Protecting your physical and mental health and your rights under the threat of the most right-wing presidential administration in decades.
On Nov. 8, an openly racist and sexist man, happy to receive the enthusiastic support of neo-Nazi’s and the Ku Klux Klan and champion sexual assault against women, was elected president of the United States.
During a nightmare presidential campaign, millions were horrified by Trump supporters’ flood of hateful, discriminatory rhetoric, but we were sure we would be delivered from evil come Election Day. Instead, the unthinkable became reality — hate won the White House in the United States.
Millions are angered and outraged, but the potential toll on us — black women (who overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton) and our families is a little different. We’ve endured years of violence against us, our sons and daughters in recent years, we live an almost daily fight against sexism and racism (or “misogynoir”) to build our careers, safely raise our children and even enjoy love relationships. Now we face a national mood and presidential administration that threatens our rights as women and as an African-descended people living in the United States in ways that have not been seen in decades.
Do Not Despair
Yet, this is not a time to get angry. To begin with, rage harms your health, not your enemy’s. Get active. America may seem like a terribly hostile place right now, but the truth is, the majority of Americans did not support Trump’s racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, homophobic agenda. Hillary Clinton’s received 2 million more votes thanTrump. He won because of the electoral college, a bizarre political device created to protect slavery.
Inhale deeply. Exhale slowly and realize that everyone around you is not a Trump-supporting bigot. The majority of Americans still desire a tolerant, diverse society. That said, we are now living in a challenging, painful time. Here’s what to do to protect yourself and your family and how to fight back:
Get serious about your health. Decades of research shows that living in a racist environment harms our mental and physical health. If listening to the vicious presidential campaign wasn’t enough to get your pressure up, you may be living in any one of the communities where racist incidents are on the rise. The stress you feel is real, but keeping it from harming your cardiovascular health and increasing other risks means having a plan.
▪ Manage stress. Over the next few years, there’s little doubt that you will experience things that will make you furious and possibly afraid. Find a method of coping that works for you. Studies show that spirituality, racial pride, family cohesion and social support, even the power of our music can help you ease tension.
▪ Use your Obamacare. That’s right, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act it still in effect. Republicans are obsessed with eliminating President Obama’s signature legislation, but it will take years to dismantle health care reform. The Open Enrollment period has begun, so sign up and get your free well woman and preventive care visit now. The Republicans will not be able to stop you.
- Fight for your rights. Many of us (if you’re under 60) have been blessed to come of age in a time when we took our civil rights for granted. That is no longer the case. With Trump’s win, the Republicans now control the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. That means every law they have wanted to overturn for decades is on the chopping block. Here are some of the most important laws at stake:
▪ Don’t lose Dr. King’s legacy: The Civil Rights Acts of 1964, 1965 and beyond could be lost. Amendments to ensure our civil rights began in 1863 with the 13th Amendment. It abolished slavery. But voting rights and the prohibition against discrimination in accommodations, employment and other public and private activities are enshrined in the Acts of 1964 and 1965, now at risk in a Trump administration. The NAACP, Al Sharpton and others are developing a strategy to defend our rights. Follow them carefully, and offer your support in any way that you can.
▪ Support a woman’s right to choose. Donations to Planned Parenthood have skyrocketed in the past week, but that may not be enough. Be prepared to do your part. Remember, Planned Parenthood not only provides family planning advice and safe abortions, the organization offers reproductive health care to millions of women. Republicans intend to destroy Roe v. Wade, which protects a woman’s right to privacy and to control her reproductive choices. Trump has promised to nominate only anti-abortion judges to the U.S. Supreme Court. He and his vice president, Mike Pence, have also suggested that women who have abortions should be punished. Don’t send women back to an era of coat hangers and back-alley health care. Do your part.
Sadly, this is just a partial list. Trump also hopes to eliminate Medicaid, limit Medicare, cut all laws that protect the environment, challenge a free press and expand gun rights.
Boycott hate – At times like this, we may feel powerless, but we are not. You may have children and a family to care for or a job you cherish that you would lose if you protested publicly. But there is one powerful way you can fight Trump — vote with your wallet. Boycotting his supporters is a private act. Check out the free Boycott Trump app and stay away from the companies listed below.
History shows us that when we hold back black dollars, laws change. Even celebrities recognize the value of anti-Trump boycotts. Follow the activities of anti-Trump demonstrators who are doing their best to create a list of Trump supporters to boycott. Here are the companies we know about today:
▪ Carl’s Jr., Hardee’s, Green Burrito and Red Burrito – All of these companies are owned by CKE restaurants. They make million off African Americans, but they publicly support Trump’s racist campaign. Eat elsewhere.
▪ Home Depot – The company’s co-founder, Kenneth Langone, was a huge Trump supporter. The billionaire is retired, but likely still earns money from the company. It’s simple: Home Depot = Trump. Go to Lowe’s to safeguard the future.
▪ New Balance sneakers – We’re not saying it’s a bad thing, but black folks spend about $2 billion a year on athletic shoes; so don’t waste any of that money on sneakers by New Balance. The company not only endorsed Trump, but it also attacked Obama.
▪ Yuengling and Coors beer. Want a cold one? Just order something else. These brands endorsed the Trump agenda.
- Become a sanctuary. At times like these, one of the most powerful things you can do is encourage tolerance. Trump has pledged to outlaw sanctuary cities — places where refugees and immigrants have safe haven, but you can support diversity. In addition, he is terryfying children of color. Let’s show our kids that we are one.
▪ Give a party. Do you have Muslim, Jewish, Latino, LGBT or other neighbors from other ethnicities, cultures or gender identities that you barely know? Get in touch. Maybe hold a social activity that brings you and your children together. We are far more powerful together than we will ever be apart, so let’s support each other
- They have gone low, so let’s go high! Trump voters support many things, but their primary shared issue is racism. That’s why it is so heart-breaking to see some African Americans — some sellouts, some Christians and others — publicly or privately support Trump.
We are stronger and better when we try to understand each other, so if you have Trump supporters in your life, try to listen to their side, but then share yours. Perhaps they are too young to understand how our civil rights were achieved and could be lost. Or, it may be that they just don’t realize that when you vote to take away someone else’s rights — in this case millions of people of color, women, gay men and women, immigrants and even the disabled — you just may end up losing your own.
Mae Jordan is an independent journalist in New York and Washington, D.C.