Survival Guide (2)

Never mind my survival guide right now—what you ought to do is look at my friend and colleague Phil Nel’s

Surviving Trumpism. Restoring Democracy.

Phil is focused, direct, and fierce. The above post quickly gets past “the reasons Trump won,” without recrimination or finger-pointing, and concentrates on what to do now, and how. I will keep this post bookmarked in the months, even years, ahead.

Also, teachers, journalists, writers, editors, and translators may find the following from Electric Lit helpful (I do):

Let’s Get to Work: Practical Ways for Writers and Teachers to Get Involved Right Now

Now, back to work.




Survival Guide (1)

I started wearing one yesterday.

Three genres of political punditry have dominated my reading these past few days.

One is simply the oh-no-we-are-doomed genre: an inevitable and necessary expression of grief and terror, mixed with dire prophecy. I would like to be able to dismiss this genre, but it is too compelling and too real at the moment.

Another is the what-went-wrong-Dems? genre, which from my POV offers a cocktail of toxic, recriminatory finger-pointing, brutal HRC and DNC-bashing, and my-left-is-lefter-than-your-left self-righteousness. Again, I would like to be able to able to dismiss this genre, but mixed into that cocktail are also important points and a potential path toward self-understanding. The case made against Democratic Party neoliberalism and Clinton-era centrism is, I believe, too strong to ignore. As much as I resent, say, Thomas Frank calling HRC a mere party hack, the larger point about the Dems losing because they neglected the call for economic justice is, again, just too real to brush aside. (I may come back to this genre here, or at least provide a link list of examples. Not today, though.)

The third genre, and the one I’ve been happiest to share, is articles that offer progressives some concrete alternatives to grief and anger, in the form of lists of organizations and causes to support. These have helped focus me and lift my spirits, and I share two of them here:

Slate on channeling anxiety into action:

Jezebel on pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-environment, and anti-bigotry causes:

My thanks to friends and colleagues for sharing these with me via Facebook. Consider this the first post in an ongoing survival guide.

Oh, and one more thing: support the ACLU!

Photo by Julia Wick for LAist

Love Madly

My friend, Cesar Soto, one of CSUN’s finest graduates and now a teacher-scholar the University of Notre Dame, wrote a wonderful message on Facebook yesterday, one that moved me so much that I asked him if I could reprint it here. He has kindly agreed. Thank you, Cesar, for this:

After sleeping poorly on election night, I went to my job, which involves working with students. I met each one individually, and we shared our mutual shock, weariness, and sadness. And then we got to work. Each student’s project eerily resonated with the dark moment we are living through. Somehow, the election results added greater significance to the content of each student’s essays. Most of the projects dealt with crossing physical and metaphorical borders, while also revealing a sustained commitment to helping underrepresented students. A cosmic convergence of the personal and the political — set against the election results and the divisive, hateful rhetoric that has set the tone since the start of campaign season and that is spreading like a contagion post-election.

Then it hit me. We have to love hard. If you come from a community targeted by that diseased rhetoric, love yourself in spite of it (and epically). Love others that look like you and those from other target communities. And love lavishly, insanely, as if your love barometer broke because of how much love overflows from your heart. And always save a place at the table for our allies, give them a warm embrace. Love them unabashedly, too. Like it or not, we will need them, and they us, in the coming four years. Love is a resource the government cannot regulate or take.

And cry it all out. It hurts. Your fears are legitimate. This is a tragic time. But turn to others and let them love you, hold you, tell you that you will be ok. ‘Cause you will.

Nah, they can never take this ability to care for one another, to love like fools. Be a spy for the love revolution, a subversive love agent against state-supported discourses of hate, a love shield for the vulnerable, an enabler of transfusions of love and care.

Love madly. I have need of your love and care too.

— Cesar Soto


Checking in:

I’m in a dark place today. It’s hard to be angry, grieving, and frightened at the same time. To hold onto hope in such a place is harder still.

To hold all those feelings in balance when you’re physically wretched — I mean sick, literally, as I am this morning — feels just about impossible. I have a lot of work to do today, and I’m not looking forward to it. There is a roiling black cloud over my shoulder, and I see mostly darkness. As I said, a hard place.

Meanwhile, anti-Trumpism protests continue around the country. That makes me glad. It’s not like me to embrace a slogan like #NotMyPresident, because I respect the office and the electoral process, with all its flaws. It’s hard for me to take a stance that questions or negates the accustomed process; as a traditionalist and moderate, I believe in the rule of law, peaceful transitions of power, all that. But in this case… I think I’m going to have to learn some new tricks.

So: #NotMyPresident.

Here are two fierce, almost apocalyptic editorials that may help explain why I see so much darkness and why I’m moved to depart from my usual moderate stances. One is by David Remnick for The New Yorker:

The other is by Clara Jeffery for Mother Jones:

That’s all I got today. I’ve got to go to work.

Deportation Policy as Terror Weapon

My wife and I are both teachers, she in K-12, me at University. Today each of us, at our respective jobs, got emails from administration advising us of students and community members in distress. In particular, students from immigrant communities who may be (or whose family members may be) undocumented are expressing uncertainty, terror, trauma. Anecdotally, I can say that a number of my colleagues (both locally and nationally) have reported spending class time today helping students express and deal with their distress. Tearful, frightened students in some cases.

At my school, the office of University Counseling Services has scheduled special counseling hours and is in the process of setting up other emergency services. This has become a public health issue for us; concern about the emotional well-being of our undocumented students and other community members has become part of the atmosphere. Already. It’s all we can do to help respond to this climate of terror.

People are being hurt by this in my workplace, before my very eyes.

The Trump campaign has promised to work on mass deportation of undocumented immigrants as early as its first 100 days, and Donald Trump has envisioned deporting as many as 2 million people. He has also threatened to pull federal funding from Sanctuary Cities such as L.A.

This is domestic terrorism.

This Is My Country

This is my country.

I am dismayed by the results of yesterday’s election. The US Senate and House will remain under the control of a party that has earned mistrust, and the Presidency will go to a person whom I neither trust nor respect, one who appears grossly unqualified and who will test my resolve to respect the office even when I disapprove of the person in it. United conservative rule in Washington will deliver a blow to what I had believed (and still believe) to be a rising tide of progressive feeling in our country. I had hoped that we as a nation were moving toward a new consensus on key social issues: not easily, of course, and not automatically, but decisively. I had, and have, real hopes, fueled by the young people whom I see almost daily in my work. Now my hopes are a bit muted, my fears are louder, and my particular American dream has been bruised.

Also, it appears that a majority of voters in my state have chosen to execute people faster rather than repeal the death penalty. This should be a source of shame for California, despite the many progressive measures that CA voters did pass yesterday. I don’t feel as happy about living here as I did yesterday morning.

But this is my country. 

This election has hurt the way no other election I’ve voted in has hurt, because I’ve allowed myself, or learned, to care more than I ever have before. It felt personal, in a draining, nerve-rattling way. It divided my family and tore at my heart. I’ve been voting for 32 years, and no Presidential race, certainly no Presidential outcome, has affected me this way, not even the suspect Bush v. Gore election of 2000.

When I came out of class last night and began following election results online, I was shocked and shaken. I’m still shaking. Our whole household was in arms, and frankly afraid, last night: we yelled; we cursed; we hugged each other. I didn’t get a lot of sleep.

I had had at least three different Presidential campaigns running in my head: one for Hillary Clinton, one for the prospect of electing the first woman President in our history, and one emphatically against Trump and the GOP. These didn’t turn out as hoped. And my Facebook feed last night was a downed power line of sparking anger, disgust, and terror: a sign that many of my friends and colleagues have also been hurt and have also had their nerves rattled.

But this is my country.

I had assumed (with more hope than realism, I now see) that a clear majority of voters would prefer expertise over bluster and would realize the danger of empowering a party dominated by unrelenting partisans who want government to fail, not to work. I had assumed that progressive candidates and issues would have not just a fighting chance but a fair one, going forward. I had hoped that a Clinton presidency would help consolidate the gains of the Obama years and restore balance and sanity to a political process now marked by vicious Othering and hate-mongering. I had hoped for all these things. I was caught by surprise.

But this is my country.

We now live in a country that to me feels less like home, and more dangerous. We are now getting ready to usher into the most powerful office in the land someone without the experience or comportment to do the job well. We are now set to transition from a gifted President with a deep understanding of constitutional law to one who appears to understand the office hardly at all: and he will come into office under full sail, with gusting Congressional Republicans behind him. I hate to be a prophet of doom, but I believe we are in for the whirlwind.

But…this is my country. It is my country, and ours, and I am not “moving” anywhere. I am not going to any other place. Nor am I surrendering my voice. I am not acquiescing to the ugly isms that gave the Trump campaign its fateful margin: nativism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, racism, white supremacy, misogyny, homophobia, unchecked rapacity, contempt for government, contempt for learning and for education, contempt for science and for environmentalism, gun mania, jingoism, saber-rattling, parochialism, willed ignorance, hate: the whole toxic blend of so-called values that gave Trump and Pence their edge. I am not surrendering my country to that brutal vision.

If this election felt more personal, and hurt more, that’s partly because I’ve been learning: taking on new ideas, getting to know new communities and positions, and enlarging the compass of what I care about. Over these past few years, I’ve been learning more and more about what it will take to achieve justice and inclusiveness in our society, what it will take to live out the potential of the American idea, what it would really mean to have an America worthy of the name. I’ve learned to question my privileges; I’ve learned about and struggled with the limitations of my own philosophy of classical liberalism and individualism. I’ve changed. I’ve learned some new things, and I’m going to keep on doing that.

This is my country, and I’m going to act like it is. I’m going to engage, lend support, and fight. I’m not going to give in to incipient fascism and cultural degradation. Nose to the grindstone and shoulder to the wheel, people — because this is our country, land of dreams, of radical promise for tomorrow. I aim to see this country thrive, and live out its promise.

#ProgressiveFuture #AmericaForAll #KeepPushing