Although we did not want to believe it was possible, Trump was elected. We are angry, frightened and heartbroken. The terrain has shifted, and the reality is we already knew our work was cut out for us.
Of the people who voted, the majority of white people voted for Trump, regardless of age, income, educational level or gender. They were not deterred by his white supremacist, Islamophobic, and misogynist promises, and many white people were galvanized by his bigotry and violence.
So, for white people committed to racial justice, what lies ahead?
We must immediately up our game, and get ready to stand alongside, behind, and when requested, as a buffer in front of people of color, immigrants, Indigenous peoples, Muslims, queer and trans people, and women to help defend communities against what is coming from both the State and the non-state white supremacist forces that have been mainstreamed and emboldened.
For the longer term, the question ahead is not just how to protect and build our movements in this new landscape. The question is also: How will we relate to the white people and white communities that elected Trump? How do we counter the freshly encouraged right-wing white supremacists who have long been organizing and recruiting in poor white communities, places the Left has traditionally neglected?
There are no easy answers and the road ahead will be hard. But we need to be asking each other questions, talking with each other, and we need to be moving. We need to be looking to the wisdom of people and communities, inside the United States and internationally, who have been dealing with, and surviving, this kind of political reality and violence for generations.
Here are some initial steps to take:
Learn about where communities in your region have already been organizing against deportation and detention, islamophobia and imperialism, policing and imprisonment. Where are people organizing for indigenous sovereignty and Black self-determination?
Learn about where are people organizing white people, especially poor and working class white people who are also harmed deeply by our economic system, for anti-racist progressive ends.
Assess what resources, if any, you have to give to the grassroots organizations from #1 & #2 above. What money? What volunteer time? What else? If you’re already giving, can you give more?
If you do social justice work in an organization, assess where you are centering racial justice in your work, and where you can up your game to fight white supremacy. All issues in this country relate to white supremacy, and if we aren’t working actively against it, we’re acting with it. Catalyst does trainings and organizational support on this for majority white organizations. Get in touch at email@example.com or fill out a training request here.
Talk to the white people in your life who supported Trump. Practice your organizing skills. Think about engaging with them in a way that helps them move towards the left over time.
Where have you been leaning away from people you have connections to that have access to money, who you could be leaning toward, bringing along with you, and asking for money to support anti-racist grassroots work?
If you are already doing these things personally, consider joining an organization at this time. We need to be moving collectively, not just individually, wherever possible. We also need our organizations to be connected and in coalition.
Read and sign on to https://our100.org/ this pledge to support Women of Color Leadership in this time.
Today and yesterday, thousands of High School students walked out of school and marched in the streets chanting “Not My President.” Cities across the country had huge protests. Trump has already picked his terrifying transition team and is recruiting his cabinet. Things are moving and there is no time to waste.
With love, rage, and commitment,
Rahula Janowski and Isaac Lev Smonko
on behalf of Catalyst Project