, my Black friends, my Muslim friends, my immigrant friends, my poor friends, my sick friends – have all been saying for YEARS. Yes – it is this bad. We, allies, cannot bury our heads in the sand anymore. Not for one more second. We need to take a long, hard look in this mirror and recognize our part in this, and then we need to get to work.

upstander

I reminded her of her classmate who, after their school’s mock election, said, “I voted for Trump.” and then looked around the room at all of his Latinx classmates and said with sincere feeling, “But don’t worry. I also asked God not to let him deport anyone.” Because kids are not born hating, or fearing. They are taught that. Our job is to teach them love. Our job is to reach out to those people who voted for Trump, but prayed that he wouldn’t be allowed to do the things he said he would do, and talk to them. Compassionately. We need to figure out what they were voting for – or against – if it wasn’t the hate we all heard.

And then I told her that my job, as an adult, as someone who is safe, is to do that work – the work of reaching out, of listening to people who voted for Trump, of hearing them. Because last night I fell asleep thinking about what I needed to do to protect the people he promised to harm, I fell asleep in a pit of “what the actual fuck?” But when I woke up, I realized that if this election had gone the other way, half of America would have felt the same existential dread that I feel right now. Half of America was more scared of Hillary Clinton than of an openly misogynistic, racist, xenophobic, narcissistic bully. No matter which way you slice it, half of America believes that America is going down the drain, and taking them with it. Half of America feels left out, shut out, torn down.

We truly are a nation divided.

As an adult, it is my job to break down THAT WALL. That wall that the media has helped to build, that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have helped build, that all of this us and them rhetoric has helped build. There is no us and them – we’re all in this boat together, so we’ve got to stop shouting and start listening.

We have got to appeal to our better angels.

We have got to rise above.

As Katie Goodman would say, we have got to unfuck this up.

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Filed under Naive idealism, Of Course I'm a Feminist, Rant, Things that work