Along with the shock and devastation of the election results (and the subsequent acts of hate ricocheting across the US), there’s a feeling of powerlessness, especially for American expats. We’re so far away, what can we do?
We Americans in France are in a unique position as we watch the same kind of bigotry (disguised as populism) play out in French politics. While I can’t find it in myself to reach out to Americans who voted for a known bigot, I plan on talking to as many French people as I can to get their views on Brexit, Trump and Le Pen—and implore them to embrace openness. As an Asian-American woman who’s watched things go horribly awry back home, I want to talk to my French neighbors and understand where they’re coming from. I’m fortunate to have a home in the countryside, where my French neighbors aren’t Parisian or big city folk. I’m pretty sure I’m the only Asian person they know so I’m going to use that to start a discussion about multiculturalism while also respectfully receiving a different point of view.
Onwards. Here are 5 suggestions on how to channel our feels into doing good and moving the needle of progress ever forward.
1. Talk To Our Kids
Many children were as surprised as their parents to learn the “bad man” won. We need to be honest about what happened, even if it’s in the simplest terms, because our kids are witness to our struggles accepting this election. However you choose to talk about the election results, now (more than ever) is the time to open our children’s hearts and minds to kindness, empathy, and doing what’s right. Modeling that behavior is paramount, but we can talk to even young kids about racism, sexism and other forms of prejudice. Studies show the ages of 5 to 8 are a critical time before attitudes become more fixed.
As a woman of color and a mother to multiethnic children, I believe it’s vitally important to have these discussions with all children—especially white children. (The reason I say especially is because people of color don’t have the luxury of ever ignoring or forgetting their race.) If kids are taught “not to see race” by making it the thing-that-shall-not-be-named, we continue a cycle of ignorance, shame and complacency—because of a misplaced sense of decorum (polite people doesn’t discuss race!) You can be sure your children are picking up many ideas and social cues about race, gender, religion without even knowing it, so be their guide.
Here are 5 tips on talking to your kids about race. Here are fantastic books for kids of all ages to young adults to adults to help us all understand and discuss race better. From there, start knocking down the other -isms—this book list is a wonderful place to start—and leave no prejudiced stone unturned. Hey, no one said raising kids was easy, but our future and theirs is at stake.
2. Peacefully, Loudly, Bravely Protest
One of the things we can never do is allow this vile expression of bigotry and intolerance be normalized. Racism is not normal. Grabbing people by the genitals is not normal. Hating someone for their skin color, their god, who they love is not normal. So get out there and protest, whether it’s at a big rally, it’s on social media or it’s an uncomfortable conversation with a loved one. Call or write your congressmen and women and urge your Stateside friends and family to do the same.
Here in Paris, hundreds of people are gathering together to protest this Saturday. Please join us! We’ll be there, raising our voices against everything this dumpster fire represents.
Paris Against Trump Protest
Saturday, November 19
Place Joffre, 75007 Paris
1pm to 4pm
3. Open Our Wallets
Put your money where your mouth is. As we worry about how a Drumpf presidency with a Republican Congress may trample all over our rights, especially those of the most vulnerable (women, POC, immigrants, LGBTQ, the disabled, Muslims, the CLIMATE), we can help shore up their coffers for the fight ahead. If by some miracle there isn’t a fight? Our donations will help the people who are directly helping this planet and the people on it.
The ACLU: For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.
The American Immigration Council: The American Immigration Council (‘Council’), established in 1987, works to strengthen America by honoring our immigrant history and shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration.
Black Lives Matter: An affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund (DREDF): A national civil rights law and policy center devoted to advancing the rights of people with disabilities through advocacy, training, education, and public policy.
EarthJustice: The largest nonprofit environmental law organization in the country, working to protect wildlife, for healthy communities, and for cleaner energy options. The organization represents its clients free of charge.
Emily’s List: We ignite change by getting pro-choice Democratic women elected to office.
Everytown: Everytown is a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities.
The Future Project: Young people everywhere should have opportunity to discover their potential and build the skills they need to change their lives and world. We exist to make that dream a reality, and we’re starting in American high schools.
HIAS: HIAS stands for a world in which refugees find welcome, safety, and freedom.
It Gets Better Project: The It Gets Better Project’s mission is to communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better, and to create and inspire the changes needed to make it better for them.
KIND: KIND staff and our pro bono attorney partners at law firms, corporations, and law schools nationwide represent unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children in their deportation proceedings. Together, we ensure that no child stands in court alone.
The NAACP: The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.
NARAL Pro-Choice America: NARAL was founded before Roe v. Wade, before legal abortion was even possible in the United States. We as an organization and as a progressive movement exist to fight for the dignity and equality of all Americans. We hold the line—in good times and in bad—to defend the freedoms that are enshrined in our constitution and that define what it means to be American.
National Center for Transgender Equality: The National Center for Transgender Equality is the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization winning life-saving change for transgender people.
Planned Parenthood: Planned Parenthood delivers vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide.
RAINN: RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.
Running Start: Eedicated to educating young women and girls about the importance of politics, through the Young Women’s Political Leadership Program and various other fellowships and internships.
She Should Run: A non-profit that aims to get more women into elected leadership roles.
Sierra Club: The largest grassroots environmental organization in the county, and works to protect millions of acres of wilderness and pass legislation like the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act.
The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights: Works to protect the best interests of children who come to the U.S. on their own.
4. Take Care Of Ourselves
Women are notorious for taking care of everyone but ourselves. This election season was brutal and triggering for most of us. The aftermath is worse as we process our shock, grief, sadness and hurt. So be kind to yourself! Treat yo self! Whatever makes you happy, do it. The laundry (dinner, dishes, kids’ homework, Facebook) can wait.
Some suggestions: Yoga, meditation, long walks or runs, massage, chocolate, champagne (it’s time to break out that bottle of bubbly you were saving for the first female POTUS—fuck it), sex, chilling with friends, watching your favorite sitcom, sleep.
And though I’m not doing this myself, STEP AWAY FROM THE INTERNET. Especially as expats, we feel a need to constantly be connected to see what’s going on back home but our time is better spent talking to people face-to-face; getting inspired by art, music, food, nature; reading a delicious book.
Promise me you’ll do at least one kind, selfish thing just for you this week. Ideally, it’s once a day but who are we kidding? We run the world (no matter what the Electoral College says).
5. Say Thank You
One of the things that really hurts is imagining, even for a moment, what Hillary is going through. This is a woman who devoted most of her life to public service, women, children and she was torn to shreds over every iota of her personal and professional life. She WON the popular vote. She was above-and-beyond qualified for the job. Despite what so many men tried to tell us, she was a symbol and light for tens of millions and we loved and were rabid for her.
I am crushed. Nearly everyone I know is crushed. But it must be a fraction of what she’s feeling. I’m sending Hillary a gorgeous card from Paris to thank her from the bottom of my heart.
Hillary For America
P.O. Box 5256
New York, NY
How are you feeling post-election and how are you taking care of yourself? Let us know here or on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. And please do sign up for our newsletter to keep up-to-date with the best of Paris.