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January 18, 2017


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How to Resist a Trump Presidency

January 18, 2017


I sat on the couch with my partner and one of my mothers as we decided to watch the documentary United in Anger: A History of ACT UP. It was a normal Winter break evening spent gathered as a family to watch movies, eat snacks, and cuddle under blankets to fend off the cold Wisconsin weather. These moments of downtime between semesters usually help calm me down from the stress of school and re-charge surrounded by loved ones. This year felt different. Heavy feelings of uneasiness, disappointment, anger, and fear sparked by the presidential election crept into every moment together. While my whiteness will likely protect me from the brunt of Trump’s damage, it’s hard to carry on normally when you fear for the safety of friends, loved ones, and your own family. As we started the documentary, my mother laughed and said, “We need to watch this to prepare for the resistance.” We all chuckled nervously. It felt too true.

After Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, many LGBTQ+ people have been left in a space of unease. We expect the worst but are unsure how the worst will come to attack us this time. As we watched the documentary about the AIDS crisis of the 80s and 90s, my mother spoke to us about how she got through some of the darkest moments she could remember. As a lesbian who watched her friends die of AIDS with less than a word of condolence from our government, she learned important lessons about the need for communities to come together and protect each other. As January 20th nears, we must think through how we can plan for the worst and be ready to protect those most vulnerable.

What can LGBTQ+ people do to resist a Trump presidency? Even further, what can white LGBTQ+ people like me and my family do to resist a Trump presidency and show up for all who will be under attack?
This is by no means an exhaustive list. But here are a few ideas for how to put our fear and anger into concrete action.

1. Support immigrants

Undocumented immigrants in this country have long faced extreme anti-immigrant sentiment and xenophobia. We must shift the narratives we use to talk about immigrants to recognize their humanity and right to travel across borders. The deportation of undocumented immigrants has been at a record high under the Obama administration. Trump threatens to deport even more and vilify any non-white person seeking to enter the country. Be on the look out for ways to support immigrants who are in deportation proceedings. Follow the #Not1More Deportation campaign to learn about cases that need support and how you can advocate for more just immigration policy. You can also access crucial resources on how to stay safe as an immigrant under a Trump presidency and support immigrant communities by following United We Dream, the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the nation. While you keep an eye out for deportation cases in need of support and follow the work of immigrant-led organizations, be ready to step in if you witness anti-immigrant hate speech or crimes.

2. Support Black Lives Matter movements

Police will feel more emboldened to target black people in the coming years, racism will bubble to the surface of many institutions which once tried to hide it, and individuals will act in racist ways with the explicit approval of the person holding the most power in the country. Black Lives Matter advocates doing the important work of building a movement for racial justice will be targeted and painted as villains. We all must stand by Black Lives Matter advocates and join the work. Check out the Movement for Black Lives to see what you can do at. White folks looking to use their privilege to dismantle white supremacy can find particularly useful resources and groups to join with the organization Showing Up for Racial Justice.

3. Take action when you see folks under attack

Trump legitimizes hate and racism in terrifying ways. This country can already be so dangerous for folks of color - black folks in particular - immigrants, Muslims, trans and gender non-conforming folks, and people with disabilities. I’ve heard lots of fear from people who are already at risk for facing violence who know that the intensity will only rise over the next four years. If you are someone with the privilege of feeling safe around police and others who are likely to act out in violent ways, take action when you see folks under attack. Make a plan for what to do if you see someone become the target of violence on the street. A good strategy is often to try and diffuse the situation, make your presence known to the person acting violently, and focus on the person being targeted to get them to safety.

4. Balance survival vs. advocacy

As people who hold some marginalized identities and will be targeted by violence and policy change, it is crucial that we do advocacy in a way that is safe for us. Think through what actions you can take to have the biggest impact, and then make a plan for how to act safely. We often need to engage in advocacy for our own survival. But be mindful of the risks you’re willing to take in this work.

5. Use your power and resources for good

Do you have a position of power at your job? Advocate for your workplace to do what it can to support folks! Do you have wealth you could share with those who will be in need? Donate! Do you have knowledge you could pass around? Share it! Are you able to march and raise your voice? Take to the streets and shout! Are you an artist? Elevate the stories Trump will try and silence! We all have access to different forms of power. Make a list of the resources you have and how you can utilize them in advocacy and community protection.

6. Center community care and hold your loved ones close

Lord knows the Trump administration isn’t going to look out for our well being. So this is a chance to build our capacity to take care of ourselves. As comprehensive health care comes under attack and basic services become more and more inaccessible, we will need to support efforts to build community resources and alternative ways of caring for each other. Connect with folks to share meals and make sure none of your loved ones go hungry, ask folks with health knowledge to teach you and your friends how to stay healthy, open your home to those who need shelter, and make an effort to surround yourself with the people who help you feel loved and grounded. These relationships will get us through the next four years.

These ideas are not unique to me. I’ve learned most of them through conversations with friends and family. Let’s keep talking with each other to plan for the coming years. Together we have the power to protect each other.


This post was written by Point Scholar Emily Ptak-Pressman.

Emily is studying Gender & Ethnic Studies at Sarah Lawrence College. As an undergraduate student, Emily plans to study the way art can be used as a tool for social change. Read more about Emily here.

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