The election of Donald Trump for president has unearthed a whole spectrum of reactions. While some people are triumphant, many of us are frustrated, sad, angry, and exhausted – including me. Trump’s future policies are likely to be disastrous for climate justice, immigrants, people of color, LBGT people, religious minorities, poor people, and disabled people. Even though Trump hasn’t taken office yet, there have been numerous reports of people emboldened by his rhetoric who are targeting and harassing vulnerable people.
But as Valarie Kaur wrote after the Charleston shooting, “Today we mourn, tomorrow we organize.” Now, it’s metaphorically, if not literally, tomorrow. It’s time to pick ourselves up and take action.
While it can be very hard to find time, energy and money to spare as a parent, here are some constructive things that we can do in response:
Organize on national issues.
We’re stronger together than by ourselves. Unfortunately, typical protests and other activist activities are not very child-friendly. However, there are an increasing number of organizations that recognize that parents want to make a better future for their kids and provide accommodations.
- Climate Parents – which has just been folded into the Sierra Club – advocates for climate friendly, clean energy policies.
- Moms Clean Air Force tackles climate change and air pollution from a public health perspective.
- Moms Rising pushes for expanding paid family leave, reducing childcare costs, improving gun safety, improving education, and other issues that have significant impacts on families with children.
In particular, Moms Rising hosts kid-friendly events that are a cross between play dates and protests. If you want to get involved in a local group but can’t find the time, ask if anyone would be willing to provide childcare during meetings. It’s likely that you aren’t the only parent who wants to participate!
Advocating for national policy when both the President and Congress are against it can feel like banging your head against a wall. It’s likely most action, especially in terms of labor, LGBT, and environmental issues, will be on the local level in the next few years. Here’s some ways to get locally involved:
- See if your city/county council has any advisory committees that provide formal input. I participate in my town’s bicycle advisory committee and we also have ones for human rights issues and environmental issues. Similarly, find out if there are any advocacy groups that apply pressure to local politicians.
- Join your local Sierra Club chapter. They often have letter writing campaigns and events to influence local policies.
- Find regional organizations that provide support for low-income families and vulnerable women, like diaper banks, shelters, and job skills organizations. Poor women, especially those who have been abused, those of color, and those who are LGBT are most likely to be hurt as a result of sexism and policies that reduce protections.
- Join or start a community garden to strengthen local ties and take power back from the corporations that control so much of our food supply.
Get the organizations you’re already a part of involved
Not everything requires joining something new. Some of the most powerful actions involve harnessing the resources we already have. If you’re part of a Boy or Girl Scout troop, a church, or any other organization that can have a service component, you can get them involved.
Have a speaker come talk about climate change, refugees, or poverty in your community. Have your group to do a service project for one of the groups of people that may be the most affected, such as a food drive, a diaper drive, a casserole drive (where everyone makes a casserole for a soup kitchen’s lunch or dinner program), a fundraising activity, or a volunteer night at a homeless program (especially for LGBT youth, who are exceptionally high-risk).
For example, one week my church invited a speaker from the U.N. Refugee Agency. Then, during our typical “art/service activity time” after communion, we put together school supply/art packages for refugee children who had recently moved to our area. If you want to do a similar project, see if there’s a chapter of the International Rescue Committee near you.
Teach your children
One of the most powerful things we can do is raise a generation of compassionate, empathetic kids who listen to people different from them. The best way to do this is to model that in our own lives. But it’s also essential to talk to them about racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia in age-appropriate terms.
Books that showcase a diversity of characters are great for both having children see the world from a different perspective as well as introduce challenging topics. These kids books celebrate diverse historical figures beyond the white dudes that are usually covered in such literature. Books on this list and this list involve characters of color, many of whom are just going about their business in life. (Some of our favorites on that front are The Snowy Day and Ten Nine Eight.) These books are about building empathy and interacting with children who are different from them.
But we’ve got to go beyond just assuming books will have these conversations for us. Black Girl Dangerous has a good run-down of anti-racist principles to teach kids. Aha Parenting has a breakdown of good ages to talk about police brutality and racism that can also be applied to other traumatic events involving prejudice. Blogger Danielle Slaughter is running a Raising an Advocate online course about understanding and combating privilege as a fundamental part of parenting.
Perhaps the most important thing we can do is foster relationships between our children and a diverse spectrum of people. We’re lucky in that both our neighborhood and church have people from very different walks of life from us.
Reach out to the people you know – and extend your reach to those you don’t yet
It’s likely you know someone who could be negatively affected by the policies of a Trump presidency or prejudice emboldened by his election. Personally, I have friends and family who are minorities, are of Jewish descent, are trans, could lose vital health insurance coverage, and have been harassed express serious concern. They are far from the only ones.
Reach out to your friends and family who are part of vulnerable groups and let them know that you will stand with and for them. Write it on social media. Email, call, or text them. Give them hugs (if they want them). Encourage them to get self-care they need.
And then there are plenty of people we don’t know yet but need someone to stand by them too. Wear symbols that let people know you can be trusted to help – I’ll Go With You pins to protect trans people, safety pins, or Black Lives Matter buttons. If you are going to wear these pins, know what the stakes and risks are. Consider what you are able and willing to do, especially when you have your children with you. Read this strategy on how to help someone being harassed in public.
While the least exciting or personally revolutionary thing you can do, groups that are actively working to help vulnerable people do need money. These organizations could all use your support right now:
- Southern Poverty Law Center
- American Civil Liberties Union
- U.N. Refugee Agency
- National Center for Transgender Equality, Trans Lifeline
- The Anti-Defamation League
- Border Angels (for immigrants)
- Center for Reproductive Rights
- Planned Parenthood
- Council on Islamic-American Relations
- National Immigration Law Center
I’ve previously written about how I’ve addressed my own internal racism and raising a peacemaker. This is a huge list of suggestions, but I’d love to hear more. How are you pushing back against hate and prejudice?