It was cold and rainy in Ohio. Everyone at work was walking around looking shell-shocked, like they couldn't believe it had come to this; even the people who voted for this travesty were somber, like they were at a funeral. I felt like I was on the verge of tears all day. It reminded me of the mood on 9/11. I felt gutted, devastated. Guilty because I hadn't done enough, enraged at the people who were too lazy to get off their couch and vote, but mostly just helpless and scared.
After a couple days, cooler heads on social media began to emerge. It is what it is, they said. There's nothing we can do about it now. We have to roll with it. It will be all right. Fear won't solve anything. We should not be afraid.
I beg to differ. When white supremacists are literally out celebrating in the streets, we should all be afraid.
Fear's an underrated emotion. Fear is what tells the zebra to run from the lion. Fear keeps us from playing in traffic or setting our hair on fire. And fear is what's gonna keep us from rolling over and letting a racist demagogue and his army of hateful drones have their way with our country.
I'm afraid because Trump won't take office for months but already racists feel emboldened and empowered. They've crawled out of the holes where they've been hiding, started acting out their hatred. Social media is overflowing with stories from people of color telling stories of violence and harassment. Black people being told that Trump's going to send them back to Africa, Latinos/as report being physically intimidated. Muslim women report having their hijabs violently ripped from their heads.
Folks will say that these stories are made up, are exaggerations. But we have pictures, videos, corroboration. Schools admitting, against their own interests, to racist incidents in the hallways. People of color, non-Christians, queer folks are threatened and those of us with privilege don't get to tell them how to feel about it.
I'm afraid because the Southern Poverty Law Center reports that leaders of racial hate groups are actively encouraging their members to harass minorities. As Neo-Nazi leader Andrew Anglin has said, “Our Glorious Leader has ascended to God Emperor. Make no mistake about it: we did this.”
I'm afraid because women I care about depend on Planned Parenthood for their health care. I'm afraid because if Trump and congressional Republicans succeed in de-funding Planned Parenthood, it will mean fewer women with access to affordable birth control, fewer women with access to STD testing, fewer women with access to cancer screenings, fewer women with access to low-cost prenatal care.
I'm afraid for my queer friends, who feel less safe, who are already being harassed by bigots. I'm afraid because the the vice president and many of the folks whose names Trump has dropped for cabinet positions are rabidly anti-gay, have promised to strip away every right queer folk have fought and died for. I don't know how much success they'll have, but I do know that our country will be in the hands of folks who want to strip our rights away and that's reason to be afraid.
I'm afraid for the planet. Trump probably doesn't have the power to dismantle the EPA, but he can sure as hell appoint people who will try to tear it apart from the inside, who will fight environmental regulations as long as they have breath.
I am afraid. But fear is a call to action, after all. Fear is useless if we don't run from the lion, if we play in traffic anyway, if we do nothing in the face of a government conceived in hate and dedicated to the proposition that that some people's rights are more important than others.
Consider checking here for Planned Parenthood volunteer opportunities, or calling your local Planned Parenthood to thank them for what they do and ask how you can help. Preventing pregnancy is the best way to prevent abortion. If you don't have time to volunteer, maybe donate? Fun fact: you can make your donation in honor of Mike Pence and they'll send him a lovely certificate :).
Consider visiting the RAINN website to look in to volunteer opportunities; you could volunteer to work sexual assault hotlines or help the organization educate folks in your community about sexual assaults.
You could become a member of the Sierra Club, in hopes of helping combat the rising tide of motivated climate change deniers who will fight tooth and nail to prevent further research into renewable/sustainable energy.
Here's a list of other anti-hate, pro-planet charities you can give to or volunteer for if you want to harness your fear.
But mostly, listen. Listen to folks who say they're scared and let them know you've got their back. An artist called Maeril has made some awesome comics describing how you can be an ally without making a bad situation worse. You should share them all the hell over social media. Follow folks like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Feminista Jones, and Kimberly Ellis on social media, and answer their calls to action.
I am scared for my country. I'm more scared than I can ever remember being. I'm scared because racists are out in the open and they're less afraid than ever to preach their message of hate. I'm afraid. And I'm not going to stop being afraid. And it's that fear that's going to keep me from just sitting by while bigots and demagogues try to tear our country away from us.
And for the love of God, people, please don't call it "Trump's America." This is our America. We have to fight to keep it.
Also, can I just say that preparing and singing Hallelujah live with literally a day's notice when you're not a professional musician is just ridiculous? Is there anything Kate McKinnon can't do?