A friend asked for language to describe the group of us who are so scared of a Trump administration. Referring to us as lacking in some way didn’t seem right or accurate. Because at this point the gold-plated bedpan’s assembled band of fascists aren’t just going after people who have traditionally been underrepresented in US society, they’re targeting anyone who isn’t a misogynist homophobic white supremacist (and even them if they’re not educated enough). So I’m thinking of us, the resisters, as “targets of Trumpism.” And there are going to be more and more of us as they create more and more policies designed to hurt new categories of people.
That means that people who usually see themselves as allies to underrepresented groups are themselves targets and need to figure out how to do more while still understanding the levels of harm that are going to happen. This is REALLY complicated. There are a lot of levels and thousands of years of hurt and division of groups that are now in this targeted group. I can sketch out a loose framework but you’re really going to have to let this settle in for yourself. (Maybe think about this when you’re awake in the middle of the night instead of worrying about the first 100 days.)
Some people are going to lose a lot more than others are. Some people are going to have a rough time. If Trumpists do everything they want to, some people are going to die or become so unhealthy (physically and emotionally) that they won’t recover.
Some people have always been at the bottom of the heap and have been living in a system that is actively hostile to them. They may not lose as much as others do simply because they don’t have anything in the first place. (100- 50 = 50, but 5 – 5 = 0. The one who started with 100 lost more, but the one who started with 5 now has nothing.)
This means it’s hard to make a strict hierarchy of who’s at the bottom and who’s at the top of our huge group of targets. So maybe it’s more straightforward to simply be sensitive to the fact that there are probably people who have more ability to fight than you do AND people who need care from you at every step. Be sensitive to that. Don’t get twisted in it and unable to act.
Some of the people targeted by Trumpism have been targets forever, and they have every right to feel resentful that suddenly now a lot of the rest of us are catching on to the fact that it’s a rigged system. And that some of us have thrived under systems that have harmed others of us. That resentment is reasonable and necessary for us to be able to work on the same team. Apologize and acknowledge, if you’re new to this. Don’t allow yourself to get tripped up by guilt or hurt, and don’t spend a second trying to justify yourself. Just do the work. (Justifying yourself is actually harming the people you’re trying to justify yourself to, because you’re asking them to approve something that harmed them. Instead, apologize sincerely and then make amends. You make amends by doing the work.)
That means (and don’t leave me here) that there’s room in this fight for people who voted for Trump. If you are a Trump voter who is horrified and really didn’t intend for this fascism to happen, come fight with us. We are still going to be angry at you, and it is going to take a long time for us to trust you or have respect for you again, but you can do this work, too. Start right now by shutting down negative talk in your world about people who are afraid of Trumpism and by calling out the scary stuff that’s happening. Do not try to justify yourself–justifying yourself only digs you in deeper. Instead, start fighting against harm to others. Acknowledge people’s fear and pain. Be a barrier against harm. Talk to your children about standing up for other kids in their schools. Physically intervene if you see harm. Hold others responsible for stopping harm and protecting others.
Here’s something else. You might have the sense that we are all in this together, but not have a lot of experience with people in groups that aren’t your own. You might be struggling to accept people in other groups even while you know you’re fighting for them, too. It might help if you start to frame your struggle to accept them (which may even be fear or resentment of them) as being around the central question of whether you think they’re essentially “right” or not.
You don’t have to decide if they’re right or not. You don’t have to answer that question. It doesn’t actually matter whether you think they’re right. All that matters is that you’re willing to listen to them when they tell you who they are and what they love, and accept that at face value. You don’t have to approve or disapprove. Just accept that what they say is the truth for them. And that your truth of yourself is true, too.
(It sounds too simple to work, but it does. I’m not sure how to describe this well, but there’s a place we all tend to grip down hard on in our chests when we’re trying to figure out what’s right. Let go of that like you’re letting go of the bar on the roller coaster so you can put your hands up in the air while you come down the hill. Do you feel that looseness when you aren’t burdened with the responsibility of making a judgment? You’re still safely in your seat, but you’re about to learn something good. If you need to grip again to get your balance, go ahead, but then let go when you can.)
We need everyone. Tomorrow I’m going to be practical.
All my love,