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How I'm Staying Empowered After the Election

How I'm Staying Empowered After the Election

In light of the recent election results, many people, myself included, have been finding it difficult to remain hopeful and positive when the fate of our country seems uncertain. With a future that hangs in the balance, it is becoming easier and easier to give up hope. But there are some things I’ve found that help me stay empowered and not lose hope. Here's how you, too, can use your power and privilege for the greater good.

Peaceful protesting
Ever since the election results, cities all over the country have had peaceful protests. The point of these rallies is not to impeach Trump or remove him from power, which is frankly unrealistic. The purpose is to stand in solidarity with a group of like-minded people, and to show your support of the marginalized groups that are most affected by this election. By peacefully protesting, you are making a statement—you’re showing that you won’t stand for any racist, sexist, homophobic or xenophobic action that Trump might take in the next four years.

The protests shouldn’t stop after the election shock dies down. The night after the election, I went out and protested in downtown Portland, where I live. It started as a group of about 25 people out on the steps of the courthouse, then quickly expanded into hundreds of people chanting in the square. Finally, thousands of us were peacefully walking all around downtown, across the bridges, and even on the freeway. It was incredibly powerful to hear people chanting things like “Women’s rights are human rights.” Even though we were all protesting a hateful man’s rise to power, there was an amazing sense of kinship and community. It comforted me a little to know that there were so many people committed to change for a better future.

Support immigrant-owned businesses
If protesting isn’t quite your thing, you can always make action with your everyday choices. With Trump’s xenophobic anti-immigrant comments and plans of deportation, advocating for the little, locally owned immigrant businesses is a way to show your support and solidarity. Last weekend my friend and I went out to eat, and instead of going to any of our normal restaurants, we decided to go to the food carts so we could support them. It was delicious, of course, but we also felt good about where our money was going.  

Help businesses that donate to crucial organizations
Many businesses post-election are doing their part to aid organizations such as the ACLU or Planned Parenthood, which could be defunded or compromised during Trump’s presidency. Last weekend Grace Micelli, an artist who I follow on Instagram, was donating all the proceeds from her online store to Planned Parenthood, so I picked up some of her stickers. I also attended Frances May, an independent clothing brand’s warehouse sale, where 10% of the proceeds went to the ACLU.

Be there for your marginalized friends
Anyone who may be feeling unsafe in the days following the election needs your support more than anything. You can help out in small ways like giving a hug; or in larger, more tangible ways like walking them home if they feel targeted, taking them to different organizations to get the resources they need or providing them a safe space where they feel they can be heard and respected. At my college, a lot of people were feeling shocked and distressed in the days following the results, and so my school set up several safe spaces for people to process and connect with others post-election. You don’t have to wait for them to ask these things of you; you can always be checking in to see if they need anything and to make sure they’re doing OK.

While times may seem bleak and dismal right now, it is important to keep a sense of community and be around people you love and respect. Take care of yourself, take care of others, and most of all stay safe. We can get through this.

By Sarah Isenberg, 18

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