"This is a nightmare." That was the only thought running through my head as I watched the results of the election roll in, as any hope ebbed away with each flash of red. I saw the faces of everyone around me fall as reality set in, our journalistic objectivity long forgotten as our eyes teared up, as our voices broke.
I went to sleep that night numb and woke up hoping that it was truly just a terrible dream. I cried. I cried for women, for people of color, for members of the LGBTQ community, for the marginalized, for minorities, and for so, so many more. I cried for my country, the place I was born and raised, the place I'm supposed to be proud to call home. I called my mom and cried some more. I yelled until I had no voice left to yell, I took a day of self care and I let myself feel everything I needed to feel, and I tried not to guilt-trip myself for being spending one day being completely useless and wallowing in the pain for what I genuinely believe is a global tragedy.
My one-day free pass is over, and I'm done crying now. People always say what doesn't kill makes us stronger, and we are all going to be strong as hell after the next few years. We have to remember to stay angry, to stay aware, to stay informed, and to never, ever stop fighting for the America and world that we believe in. Yes, that world has been altered, but we can make it a better place. We have the power to make positive change, beyond from merely casting a vote. If you're at a loss for what comes next, here are some things you can do to have an impact starting now. We've got work to do.
1. Donate to organizations that protect and support human rights.
Give your money to research organizations that work to protect the rights of women, members of the LGBTQ community, immigrants, minorities, Muslims, and the climate. (Note: This is certainly not a comprehensive list of groups you can help, just a handful of those that have been directly targeted by Trump). The American Civil Liberties Union is a great place to start; it has already been vocal about the election on the ACLU site, urging Donald Trump to "reconsider and change course on certain campaign promises" including his plan to "amass a deportation force to remove 11 million undocumented immigrants; ban the entry of Muslims into our country and aggressively surveil them; punish women for accessing abortion; reauthorize waterboarding and other forms of torture; and change our nation's libel laws and restrict freedom of expression."
Planned Parenthood has promised that "these doors stay open" in light of Trump's promise to defund the health care organization that has been instrumental in offering women's health care, LGBTQ care, sex education, and contraception; working to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections; and providing of reliable and safe care to diverse communities nationwide. You can donate here.
American citizens have the right to peacefully protest. Let your voice be heard by assembling with others who share the same goals and connect with those who have a plan of action to help protect the rights of fellow Americans. If you are worried about your safety, or do not have any local gatherings in your area, you can constructively protest on social media or look into getting involved in causes that you can connect with online.
3. Stay informed on the issues.
Now more than ever is a time to get informed about national and global issues, especially those pertaining to human rights and international policies. Stay sharp and know your rights and the rights of fellow American citizens. Don't let anything get past you. Knowing the law and understanding policies can help us all be more prepared and equipped when and if we need to take action.
In addition to donating money to important causes, now is the perfect time to get even more involved with human rights organizations. Take time out of your day, your week, your month — or your next four years — to make a difference. Volunteer Match is a site that allows you to put in your location and choose the type of organization you wish to work with. (For instance, you can filter "Advocacy and Human Rights" organizations to show options near you!)
5. Don't become complacent.
Maybe your day-to-day life won't change that much. Some people will not have that luxury. Stay focused on making a positive change by keeping the conversation going. The ramifications of this election have already been immediate in many ways, but it's hard to say exactly what will happen next, and how much of what Donald Trump promised will actually come to pass. Organize a group of people to meet consistently to discuss the issues and come up with even more timely ways to get involved. Staying vigilant is essential to the well being of the country and the world.
6. Support each other.
Be an ally to women, people of color, immigrants, Muslims, the LGBTQ community, and other minorities. Stand up for your fellow American citizens. Silence can be just as dangerous to marginalized people as blatant racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, etc. Don't be quiet. Speak up for yourselves, for others, and for what is right. Combat what is wrong.
7. Practice self care.
Things are scary right now. While it's important help others, it's also essential that you are taking care of your own needs. Take a mental health day if you need one. Talk to a therapist or to loved ones about your worries and show yourself the same kind of love you work so hard to show others.
8. Be kind, stay strong.
For every cruel, racist, bigoted, sexist, ableist, harmful word spouted carelessly, say a kind one instead. We're going to need a hell of a lot of love to combat so much hate, so spread it everywhere you can to make up for wherever it may be lacking. The more we work to love each other, the more we can tip the scale in the right direction. Show love, exude love, be love incarnate. Keep your head up, stay strong, and fight on for what's right.