On November 8, 2016, as it became clear that an autocrat would soon seize the White House, I received nervous messages from friends around the country who, surprised or not, were already feeling the impact of what’s now looming overhead.
The dread of a coming storm sunk in that Tuesday night, and I was one of the people who didn’t see it coming. Say what you will about that, whether it was denial or an absurd reliance on polls and punditry — whatever it was, I was wrong, and I had been bracing for the wrong ugliness. As harsh as Clinton’s neoliberal platform would have been for my people, and many others, we are now faced with an era of unabashed, unapologetic white supremacy, xenophobia, transphobia, criminalization and more.
As a queer Native woman, a journalist and an organizer, I know I will not be safe in the days ahead, and that many of the people I love and work with will also find themselves imperiled. I will not reiterate the dangers we face here, as that has been done elsewhere, and no one knows them better than those who have been fighting those evils for a very long time — those who have been surviving in spite of this country’s rules and norms for years, and who will hopefully be surviving, healing and building long after this presidency is tossed on the trash heap of history.
The day after the election, I put out a call to a few of my friends to ask what they might say to other marginalized people, in this moment, to express their love and solidarity. These words are not about the horrifying man who is about to assume so much power over the world we live in, but about us. They are about how we, as marginalized people — Native people, Black people, queer people, Muslims, sex workers and survivors — can come together now, and hold each other up. These words are about our love for each other, and our will to survive. This work is by no means representative of every demographic that will be harmed by this administration, but it is a chorus from the margins, offering what we can in this difficult moment. We hope that it brings some comfort to those in need of solace, here and now, and that it creates a space we can all return to in the days ahead, to be reminded of our strength and love for one another.
Even those of us with a disciplined sense of hope sometimes need to be held close and reminded of our strength, and that justice is possible. In spite of everything that’s happening, I believe in us. I hope you do too.
Ejeris Dixon: Black queer organizer; Founding Director of Vision Change Win Consulting; grassroots strategist
I have to admit that I am scared, and I am anxious. My fear has created actions, openings and conversations that false certainty or false confidence wouldn’t have made possible. My fear has pushed me to assess the conditions that we’re in, recognize what we’re up against, and build deeper with my people. My fear has been a powerful force pushing me to navigate this moment honestly and strategically.
As there is power in fear, there is power in survival. So many of us have experienced multiple times — when we figured out how to survive when the strategy wasn’t clear. When we were alone and outnumbered, when the world told us that we didn’t deserve to exist. There is beauty and brilliance in our survival. Now we must draw upon those lessons to protect our communities. I am not fully sure of what the future holds and what it will require of us. I do know that I exist within a community that is passionate, loving and resourceful and we won’t leave our people behind.
Above all, don’t forget that you are loved, beautiful, valuable and needed. That your people care for you — your people, who struggled and resisted and who continue to live through your existence. Resistance is in your blood, your dark skin, your clenched fist, your accent and the folds of your hijabs. Don’t forget who came before us, or who may now come after us. First and foremost, we must take care of ourselves. For me, reading is healing. I take strength from Nayyirah Waheed’s poetry, Assata Shakur’s autobiography, Mahmoud Darwish’s resistance and Fanon’s anger.
Consume what lights your soul on fire.
We must also love our people intensely and intentionally. We must organize, show up, support, build and challenge — challenge the racism; the anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, gender-based violence; and the erasure of the Indigenous people of this land within our own communities. Because there is no liberation without collective liberation.
We must abolish and build together. We must understand that we can’t abolish the police without also abolishing the military.
We must document our work, tell our own stories and constantly reimagine the world we want to live in. Because we cannot rely on our oppressors to tell our stories. Just as we cannot rely on our oppressors to free us.
Victoria Moore: Black American writer
In the first few days after the election, I was disturbed by the lack of positivity I held for the future of marginalized peoples. For the complete lack of hope I’d had for us. It’d taken me a while to realize that, yes, perseverance would come. We, if nothing else, have a steady and ingrained talent for persevering — though not often by choice — but that there would be grief in the meantime. There would be fear and the feeling of isolation that comes with being marooned in the sea of hatred that we’d always known was there, but was now increasingly showing its violent face.
Know that now, in this moment, there is no weakness in falling into the arms of your community and ancestors for support — be it emotional, physical, financial or spiritual. Know that there is nothing wrong with feeling, deeply and painfully, the growing intensity of this fight for ourselves and our loved ones. Though we are adept at fighting with stunning fervor, to do so without caring for our emotional and spiritual selves, or without letting our communities care for our emotional and spiritual selves, is to deny our own humanity. With every fight must come rest, and when those times come, your community is here for you. We are here for you.
William C. Anderson: Black American writer
Since I love you, I’m not going to tell you not to let go, give up or break down. I’m here for you if you need my love to make something new in the midst of all the rotting repetition around us. Part of the love I have for you is rooted in freedom and that’s defined differently for everyone. Sometimes liberation looks like leaving. The leaves that are falling around me as I write this are not necessarily dying; they’re being released into their next form and taking on a new purpose, unfettered. It’s because I love you that I want you to know you have my full support if you choose to fall away, but if you decide to keep hanging on I’ll still love you too. My love for you isn’t selfish; it’s timeless and intentional like all the feelings I have inside.
The specter of failed hope shakes us to our cores in the shadow of a concluding, long and disappointing day. So many things were supposed to be here for us, for mine and for yours. They weren’t there and the warmth we felt for a brief moment was all the illusion of another passing season. Now, we’re entering into a new winter whose cold we cannot even imagine. So now, it’s your turn. I’m not going to tell you to keep me warm, light a fire, or even stay with me. I only want you to do what’s best for you and if that should happen to start something much bigger that helps, I’ll still love you just like I would if you decided to fade with the coming whiteness of a winter storm.
HL: mentally ill femme, rural artist, sex worker, reiki practitioner, death midwife
To my fellow healers, survivors and warriors:
I wish I knew something wise or reassuring to tell you right now. All I can say is that I see you. I am inspired by you. You make me want to try harder. You make me want to become the best version of myself and help this world become a better version of itself. It is a miracle that you are here. All I can tell you now is how I intend to hold myself together in this moment, in the hope that it aids your own efforts.
I will wake up and remember. I will go into the woods to forage. Despite my wish to be invisible, when I am out in the world, I will try to establish eye contact and say hello to every person I see. I will demand recognition and I will take up space. I will visit the Alzheimer’s patients I see as a hospice volunteer and appreciate the hours I spend sharing their realities, temporarily putting aside the fear and uncertainties of this one. I will spend time with the Little Sister I mentor — I will do everything in my power to make sure that she grows up knowing that she is loved and that she matters.
During this critical time, I will call upon my skills as a Death Midwife to hold space for all the difficult emotions that are part of any grieving process, including denial, blame and anger. I will try to stay focused on love and compassion. I will not expect anyone else to be in this mindset. I will accept that I do not have any answers. I will do what I have always done — I will survive.
The thought that has been providing me with a surprising amount of grounding: We wanted to be here. We asked for this. We’ve pushed against the very walls of empire, demanded they be pulled up at their foundation, and empire is pushing back. We expected this. We’ve prepared for this, and now it is happening on a larger scale. This is a mark of our success, not our defeat. This is a testament to the force of our organizing, an indicator of our political strength. This is proof that our movements are working. Let’s not, when faced with what we always knew was coming, abandon movement.
When fighting militarization, expect a militarized response. When confronting racism, expect bigotry. When demanding abolition, expect material consequences for those demands. Expect the systems you fight to fight back with every tool that makes them poisonous.
Now is not the time to retreat. To reflect? Absolutely. To process our fear and hurt together? Let’s be sure we do that. To reevaluate our tactics and reach out to new communities that can help us deepen them? Yes. But it’s not time to be intimidated. It is a moment to recognize our conviction, look with clarity at our collective potential and keep moving. Thank yourself, your people and your ancestors for all that we’ve already accomplished. Pace yourself. Find grounding wherever it exists for you. Imagine what more we can do.