For almost five years, Legendary Women, Inc. has tried to stay non-political and even-handed. We had legitimate reasons for doing so. We were trying to get a 501c3 designation and part of qualifying for that type of status and potential funding was a duty to stay more neutral in tone and not take on massive amounts of advocacy. I don’t think it was a secret where most of our staff were leaning, but things have changed since last Tuesday.
If you were like me, then the election results hit you like a shot through the heart. I do want to lay my cards out on the table. While I have conditions that Obamacare would have provided for once I went off COBRA and the thought of living without insurance or being unable to find any to support me despite some preexisting conditions, I do understand that as a cis, white woman raised in a Christian household (although I’m an atheist) that I am far safer than so many others out there.
NPR and USA Today have both covered the over three hundred verifiable hate crimes that have happened just since the election results were announced. Why We’re Afraid does its best to follow and verify harassment and hate crime occurrences as does the New York Daily News Journalist, Shaun King, and author Jim C. Hines. The terrifying incidents that have happened in just the last week feel, frankly, like a warm up as Trump hasn’t been sworn in yet. People have died, including at least two trans teens who committed suicideand a Saudi student who was beaten to death.
Yet the media let’s people insist that these incidents aren’t happening or that it’s no different than any other presidential election year when one side feels let down from losing and from the imminent transition. But this is, as comedian John Oliver says, “Is not normal.” Nor should we normalize any of this. Ever since Tuesday, November 8th, we’ve heard that we just need to “give Trump a chance” and “see how it works out.”
By Sunday night, he’d announced that he was going to make Steve Bannon, the head of Breitbart News and someone with ties to and a history of supporting white supremacy, his chief policy advisor. Shaun King has a brilliant piece about how this is wrong on so many levels and how dangerous Bannon is. Again, this isn’t normal. As Seth Meyers implied last night, the chance is over already. Similarly, earlier this week, it’s been suspected that anti-Muslim extremist Frank Gaffney may also be advising the Trump transition team.
These are things we know. We know that violence has been stoked by President-Elect Trump for months and now it’s erupting into hate crimes in every part of the country. We know that he’s creating a cabinet that will contain advisors who do not have the best interest of the majority Americans at heart and will also be trying to insist upon an anti-Semitic, racist bigot as his chief policy maker.
We know that, going forward, there won’t be much politically to resist him as the House, the Senate and soon the Supreme Court will be all under his control, especially with whatever appointment he chooses to replace Antonin Scalia. Things are going to be tough for a very long time, and as Bernie Sanders points out, that’s not even the scariest part of all of this. Despite everything, there’s also evidence that the dismantling of the Voting Rights Act three years ago and voter suppression played a huge part in handing Donald Trump the Electoral College win. There’s a risk that there will be a bigger push for “dark money” in politics, more laws beyond Citizen’s United, and the risk of even more extreme voter suppression strategies. All of these efforts could make elections even harder to win going forward after 2016.
So what do we do?
First of all, we at Legendary Women, Inc. are going to expand our content. We’re going to keep you up with important public policy issues coming up, connect you with groups you can donate and volunteer for, and help profile individuals who need support as the step out there and become legendary women working against the system we have in place now. We’ll continue to profile fictional women, have reviews, and hosts contests, but we’re also turning our eyes to keeping you informed on everything you need to know to keep fighting for your rights.
Second, we need to get active. It’s one thing to wear a safety pin, and I know there’s a debate on that and if it’s helpful at all, and to also sign online petitions. But those need to be just the start. There have been articles with great ideas about how to help from Huffington Post more than once. Similarly, the John Oliver segment I linked to earlier has a great set of ideas from where to start. We’ll break some down for you here.
1. Donate your money and time.
There are a plethora of organizations that will need your help to carry on the fight right now. If you’re worried about Women’s Rights/Women’s Reproductive Rights, then there’s Planned Parenthood. If you’re worried about racial justice and defending people against hate crimes or loss of civil liberties, there’s the ACLU, The Southern Poverty Law Center, and the NAACP. If you’re concerned about LGBTQ+ rights you can donate to The Trevor Project, The Sylvia Rivera Law Project and the Transgender Law Center. You may also want to donate to Propublica, a group that sponsors non-partisan investigative journalism. If you’re also interested in working against anti-religious bigotry, especially in light of possible registries for foreign-born individuals from (most likely) predominantly Muslim nations, then you can also help support CAIR and, additionally, the work of the Anti-Defamation League. There are other great organizations to donate to and, if you can, that will also need volunteers and boots on the ground as the various policies of President-Elect Trump are unveiled.
2. Attend Anti-Trump Marches and Protests.
I’m not saying this because it will sway the Electoral College and faithless voters. I’m definitely not saying it because it’s a way to “whine” or “be a crybaby” or whatever other frustrating and derogatory names have been applied to the mostly peaceful protests. No, this is about presence. It’s important that the nation, Trump, and marginalized people all see that it was not a runaway majority for this election and that there are people who are against the hate and bigotry that have been promoted so far and who will continue to be vigilant in large numbers over the next four years, especially at midterm elections. Here is a list of marches and protests going on through next week. Please find one and lend support. This needs to be an ongoing set of demonstrations and not something that fizzles out fast. Also, if you’re local to Maryland, there will be a protest next Monday the 21st in Annapolis.
If you don’t see one in your immediate area, then organize one.
3. Contact your representatives and let them know how you feel.
Online petitions are easy to ignore. Emails can be deleted or sent to spam. If you want to really be a presence, then you have to write physical mail, call and talk politely to a representative in Congressmen and Senators’ offices, and you can even go to local city and state government meetings. Alexandra Kingwrote a great break down for CNN from her perspective of having worked in a congressional office what is the most pressing to them and which types of communication they can’t ignore (hint outside of visiting in person it’s the phone). My mother worked for the governor of Maryland twice as an administrative assistant and it’s the same way. Calls have to be answered and noted down by someone and even physical mail makes a very tangible and real presence in an office. It shows you are invested and hundreds or thousands of others took the time and mailed something as well.
Calls are the best. Be polite, be straight forward with your message, but call if you can. Here is a list of how to contact your senator and here’s how to contact your congressperson. If you don’t know what to say, there are scripts here and here you can read from/incorporate into your calls.
Again, since we’re incorporated in Maryland. I’d like to also point out that Senator Ben Cardin, Senator-Elect Chris Van Hollen and Representative Steny Hoyer have all already voiced their dissent over Steve Bannon. Please do call them as well if you’re in Maryland to thank them for doing this.
I don’t mean in four years in 2020, either. I mean in 2018. The map is much harder for the Democratic Party in 2018 and they’ll have 25 senate seats they need to hold onto up for re-election bids. Samantha Bee did a great segment on how costly the 2010 election was, how it was the most important election you didn’t vote in as the midterm elections have notoriously low turn-out. That was also the election the Tea Party gained traction and started enacting the voter suppression laws that have helped (along with a lot of racism and other factors) give us the Trump presidency. Get out there in two years and both help campaign and volunteer for the candidates you want and vote for them.
5. Send Some Mail and Make Some Calls in a Directed Way
Samantha Bee pointed out on her show last night, the Paul Ryan seemed to be unaware of the amount of hate crimes and harassment out there since the election. She and her staff are mailing to his office address the verified incidents they can collect. I think it’s a great idea, but I think it can go deeper than that. Speaker Ryan wants to seriously curb Medicare and repeal Obamacare. He also doesn’t seem to understand why women so badly need and use birth control. Taking a page from the Periods for Pence group (now the Periods for Politicians), we encourage all our readers to call Speaker Ryan’s office and mail about any fears you have and any incidents of hate you’ve witnessed. We also encourage you to go further with #callsforpauland call or snail mail him messages about why you need your birth control and/or access to affordable medical care. It will make him and his staff at least think more carefully when their office is covered in a snow of piles of envelopes.
Here is the speaker’s address for his office in D.C.:
Here is the constituent phone-line:
(Again, consider calling as it’s the most direct way to remind the speaker’s office about the hate crimes happening out there, the fact that Bannon can’t stay on Trump’s team and that there’s a reason you need both medical insurance and birth control)
Here is the fax number for Speaker Ryan’s Office in D.C.:
Also, a moment of disclosure. In the primary, I was a Bernie supporter, but I donated toward Hillary Clinton in the general and I voted for her (of course). It’s important to note that she was the first woman from a major political party to run for president. She’s the first woman to win the popular vote for president (and by close to two million votes), and she did so much to break down that glass ceiling for all of us, even if it didn’t crack all the way. She wasn’t a perfect candidate, but she’s an accomplished woman and the pantsuit nation full of nasty women will miss her. If you’d like to send her a letter of thanks, this is how you can:
Hillary Clinton Post Office Box 5256 New York, NY 10185–5256
6. Let Yourself Grieve
While I agree we all have to come together, care for and protect the most vulnerable among us, and fight like Hell, we all have to do it on our own time frame. The grief really does hit in waves, as John Oliver pointed out. So take time for self-care and when it’s time, join the fight. Mashable has a great piece on the best way to take care of yourself in this trying time.
But when you’re ready, know that Legendary Women, Inc. is here too and we’ll be helping people mobilize, keeping people informed of public policy changes, and helping unite people with charities and activists who need their support throughout the fight. As (the much better) President Bill Pullman said in Independence Day, “We will not go quietly into the night!”