Commentary, Keisa Reynolds
We are only in the third month of the Trump administration, but it already feels like a lifetime. Trump has been president for less than three months and his administration has already risked millions of Americans’ lives in their effort to revise the Affordable Care Act, enacted a Muslim ban (which has been blocked in court) that has fueled further Islamophobia, detained and deported immigrants under the guise of public safety, and rolled back protections for transgender students.
And that is only the tip of the iceberg.
I get overwhelmed when I try to keep up with the latest executive order or the media’s attempts to expose the wrongdoings of the administration. One week, I deactivated my social media accounts and avoided being around people because I couldn’t put myself in the position of having to discuss what was going on. I was starting to feel isolated during a time when having community is crucial.
Trying to navigate a society that is constantly trying to dehumanize vulnerable people, some whom may look like you, is mentally and emotionally exhausting. It can be difficult to stay present during such a tumultuous time, especially if you are someone like myself who already struggles with mental health issues.
So in order to keep moving forward, I started thinking about what I could do to keep my sanity. Here are four tips I came up with that have been working for me.
1. Acknowledge your pain. Many of us are hurting because we are reminded, or learning for the first time, that white supremacy is alive and well and the threat of fascism is very real. You might be someone who has experienced first or secondhand the effects of oppressive policies. Dealing with homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism or racism can break down a person’s spirit. It certainly doesn’t help when the bigotry is validated by your own government. You have every right to feel pain. Ignoring it doesn’t change what has happened. Do yourself a favor and say, “I am hurting and that is OK.”
2. Keep talking. Our voices are worth more than we realize. I know it is easy to believe that isn’t true with the current state of affairs, but I have learned the importance of sharing opinions, facts and stories. Every time I think no one is listening, a person reaches out and shares their appreciation for my articles or posts on social media. Whether it is writing an op-ed in your local newspaper, talking to someone at your bus stop or shouting chants at a protests, your voice is valuable.
3. Take care of the people around you. We won’t change the state of the world in a heartbeat. It is a long, grueling process with a diverse set of tactics and strategies. Your family, friends, neighbors, classmates, co-workers, fellow commuters—these are the people who need you to stick around, who need your help. Do what you can to amplify their voices, concerns and experiences. Take advantage of social media if you don’t live in an area with like-minded people: There are many corners of the internet where people come together to commiserate, strategize, and care for each other despite distance.
4. Keep hope alive. This can be done in whatever way works best for you. For me, it’s seeing people in action trying to push for social change. If possible, go to a demonstration addressing social justice topics. You can find at least one social justice-related event in any major city. I suggest hosting a program if there aren’t any events available or relevant to your interests. This is a great way to build community and motivate yourself to continue learning about social and political issues. Seeing the way people come together to enact change can inspire great hope.
Those are some of my methods for now. How do you try to stay present during the era of Trump? Share your own tips with us on our Facebook page.