Vile Presidents and How to Handle Them

SOURCE: Flickr SOURCE: Flickr

Well, it’s happened. Trump is President of The United States of America. Has been for over two weeks now. Even though I watched the whole debacle unfold, saw the election results on the news, joined in with the debates, I still somehow thought it would never happen. Someone, somewhere would find a loophole. Or else they’d realise they’d miscounted the votes and declare Hillary POTUS by default. I mean, it is preposterous. Donald Trump, president. It’s something that even all the eleven and twelve year olds I work with know is a bad idea. Then again, I had confidence that Brexit wouldn’t happen either and look what happened there.

But, as sad, disappointed, and ever so slightly terrified as I am, my message isn’t one of fear. It isn’t one of hate or anger either. It’s a message of hope.

One thing I’ve learned throughout this whole fiasco is that no matter how bizarre the world becomes, no matter how dark its message is, we don’t have to accept it. On the 21st of January, millions of people marched in every corner of the world and the sight of it filled my heart with so much warmth. Black, white, Asian, Latinx, Trans, gender non-conforming, cis, gay, bi, straight, disabled. All walks of life came together, and instead of being ‘them’ and ‘those’ and ‘I’, we were all united as ‘we’. It was beautiful. I cried at countless articles. I laughed at the sheer ingenuity of some of the signs people were proudly holding high. In that moment the world fought back. As America did again  outside JFK Airport when Donald imposed his disgusting travel ban which initially prevented an estimated 500,000 legal residents of the US from returning home as well as denying safety to those fleeing from danger. And we will continue to fight. Fascism will not win now, or ever.

Here are some good ways to bite back at the world:

1. Let the light in
As Dumbledore said, “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, when one only remembers to turn on the light.” As hard as it might be to believe, this still stands. The only way to beat someone is to be better than them. We need to be happier, more intelligent, more hopeful and more united than ever and kill that c*nt with kindness. We need to focus on the opposition. The stunningness of all these people coming together to fight against fascism. One good thing about dark times is that it’s easier to see the light; this is the time when we’ll realise just how good the large majority of the world is and how far we’re willing to go for justice. Unfortunately for us, right now that majority, are not the ones in power.

2. Protest protest protest
I couldn’t protest today because of work commitments. I was heartbroken. Somehow, sitting at home hours later, angrily typing, doesn’t quite feel like you’re doing enough. But there are countless reasons why people can’t protest. Because of illness, disability, social anxiety, money issues if you have to travel to a protest, or the inability to run the risk of arrest. And let’s not forget, arrest is a greater risk for women of colour than it is for white protesters! But if you are able to fight, bloody well do it. And shout about it, share it on social media, scream so loud your voice is heard. Remember the extra risks others carry and the lengths they are willing to go to fight for justice. Do your bit. Fight for those who can’t. Make a difference. Unite.

3. Speak out! 
Open up discussions about what’s going on. Write about it, illustrate it, interpretive dance to it and educate others about it. Not everybody reads the news, not everybody thinks about what’s going on. It’s up to you to open up discussion. To let people know your views, why you think what’s happening is wrong, what we can do to help. It’s up to you to help others have platform where they feel comfortable enough to speak out. The more we learn about each other, the more we’ll be able to look at it from each others’ perspectives. If you’re white, it’s your job to teach other white people about their privilege. Stop practising white feminism and start practising intersectional feminism. And the more we talk about it, the more young people will engage in politics and create a different tune to dance to in the future.

4. Stay informed
We have to know what we’re fighting against. We have to be informed so we can reason why it’s wrong. Read the papers, watch the news, and engage in debates on social media. Get involved. It’s easy to want to surround yourself with only the sunshine-warm glow of the liberal peacemakers but unfortunately, that’s not an option for everybody. As a white woman, who is privileged to live in the UK, it would be entirely possible for me to hide from the news. But it’s not as easy for those living in America. For the women at risk of unsafe abortions because of the reimposed global gag rule. For black Americans whose lives are endangered by the police every day. For Latina women who earn a meagre $0.58 to every dollar made by a white man. For the trans people who will be disproportionally affected by Planned Parenthood defunding. For refugees fleeing from civil war and Russian bombs, only to be told to go back because the US doesn’t want them and will not have them. Until they are granted the right to live in peace, and can take a break from the endless horrors in the news, we need to be bothered by it too. Until they stop having to fight, we need to fight too.

5. Brace yourself
It’s all very well me saying kill them with kindness, but the truth isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. You’re going to come across some pretty grotesque behaviour, particularly if you engage in debate on social media. Be prepared for a barrage of abuse and negativity. What people post these days isn’t pretty and can quite quickly deflate all the positivity you’ve mustered. Try not to rise to it. A lot of the time the people at the other side of the screen are angry people with no interest in politics, they just enjoy mouthing off. From experience I’ve learned that reasoning calmly often doesn’t work, mainly because the angriest trolls don’t really care if their argument makes sense. Just say your piece, take a deep breath and walk away with your head held high.

Remember, you are the better person and together, we are the better people.

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