Tuesday night ended with me and two friends, silent in my living room, watching as the election slipped away. It didn’t feel real. The three of us stayed long past everyone else, past people leaving in a low grade panic— “I can’t watch this,” “I feel sick,” — past the end of the beer and the slow default to whiskey straight from my liquor cabinet. My phone buzzed against my hip, text messages from friends in other parts of the country— “I’m so sorry. We should have done more,” “Hey, just wanted to say I love you.” End of the world texts. None of us were ready.
On Wednesday I couldn’t focus on anything. Not work, not writing. I avoided the news. When I woke up and opened Instagram in bed, a terrible habit I can’t quite seem to shake, friend after friend had posted blank black screens— “Devastated.” “American horror story.” I felt my stomach turn. In the afternoon, I texted one of my friends in California, to check in on him and his partner. “We are devastated & thinking about getting married soon in case that ever stops being possible.” For the first time all day, I cried.
Today I’m starting to read the news again. I watched the Samantha Bee segment on the election results, and that felt okay. I started scrolling through my Facebook feed, through all the shock and horror, through the links to articles about what happened, how we got it all so wrong. A friend from DC who had planned to visit me out west during Inauguration Weekend cancelled her ticket, and I started looking at ways to fly out to her instead, to protest.
And as I scrolled through posts and articles and events and protest coverage, I found people using this hashtag: #NotMyPresident.
I think it’s bullshit.
I’m white. 58% of white people voted for Trump — over half of white women voters chose Trump, and over 60% of white men. Now, I didn’t vote for Trump. I hate everything he stands for. But white people and white supremacy elected him to office, and as a white person, that is my problem, no matter how terrified I am, no matter how much I cried yesterday, no matter how furious I am about what this means for everything and everyone that I love. I don’t get to disassociate myself from the endless stream of vitriol and nonsense that white people listened to, and heard, and decided was a cool way to run our country.
I’m glad people are fired up and I’m glad protests against Trump are being organized, but this was a democratic election. A whole bunch of Americans decided to walk into their polling place, uncap their pens, and vote for Trump. We, as Americans but especially as white Americans, chose Trump. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak to this— if you are white, Donald Trump is your president. #NotMyPresident is the same dissociative nonsense as #NotAllMen and #AllLivesMatter.
Trump is my president. Trump is your president. I do not get to pretend like white supremacy doesn’t benefit me every day, and I do not get to pretend that white supremacy didn’t put him in the Oval Office.
Marching against Trump is great, but this isn’t really about Trump. It’s about the hundreds of thousands of people who decided to elect him, it’s about systemic racism, and it’s about the culture and belief systems in our country that mean someone who is racist, sexist, misogynistic, isolationist, and Islamophobic will soon be our president. Protest Trump, that’s fine. I might see you there. But the real work will happen elsewhere.
There was work to do before Tuesday, and there is work to do today. If it’s been a while since you’ve been involved in local activism, call a friend who’s more involved than you are— they’ll be excited to hear from you, and they’ll put you in touch with the right folks. If you live near the border, talk to No More Deaths. If you live anywhere in the country, find your local Showing Up For Racial Justice chapter. Contact your local refugee and immigrant community centers. Contact Islamic associations and ask if there’s any way you can support their community. If wilderness matters to you, find an advocacy group in your town and call them. Pick a thing you care about, and start showing up for it— because from here on out, we can't take anything for granted.
I’m taking a few days to get my shit together. I’m talking to the people I care about and trying to drink water and eat a vegetable every once in a while, and I’m making a plan.
Donald Trump is my president, but I’m going to do everything I can to obstruct, undermine, and resist the agenda that he represents. Donald Trump is my president, but I'll be damned if he comes for the things and the people I love.