(Because you know that in a lot of ways, it won’t be).
So. We are all strapped into this spray-tanned, weak-chinned, bad-toupee-covered rocket, hurtling toward destruction, and it’s already on fire, and this is not the time for platitudes. You are probably feeling that lovely new cocktail of terrified, horrified, hopeless, enraged, and exhausted. Here are some things you can say to that JUST-GIVE-UP-FOREVER demon in your brain instead of that big lie, “It will be okay.”
1. “This is not normal.”
Never accept the media’s normalization of Trump, his beliefs, his lies, the people surrounding him, or the ways in which he gained a following and got elected.
You know that Muslims, people of color, LGBTQ people, immigrants and women are human beings. You know that they deserve rights and safety and happiness. You know that climate change is real and happening. You know that Russia should not be intervening in US elections. You know that white supremacists do not belong on a local school board, town council, or fucking neighborhood watch committee, let alone in the White House. You know that hate speech and hate crimes are on the rise thanks to this disastrous election and the vitriol spewed by those who are taking power.
Never, ever, lose sight of this, even if and when it seems that everyone around you has.
2. “I can help.”
At this point, I hope you’re having conversations about this insanity and what can be done. If you’re white, I hope that you are listening to, and lifting up the voices of, the people of color in your life, who will be much more vulnerable to the aftermath of this catastrophe. I hope you are understanding that they may not want to hear your voice right now.
I hope you have already signed the petitions and made the calls to Paul Ryan, to Mitch McConnell, and to your state representatives demanding that they condemn Steve Bannon’s appointment (and hold Trump accountable for his cabinet choices in general). I hope you are donating time or money to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Southern Poverty Law Center, or other organizations, whether local or national, that will be under attack as they fight the good fight over the next four years.
As I’m sure you’ve heard, Democrats also still have one more shot to flip a senate seat with the December 10th runoff in Louisiana — if you’re able, go donate a few bucks or make a few phone calls on behalf of Foster Campbell. He needs all of the support he can get, and we need all of the sanity on Capitol Hill we can get.
Continue to do these things daily or weekly. Continue to reach out to see where you are needed and how you can be a light in the dark or give comfort and solidarity to someone. This nightmare is much more real and immediate for some Americans, and we need to make sure they know that they are not alone and will not be abandoned.
3. “And I can ask for help.”
If you are feeling truly hopeless, please do not hesitate to call a crisis or suicide hotline. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) is always there to provide free and confidential support, and the Crisis Text Line can be reached by texting “START” to 741741. If you are dealing with harassment or threats to your safety, there are non-police resources for you. States have set up hotlines to deal with the increasing reports of hate speech and hate crimes — google yours to report any incidents immediately. Many, many people are struggling right now, and many other people are looking to help those who are.
Even if you are privileged enough not to be a visible target when you go out in public, you are likely dealing with a nice big bundle of anxiety and depression over the things that are happening out there right now. I have been leaning hard on my boyfriend, my friends, my dog, and on the stories and poetry that always give me what peace there is to be given in the darkest times. As hard as it is, as silly as you may feel, reach out. The only way forward is together.
4. “I’m not going to give up.”
I know it is truly overwhelming that this is how this election played out. That this is the country we live in now. That these four years of Trump haven’t even really started yet. I often become despondent and paralyzed by fear when I think of how much money and power is flowing on the other side. But I am so energized by how many people are already rising up to face this, by the anger and the love and activism I am seeing around me.
Outside of Washington, I am looking to the creators and the makers right now. I am reading, I am listening. Colson Whitehead, author of the brilliant and timely The Underground Railroad, gave us a simple directive in his National Book Awards acceptance speech. For now, I am taking deep breaths and keeping his words running on a beautiful loop through my panic and grief, and I suggest you do the same:
5. “Be kind to everybody, make art, and fight the power."
Top photo: Swastikas and "Go Trump" written on Adam Yauch playground in Brooklyn, via Twitter/Brad Lander
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Hannah Matthews is a musician, photographer, artist, and sometimes-writer living in New England. She graduated from Boston University with a degree in musicology and a whole lot of feminist rage. She's been published in publications incluidng SELF magazine and Time Inc. You can usually find her in the woods with her dog, or in her kitchen baking a pie, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.