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Sweatpants & Equality | How to Care for Ourselves & Others in Uncertain Political Times, Part 1

By Emmie Mears

Editor’s Note: While we believe that this article has done an excellent job focusing on the proposed policies of the incoming administration and on the facts, we recognize that some may view it as partisan. Sweatpants & Coffee is a non-partisan organization. We have chosen to highlight these concerns in the interest of community-building and bolstering good mental health, and as such, will be exercising a zero tolerance policy for hateful commentary. 

This election is affecting people’s health. The political is personal, and the personal is political. I truly believe that I would not be doing my job as a health blogger if I were to ignore this and pretend that everything is fine. It’s not. I’m not fine. I’m scared. I’m angry. I’m tired. I’m wondering if my health insurance will be intact a year from now. I know I’m not the only one, either – there are thousands of protests happening across the country, I’ve received more scared text messages than I have in a long time, and I have repeatedly wept with people who are fearing for their safety and rights.

This has been one fine mess of an election. Hundreds of hate crimes against different groups have happened since election night. The country is enormously divided and, to be honest, I’m not sure how we begin to bridge the divide on a large scale. However, a few of my fabulous advocate friends and I have some ideas about bridging the divide on an interpersonal level.

Huge thanks to Shannon Cheung, Hayley Cohen, Amanda Man, Allison Connelly, an anonymous journalist from a major scientific magazine, Kate Mitchell, Asheeka Desai, Sangeeta Sarkar, Lindsey Kayman, an anonymous lifestyle blogger, Seth Madison, an anonymous graduate student, Garrett Law, Agbo Ikor, Elizabeth Gonzalez, an anonymous animator, Estrella Sainburg, and Colleen Toole. I couldn’t have written this without you.

There are many people who are afraid for their lives after this Presidential election. There are also people who have no idea why others are scared and want to know more. This article is for all of you and everyone in between.

Here is how you can become a helper to communities that are terrified, as well as how you can take care of yourself during this difficult time. It’s about who is scared, why they’re scared, and what you can do to show solidarity.

Wearing a safety pin, although a beautiful gesture, isn’t going to be enough in these times. Let’s not make the same mistakes as bystanders in previous historical periods of crisis. Let’s not wait to help until it’s our group at risk. Let’s get into gear now. Now is the time to fortify yourself with knowledge and know that it’s absolutely okay to not be an expert. You can still be a source of strength. The worst thing to do right now is to be silent or even to make fun of people who are scared or protesting for being “whiny.” Show your love, compassion, and solidarity right now. That’s what matters. My goal in having put this together has been to provide a safe, judgment-free zone where we all can learn together how we can do better, and how we can build solutions as a community.

If you are scared, know that you are loved and that I’m with you 100%.

In part one of this article, we will discuss these groups:

People of color (black, Native American, Latinx/Hispanic, and Asian), immigrants and refugees, LGBTQIA folks, disabled folks (with physical and/or mental illnesses), religious minorities (Muslims and Jews).

But before we get to those specific groups, I want to provide some basic resources – definitions, simple actions to take – that transcend any one particular group, and self-care resources for people that are worried.

First, some definitions, in case you aren’t familiar with the lingo:
What is privilege? | What is intersectionality? | What is rape culture? | What are racism and systemic racism? | What do the different letters in LGBTQIA stand for? | What is conversion therapy? | Free books about race, gender, sexuality, and class | Different kinds of flawed arguments (fallacies)

Second, some resources for taking actions that transcend any one particular group:
How to report a hate crime | How to call your representative (includes calling scripts, phone numbers, and everything else you could need) [and some tips on how to do it if you have social anxiety] | How to get your congressperson to listen to you | Republican party survey about what you want to see happen in the first 100 Days | What to ask your local officials | How to stay safe at protests | How to organize | How to make your activism intersectional | Companies to boycott | Basic kindness tips

Third, self-care resources for people that are worried:
Concrete suggestions for preparation for January | Creating a bad moment bag | What are your different emotions telling you? | Affirmations | Resources for anxiety | Resources for grief | 10 ways to look after your mental well-being | 101 self-care ideas | Self-care resources | Alternatives to self-harm | Different suicide hotline and textline phone numbers | How to call your representatives if you have social anxiety | 19 calm questions to ask people who voted differently from you | 12-step program for living in a Trump presidency | Proof that people can change (documentary on Netflix) | Idea: donate even a dollar to different organizations each time that Trump does or says something harmful to a certain group

Now, on to the groups that are scared of a Trump presidency: why they’re scared, what you can do to show solidarity in words and deeds, and organizations you can volunteer at or donate to. 

People of color (black, Native American, Latinx/Hispanic, and Asian)

Black

Why they’re scared:

What you can do to show solidarity:

Organizations to donate to or volunteer at:

Native American

Why they’re scared:

What you can do to show solidarity:

Organizations to donate to or volunteer at:

Latinx/Hispanic

Why they’re scared:

  • Read President Elect Trump’s immigration plan.
  • Many have friends or family members who are now at greater risk of being deported, or they may be undocumented themselves. Many undocumented immigrants came because of increased opportunities in the United States or because their lives were at risk in their home countries.
  • Legal immigrants and people who were born in the United States are being stereotyped as well and being made to feel as though they don’t belong here, either. People don’t feel safe walking around their neighborhoods anymore, even though America may be the only home they’ve ever known.
  • President Elect Trump has used rhetoric conflating all Hispanic people with Mexicans (Hispanic people come from many different countries) and rapists and drug dealers – and his words have emboldened white nationalists.
  • The number and nature of hate crimes since the election.

What you can do to show solidarity:

  • Fight back against English-only movements. Our country is the richer for its multicultural background and English is in no danger of falling out of use as the standard.
  • Learn about Hispanic history within the context of American history. There are great podcasts about history that are way more fun than you might remember your history classes being.
  • Remember that we are a nation of immigrants. Remember your own family history. When did you get here? How did America change your family’s lives? Have empathy for people who have felt so desperate to get to a safe space.
  • Understand that it’s a privilege to be able to joke about moving to a different country now that Trump is president while we are so hesitant to accept refugees.
  • Learn about cultures different from your own. Go to a Hispanic religious service. Learn a few Spanish phrases. Participate in cultural events.
  • Stand up when you see injustice.
  • Call your officials and ask them to support amnesty and other immigration-friendly policies.
  • Do not push your friends to “give Trump a chance” or to believe that everything will be okay because it’s only 4 years.
  • Report hate crimes when you see them.

Organizations to donate to or volunteer at:

Asian

Why they’re scared:

  • Read Trump’s immigration plan.
  • There have been many stories of racism since the election.
  • There are many groups of political and religious refugees from East and Southeast Asia whose immigration status is either unclear or now in flux due to the next administration. Return to their countries of origin could be dangerous. Some of these folks are undocumented.
  • Many immigrants from Asian countries are here on H-1B visas, which allow skilled foreign workers to work in the US for extended periods and can be a foot in the door for citizenship or permanent residency. With the anti-globalization and nationalist rhetoric of Trump’s campaign, as well as the campaign’s proposal to end, curb, or rewrite this system, people worry about their visas being in danger of being cut short or the program being cut entirely.
  • The idea that foreign workers are stealing American jobs can lead to discrimination, harassment, and employment loss.
  • Due to being seen as “the model minority,” Asian Americans with less privilege than some of their counterparts can be left out of important resources and conversations on a personal and national level. They feel left out of conversations about racism and class, and there’s a sense of not being Asian enough and also not being American enough – being an outsider from all angles. In addition, certain history lessons like Japanese internment camps, the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, “Yellow Peril,” and so on are now being more and more left out of discussion in schools.
  • Asian Americans are underrepresented at almost every level of politics and popular media, leaving them vulnerable to policies and rhetoric that can negatively impact them.
  • Trump’s anti-China rhetoric makes Chinese Americans feel at risk of being harassed simply because of their heritage.
  • Sikhs are often the victims of Islamophobic hate crimes in the US.
  • Asian Americans are also very unlikely to seek mental healthcare; meaning that they’re possibly going through this season without help.

What you can do to show solidarity:

  • Fight back against lowering immigration quotas.
  • Ask your Asian American friends how they’re holding up during this time and give them space to express their feelings. Talk to them about their mental health and ask what you can do to help.
  • Go to an Asian American religious service and meet the community there. Tell them that they are welcome in America and that you are honored to be their neighbor.
  • Do not push your friends to “give Trump a chance” or to believe that everything will be okay because it’s only 4 years.
  • Report hate crimes when you see them.

Organizations to donate to or volunteer at:

Immigrants and refugees

Why they’re scared:

  • Read Trump’s immigration plan. He wants to deport millions of people.
  • Trump’s immigration plans have huge biases against many groups, including Muslims.
  • Many have friends or family members who are now at greater risk of being deported. Many of these undocumented immigrants came because of increased opportunities in the United States or because their lives were at risk in their home countries.
  • Many immigrants no longer feel much connection to their country of origin or may have even been born here, so when someone tells them, “Go back!”, it indicates to them that they belong neither here nor there. It’s a sense of homelessness that’s hard to understand unless you’ve felt it yourself.
  • Trump’s isolationist and “America-first” foreign policy is highly unlikely to be friendly to those seeking refuge.
  • Many immigrants are here on H-1B visas, which allow skilled foreign workers to work in the US for extended periods and can be a foot in the door for citizenship or permanent residency. With the anti-globalization and nationalist rhetoric of Trump’s campaign, as well as the campaign’s proposal to end, curb, or rewrite this system, people worry about their visas being in danger of being cut short or the program being cut entirely.

What you can do to show solidarity:

  • Learn about immigrants benefiting the economy.
  • Learn about what’s going on in Syria and in other countries that people are seeking asylum from.
  • Donate to legal organizations that can file for U-Visas, asylum, and other petitions on behalf of clients. Much of the immigration work cannot be done without attorneys, and many of them don’t have the funds necessary for the number of cases they now have.
  • Remember that we are a nation of immigrants. Remember your own family history. When did you get here? How did America change your family’s lives? Have empathy for people who have felt so desperate to get to a safe place.
  • Understand that it’s a privilege to be able to joke about moving to a different country now that Trump is president while we are so hesitant to accept refugees.
  • Tell your friends who are immigrants and refugees that you are thrilled that they are here in America and that you will do anything you can to help them feel more welcome.
  • Ask your church to get involved in refugee resettlement efforts, remembering that Jesus Himself was a refugee.
  • Sign petitions for your local universities to become sanctuary universities.
  • Do not push your friends to “give Trump a chance” or to believe that everything will be okay because it’s only 4 years.
  • Report hate crimes when you see them.

Organizations to donate to or volunteer at:

  • Oxfam
  • Your area’s local refugee resettlement efforts
  • Amnesty International
  • American Refugee Committee
  • Catholic Charities
  • International Rescue Committee

LGBTQIA folks

Why they’re scared:

  • Mike Pence is well-known for his policies regarding LGBTQIA rights and dignity. While Trump is known for being more friendly with LGBT+ folks, his pick of Mike Pence as his VP and his own flip-flopping on so many issues doesn’t sit well at all with the LGBT+ population. Mike Pence still advocates for conversion therapy; something that is dangerous, ineffective, and damaging to human dignity. He also has proposed to remove funding from HIV/AIDS support, which affects the LGBT+ population disproportionately. The medications for HIV/AIDS are incredibly expensive, meaning that if the Affordable Care Act does get repealed, these folks are at an even greater risk.
  • Many other government officials that President Elect Trump is tapping for his new administration are have expressed or supported views the LGBTQIA community feels put them in danger.
  • Bathroom bills that humiliate and put transgender folks at risk are likely to stay or even increase under the incoming administration. Especially with the focus of small government advocates on states’ rights, this could get out of control.
  • The number and nature of hate crimes since the election.
  • Though the country overwhelmingly supports same-sex marriage, Republicans tend to not, meaning that marriage equality could be at risk. Many of the judges that Trump is considering putting on the Supreme Court would seek to roll that back.
  • Transgender folks getting hormone replacement therapy might not be able to if the Affordable Care Act is rolled back. In addition, they may no longer be able to legally change ID markers like their name. This is humiliating.
  • The number of murders of transgender people each year is high, and with an administration that believes and legislates these opinions about the LGBT+ population, that number could increase dramatically.

What you can do to show solidarity:

  • Tell your LGBT+ friends that they’re not broken. If you’re from a religious background that has told you that queer people’s love interests are indeed broken, please at least find something kind to say, like “You are created in the image of God and God loves you” because that’s true, regardless of what you think.
  • Tell them that they’re not alone and that the LGBT rights movement has had some incredibly strong figures who have come before them. Encourage them to follow some fighters on Twitter and Facebook and to join a local pride club. Listen to their stories and to why they’re scared.
  • Take time to educate yourself about what it means to be queer or have a non-binary gender.
  • Move the public discourse of taking care of queer communities past just gay marriage. It’s so much more than that. Talk about non-discrimination laws not only for sexuality but gender identity. Talk about violence towards people who are queer, especially towards people who are transgender. Talk about stripping away access to healthcare related to the LGBTQIA community. Talk about Mike Pence’s stance on conversion therapy. Talk about access to needed legal avenues for the transgender community as well as healthcare.
  • Avoid phrases like “that’s so gay” and tell others why phrases like that aren’t okay.
  • Especially stand up for kids right now. If you are interested in helping to start online support groups for LGBTQIA+ youth (or know youth who might benefit from these groups), contact Parity.
  • Do not push your friends to “give Trump a chance” or to believe that everything will be okay because it’s only 4 years.
  • Report hate crimes when you see them.

Organizations to donate to or volunteer at:

  • Lambda Legal
  • Planting Peace
  • Trevor Project
  • Transgender Law Center
  • Local pride center and local LGBTQIA youth support programs
  • Local homeless or domestic violence shelters that serve folks of all gender and sexual identities
  • Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Trans Lifeline
  • Help fund trans ID changes

Disabled folks (with physical and/or mental illnesses)

Why they’re scared:

What you can do to show solidarity:

Organizations to donate to or volunteer at:

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)
  • Autism Self Advocacy Network
  • Cancer Research Institute
  • Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation
  • Brain & Behavior Research Foundation
  • American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD)
  • Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF)
  • VOR
  • National Suicide Hotline or Crisis Text Line

Religious minorities (Muslims and Jews)

Muslims

Why they’re scared:

What you can do to show solidarity:

  • Call your officials and tell them that you’re horrified by the Islamophobic language and policies of the new president and his administration.
  • Learn how to say “asalam ‘alaykum,” a statement of peace and greeting.
  • Register as a Muslim if there is a registry eventually.
  • Go to a mosque sometime and meet people.
  • Learn how to intervene in anti-Muslim harassment.
  • Wear a hijab if it becomes illegal in places like Georgia.
  • Host interfaith events at your religious organization.
  • Do not push your friends to “give Trump a chance” or to believe that everything will be okay because it’s only 4 years.
  • Report hate crimes when you see them.

Organizations to donate to or volunteer at:

  • Muslim Advocates
  • Your local Islamic Center
  • Local interfaith organizations

Jews

Why they’re scared:

What you can do to show solidarity:

  • Casual anti-Semitism is a huge problem that often goes uncorrected. From telling people they look Jewish because they have bigger noses or curly hair to claiming that Jews run Hollywood or the world banks, these comments come from a place of misinformation and stereotyping. These comments are often tolerated by non-Jews as truths. If you hear someone saying something like that, call them out, saying “That’s inappropriate.” If you say something anti-Semitic, whether to a Jew or non-Jew and it was totally unintentional, apologize as soon as your realize what you did.
  • Partner with a local synagogue to advocate for the rights of all people.
  • Understand that someone can be pro-Israel but also anti-Semitic.
  • Read about the history of the Holocaust and some of the amazing things that people did to show solidarity then. Ask yourself how we can avoid repeating the past and how we can apply this incredible sense of solidarity to all who are scared right now.
  • Do not push your friends to “give Trump a chance” or to believe that everything will be okay because it’s only 4 years.
  • Report hate crimes when you see them.

Organizations to donate to or volunteer at:

  • Anti-Defamation League (ADL)
  • Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)
  • Hebrew Immigration Aid Society (HIAS)

Part two of this article will address: women (especially survivors of sexual assault and those seeking reproductive healthcare), climate change fighters, and journalists.

 

Emmie Arnold is a follower of Jesus, survivor and thriver, graduate student of divinity at Princeton Theological Seminary, blogger at Illness to Wellness, musician, photographer, traveler, goofball, and optimist.

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