Blog, Commentary, Social Issues

Be Neville Longbottom

Donald Trump is President-elect of the United States of America.

This was a shock, but it was also not a surprise. It is always a mistake to underestimate the depth of bigotry.

I have spent most of the day staring off into nothing. I have not gone more than half an hour without tearing up or outright crying. I am already sick and tired of reading postmortems but I cannot stop clicking them like a hamster on speed, looking for something that could have saved you, could have saved us. I am angry at everybody. I am angry at everything. I want to tear shit up and burn things down. I want to disappear.

I am also incredibly, overwhelmingly privileged that I can afford the space to grieve. Millions of marginalized people woke up this morning and did not have the option to call in sick to a job whose stability is not guaranteed, surrounded by colleagues and customers who do not believe in their humanity. Fifty-nine million people in your country cast a vote for a political mandate that wants to see you eradicated from America, and you have to go to work because bills still have to be paid, mouths still have to be fed, children still have to be clothed. Even in grief we are unequal.

There has only been one consistent thought cutting through the haze today, coming back in my head over and over:

This cannot be the end of the story.

So tomorrow, we work.

I have shied away from many uncomfortable conversations, not wanting to be a bitch, not wanting to make a fuss, not wanting to stir the pot, preferring to just block and walk away silently. I am, against all my convictions, a people-pleaser. That has to stop. Every time I make a decision about whether to keep the peace, or whether to call a spade a spade, I must think: Donald Trump is president. What cost am I willing to pay today to prevent that or worse from happening again tomorrow?

We must remember that fascism does not recognize national borders. Now, in our globalized interconnected age, more than ever, the transnational virality of ideas cannot be ignored. Canada’s history is grounded in colonialism and racist violence, and we are not immune to its allure, as Kellie Leitch has so willingly demonstrated. Canada has advocates for rolling back reproductive rights. Canada ignored the missing and murdered indigenous women for decades. Canada did not apologize to the victims of residential schools until 2008. 61% of Canadians think immigrants are not doing enough to assimilate. There are voices on Canadian national media blaming immigrants for being exclusionary, and they enjoy tremendous popular support.

Change has to start locally, both because that’s where you do the most good, and because you cannot save the world. So I pledge to get involved in local politics. There is so much inequality, in Vancouver, in all of Canada, and we cannot afford to let the decisions fall to those who would divide us. Join me. Call your MP. Learn about the land you’re occupying. Go to City Hall.

I cannot overstate the impact this election outcome will have on information security and freedom of the press. I am still thinking through it all, still reading experts, trying to understand. But for now, remember: America has unprecedented levels of surveillance power against its citizens, and has just elected a dictatorial authoritarian egomaniac. The vast majority of the digital services we use on a daily basis can identify us to a person by browser fingerprint and tracking, and they all have servers in America, subject to subpoena. Your data, privacy, and by extent your person is at risk. I will write more about this when I understand it better. Be vigilant.

I have also set up recurring (where possible) donations to the following organizations who are doing good work to advance civil rights, and they will need to do a lot more of it in the coming years. I encourage you to do the same. Pick one; pick them all. Every little bit helps.

Amnesty International Canada
Vancouver Black Lives Matter
Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights
Planned Parenthood
American Civil Liberties Union
Southern Poverty Law Center
Showing Up For Racial Justice
Trans Lifeline
Campaign Zero
Electronic Frontier Foundation

If you need love, if you need help, if you need to talk, if you want more resources: I am here. I am willing. I am angry.

And finally, we must protect ourselves. I plan on taking martial arts classes. I plan on being more intentional about my self-care. Whatever self-care looks like for you, do it, because we need you. We must ensure that we are here to do the work, that as many of us will survive and thrive as possible. History has always been two steps forward, one step back. We have to be present and ready to take the next steps forward when the time comes.

I don’t know if I’m being naive. I don’t know if there’s any point to this work. I have to say that the thought of causing other people pain is a sustaining thought against self-harm. But there simply is no option other than to fight. We have to fight, even if we will never be quite okay again. The alternative is giving up on the world ever being better, believing that this is the end of this story. And that, we cannot do.

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