Donald Trump's victory left many Americans feeling alienated, disappointed, or even frightened — the latter especially after the Southern Poverty Law Center reported more than 700 "hateful incidences of harassment" in the week following Election Day. Many Americans feel marginalized, unwelcome, or endangered by some of Trump's white supremacist supporters (Trump has disavowed them, though some argue not strongly enough), as well as his possible policy proposal, like a potential Muslim registry. Out of the election, though, came a few signs for hope. Many Americans came together to support and defend marginalized people in the aftermath of the election.
In fact, many activist groups and outlets have begun to circulate ways you can help marginalized people in the months and years to come. Last week, My Civic Workout, a newsletter designed to help new activists learn to get involved, released its first issue. The holiday season always seems to motivate people to do good, and this year in particular, many of us will spend the end of 2016 more eager than ever to make the changes they care about in the world.
Luckily, many Americans have already begun to fight for their and others' civil rights, and they can serve as much-needed sources of inspiration in what are otherwise disturbing times.
This Teacher Empowered Her Students to Push Through
When Philadelphia elementary school teacher Jasmyn Wright saw the election results, she knew she had to be there to support her third-grade students, but her words went viral and inspired thousands more. Wright told BuzzFeed News, "Students brought their concerns about how they felt into the room. It is my job as an educator to help them get through these feelings. So, we did what we always do: we did our cheer." Their cheer is a call-and-response dialogue about resilience in the face of racism and oppression, and its references to civil rights heroes of the past (as well as Barack and Michelle Obama) are a valuable reminder that setbacks cannot stem the ultimate tide of civil rights.
College Students Are Fighting to Protect Their Undocumented Peers
College students throughout the country are petitioning and demonstrating in order to convince their universities to serve as so-called "sanctuary campuses" for undocumented students and workers. The movement is growing quickly: student organizers report efforts at hundreds of colleges across the country to provide safety for illegal immigrants, many of whom were taken to the United States as children.
These protests appear to be working: Columbia University provost John Coatsworth affirmed the university's commitment to undocumented students, announcing that the campus would not admit immigration officials without warrants and that the school would provide increased financial aid to undocumented students who would lose existing federal protections under Donald Trump. Wesleyan University also announced that it would not voluntarily assist with federal attempts to deport its students.
Donations Are Pouring In for Civil Rights Groups
In the immediate aftermath of the election, donations for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has promised to wage a legal battle against many of Trump's proposed policies, saw an increase of 500 percent for its Massachusetts chapter, according to a report in The Boston Globe. Planned Parenthood has received 50,000 donations in the name of Mike Pence, the vice president-elect, in order to protest his opposition to reproductive rights; and LGBT youth support organization The Trevor Project also received nearly $200,000 in donations.
#TransLawHelp Links Transgender Americans with Legal Services
The day after the election, lawyers rallied together on Twitter using #TransLawHelp to offer free legal services assisting transgender Americans with getting name and gender changes on documentation like driver's licenses before Trump is inaugurated as president. The hashtag, which was created by Twitter user @dtwps, is now also a website providing the names of legal professionals who will help with the legal needs of transgender Americans for free. The site also provides funding for document costs via donations.
Hundreds of Baylor Students Stood Together
While walking on her college campus in Waco, Texas, Natasha Nkhama claimed she was shoved by a man who called her the n-word; according to Nkhama, when a fellow student stood up for her, the man said, "I'm just trying to make America great again." In response to the reported incident, hundreds of Baylor students and faculty turned out to walk Nkhama to class in an enormous visual display of campus support. In a Facebook post after the walk, Nkhama wrote, "Today's walk with me was not only for me. It was for anyone who has/does/will or knows someone who has experienced discrimination or oppression."
If you didn't vote for Trump and are outraged or worried by the though of him leading our country, taking an active stance to help others may be the most gratifying way to respond.