My initial reactions to Tuesday night were, in order, disbelief, anger, and hopelessness. Over the last couple of days I’ve listened, watched, and participated in a number of conversations about moving forward. Earlier today, I posted the following on Facebook:
We’ve come to the point where it’s about “survival” for 99% of us, but we 99% are divided about what survival requires. Those divisions are fueled by decades of residential segregation, fear-mongering, and economic exploitation. Trump’s middle-America voters who are hoping for that Carrier plant to stay open? They’re going to be angry and disappointed. Others whose bigotry has been emboldened threaten those of us whose skin color, religion, or relationships offend them, making it really fucking hard for us to talk to those who are mostly just worried about that Carrier plant. Many of us across the political spectrum stand to lose health care, access to education, and jobs. The 1% that remains in charge no matter who wins elections has the rest of us right where they need us.
That seemed to resonate with a lot of people, and it got me thinking about the small things we can do to contribute to the building of a future that truly sustains many more of us. I’m thinking about how our social media bubbles insulate us and harm us. I’m thinking about how our communities feel vindicated or threatened. I’m thinking about the fear-mongering and about the very real dangers many of us are facing. I’m thinking about how desperately we need to be able to talk across difference and about how hard that is when we feel more and more polarized and threatened. The threats are real and yet the polarization is greater than it needs to be. In my classrooms I work with students who are often for the first time interacting with a diverse group of peers. Facilitating conversation, even being present in conversation, when the underlying inequalities are so deep and yet often rendered invisible, is a challenge. That is a challenge many of us need to take up.
This morning over breakfast I read three pieces that helped me think about the complexities we face in trying to talk about this election and all that it touches. I want to share them, just as three possible levers to use in moving conversations about the future.
The first was a news article from The New York Times, “Can Trump Save Their Jobs? They’re Counting On It,” written by Nelson D. Schwartz, asking what will happen if Donald Trump can’t save the Carrier manufacturing plant in Indiana that he used as a central figure in his campaign speeches.
The second was a more personal piece with the title “What a Gay, Muslim, Pakistani-American Immigrant Learned Traveling to Rural Alaska the Week Before the Election,” written by Riaz Patel, and published on GlennBeck.com. Patel talks about the people he met while traveling across the United States, including a trip to Alaska, meeting and getting to know – and getting known by – exactly the kinds of white working class voters that have been so central to discussions about the 2016 election.
The third was an open letter from Our100.org, a coalition of leaders who are women of color and who are committed to continuing the work of organizing for social justice. They recognize that it is often the work of women, and often of women of color, queer women, immigrant women that pushes the nation to do the right thing, focus on on solutions and breaking down the politics of hate.
I’m sharing these three pieces because they come from very different sources and because they identify some of the ways that survival is at stake for so many of us.
I’m thinking of all of the small things we can each do to contribute to one another’s survival. One thing I commit to doing is to sharing three articles a week that were meaningful to me as I think about the issues we have to face. This campaign didn’t create the issues. Instead, the issues created the conditions for the campaigns we watched and the election outcome we’ve all just witnessed.
Here’s one small thing I’m going to do. I’m going to start a weekly email newsletter – just a very small thing – that will share three articles I’ve read recently that helped me think about and talk about these issues with people who don’t immediately share my perspective. I’ll include a brief summary (no more than what I’ve included above), that explains what prompted me to share the article. I might include a couple of questions that the articles prompted me to ask. And maybe a cat picture or some small bit of humor.
If you’d like to receive such a thing, SUBSCRIBE HERE.
“Lets Talk” conversation bubble image is by Ron Mader on Flickr and used under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike generic license.