First, I rallied. I condemned the hateful rhetoric and then I fell into resistance in the dawn of the Trump Administration. I defended my friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors when faced with opposition and hatred. Though I feared for my community- I was not silenced.
That is why I voted against Donald Trump. That is why I use my voice to uplift those who are vulnerable- women, youth, Muslims, immigrants, refugees, families, students, veterans, LGBT+, people of color, and those who face disability or disease. Even though we did not win the election, we still won the hearts and minds of a generation that will not stop or surrender.
We will not retreat! We will resist!
Now, I am not alone.
When I decided to march, I made a promise to defend the liberties of the American people- a global population that is comprised of various cultures and backgrounds. I made a promise to defend the environment. I made a promise to defend YOU.
Yes. It’s time to mobilize and so many of us already have been. Black Lives Matter activists, educational activists of all backgrounds, and human rights/environmental advocates have been fighting for so long, but many are just awakening to these battles.
We must remember the revolutionaries before us who paved the way- Women’s Suffrage, The Civil Rights Movement, El Movimiento, and others-all important causes that greatly impacted the quality of our lives.
Now that the threat of the Trump Administration is a reality, we must come together to send a message of hope, empowerment, and unity to those who are at risk. We must advance as a people united- not divided.
Seven concepts to keep in mind:
Resist alternative facts. Pursue knowledge and truth. The Trump Administration is attempting to gag and shame scientists, analysts, researchers, nonprofits, national parks, personalities, celebrities, and media outlets that challenge him. Even though we rely on these individuals and organizations for information, there is an attempt to skew data, censor experts, journalists, and professionals, and discredit/defund the arts, science, and history! How is this happening? I don’t know, but we must remain skeptical of our government to ensure that justice prevails. They will be held accountable for their missteps, and we certainly will keep the receipts!
Resist the gaslighting and manipulation. Embrace education and
research. We must be vigilant and watchful. Filter out the nonsense and distractions. Diversify your resources! Don’t just read one news source or blog, read dozens. Unsure about a certain topic? Check out a book from your local library. Read testimonies. Watch documentaries and interviews. Information isn’t always accessible to everyone and many may find some policies difficult to comprehend, but start somewhere. At the very least, inform yourself of the issues that are important to you. What is currently at stake? What is happening locally? Where can you contribute? Participation in the political process does not end with voting, protesting, or marching. That is just the beginning.
Resist hatred, violence, and separation. Stand up for one another. Right now, the world could use more empathy and unity. Even though peace is constantly disrupted by wars, greed, and corruption, we must still lead with compassion, integrity, and love. At times you may be frustrated, but turn that frustration into action. If you are afraid, reach out. If you need a break, rest.
Some will attempt to tear you down and some may even let you down. In fact, feminists, activists, advocates, students, and educators are criticized all the time. Even when we devote our lives to social justice, we receive a lot of traction from the people we are trying to help. It’s all part of the territory. Some days will be harder than others, but keep the words of Michelle Obama in mind: “When they go low, we go high!”
Resist division. Champion your community. Change begins with you and me. Here and now. Find the time to volunteer and participate in local organizations that contribute to positive efforts. Help those who are in need. Listen to the voices of those who are oppressed or targeted by the Trump Administration. Anytime you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation that challenges your beliefs or perspective, ask yourself why. Are you reluctant because of that person’s differences? Have you ever experienced what they are going through? Are you harboring resentment? Do you feel saddened, angered, guilty, sympathy, or remorse? Can you talk to them about it or is it best to change the subject? You may not always agree with the philosophy of someone else. You may not always understand. Disagreement at times is necessary, and in many ways can lead to progress, but the least we can do is practice disagreement with dignity.
But don’t be mistaken- nobody has the right to make you feel inferior because of your gender, race, education, occupation, zip code, nationality, ethnicity, or background.
Resist the pressure to assimilate and conform. Be your radical and unapologetic self. You don’t have to accept the state of our country or world. You don’t have to accept the harmful tactics of The Trump Administration. You don’t have to excuse the behaviors, and actions of those who fail to acknowledge your humanity. You don’t have to explain either.
Resist the lie that you are not valuable. You are. You are deserving and worthy of better. Any concerns or fears that you have are valid. Practice self care during this time. You are a fighter and warrior, but sometimes it’s okay to take a breather. If that means unplugging, do so. If that means going out on the town to explore, do so. If that means snuggling your furry friend, do so. Fill yourself with the people, places, and things that keep you feeling alive and well.
Resist apathy and cynicism. Demand better and do better. Don’t harden your heart to the experiences and narratives of others. Don’t be fooled by the negativity or give in to the toxicity. We need your bravery. We need your sincerity. We need your love. We need your hope. We need your dreams. We need your contributions. We need your actions. We need your attention.
We need you.
If at any point we stop believing in one another, we all lose. Why?
Because we are all part of a multicultural family. We are raising children or have been raised by guardians who deserve better. Hate is not normal. Not in the infrastructures of our society and certainly not in our communities. Love is the only way to heal. That love stems from self-love and revolutionary love. At no point should we rationalize the questionable rhetoric and policies that have been brought forth, instead we should hold the perpetrators accountable.
At this point, it is not okay to be content. Don’t accept these failings as the status quo. The United States of America is young, spoiled, and stubborn. But the people who inhabit it are capable of growing out of those reckless and self-destructive ways. Millions have already awakened to the truth, long before I or you have arrived on this planet, but as more is brought to light, one thing is for sure:
This is just the beginning. Let’s not give up. Democracy is ours.
Denise Nichole Andrews MFA
Read more of Denise’s words on: Twitter
(An earlier edit of this article originally appeared on denisenicholeandrews.com)