Six Days Into a Crumbling U.S.

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It’s only been six days since Trump was sworn in as President. I knew things would start happening, and that it’d be fast, but I couldn’t have imagined how quickly.

Before Inauguration Day, Congress voted on their annual budget, which is normal. However, they re-allocated the ACA budget to miscellaneous. In Trump’s six days of office, he’s signed executive orders to:

  • give power to agency and executive department heads to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the [Affordable Care Act]” while he works on repealing it
  • pull federal funding from women’s affordable healthcare organizations that provide abortions, ignoring the fact that these same organizations also provide cancer treatment and other healthcare to low-income women, men, and teens
  • resume and speed up the Dakota and Keystone Oil pipeline projects, continuing to route them through Standing Rock despite environmental concerns, land treaties, and President Obama’s executive order to halt the DAPL and look for alternative routes
  • pull the U.S. out of the United Nations
  • withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership
  • ban refugees from entering the U.S., begin deportations, give police officers power to act as immigration officers, and block federal funding from sanctuary cities
  • allow torture of political prisoners, which breaks the Geneva Convention
  • begin building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, which Mexico has refused to pay for; I suspect the ACA’s re-allocated funds will be paying for its materials, and political prisoners will be used for slave labor to build it
  • impose a federal hiring freeze
  • put a gag order on federal employees from disclosing information to the public or press (Environmental Protection Agency; departments of Commerce, Health, and Human Services; the Interior; and the Department of Agriculture, which was later lifted after public outcry)
  • initiate an investigation into illegal votes, which can be used as a reason to affect voting in future elections

(Note: I will edit later and link to each EO; I’ve already spent too long at the computer and my joints are extremely sore.)

A President can sign as many executive orders as he wants, bypassing Congress. Congress can pass legislation to override EOs, but the President can veto them.

Trump said in a 2014 Fox interview that he wanted to wreak havoc.

You know what solves it? When the economy crashes, when the country goes to total hell and everything is a disaster. Then you’ll have a [chuckles], you know, you’ll have riots to go back to where we used to be when we were great.

So did Trump’s Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor, Steve Bannon, in a 2013 interview.

“I’m a Leninist,” Bannon proudly proclaimed.

Shocked, I asked him what he meant.

“Lenin,” he answered, “wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal too. I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”

Trump has been leveraging our social, political, and working class issues, instigating the blame of our problems on disabled people, black people, Latinxs, and Muslims. He insists that the ACA is being taken advantage of by lazy people who don’t work. People who rely on the ACA and Medicaid for healthcare are veterans, single parents, people with disabilities, cancer patients, retired people, and low-income families. No statistical evidence suggests that any large percentage of people covered through the ACA are “lazy people.”

Trump blames crime on black and Latinx people, saying that killings in Chicago—largely populated by black and Latinx people—have increased, when they have in fact decreased. Chicago has long been a site for regular Trump protests. Yesterday, Trump threatened to send military into Chicago under the guise of preventing any more murders.

He’s destroying our relationships with other countries’ leaders, which may be irreparable.

Though Trump’s authoritarian regime and collapse of the U.S. has begun, there’s still a lot we can do.

Kendzior also says, via several tweets:

There’s a lot to do. I advise working locally. Know your community. Pick an issue or two you care about and commit for the long haul. And understand that as horrifying as this all is, millions stand with you. Find common ground, stand up for others—and know the enemy.

Senator Markey and Representative Lieu have introduced legislation to prevent Trump from launching a nuclear first strike without a Congressional declaration of war.

Shit is real here in the U.S., my home. Most of the people I know are either completely oblivious, in denial. They don’t see how dire things are. I’ve been following all of this and urging family and friends to pay attention. They won’t. I think, honestly, most of them just can’t believe anything like this can happen. They believe that our Constitution and government will protect us. The Constitution can only protect us if our government upholds it. Right now, our government is fighting amongst themselves. There’s little opposition from the Democrats against the Republicans and Trump’s Cabinet.

This is really happening.

We’re really living this.

It’s not exaggeration or alarmist to say that we’re living in an authoritarian crackdown. It appears that Trump is compromised, by both the Nationalists he’s put into his Cabinet and Putin.

This is really happening.

Alexandra Erin says that even Trump might not understand what he’s doing; he’s being told what to do (click the tweet to read thread).

It’s possible that we mere peons cannot even begin to understand what’s happening to us. We just know that we don’t want it and we don’t deserve it.

I’m at a loss here myself. I read each executive order with growing cynicism and horror. To be honest, I didn’t want to believe Kendzior’s and others’ apocalyptic predictions before and around Election Day. I thought that by urging electors to vote against Trump would be enough, but now it seems that we were fighting the wrong battle. We should’ve been urging our senators and representatives to pass legislation to block all of the things that Trump promised during his campaign, protecting all of the people that Trump is trying to harm.

It might be too late.

I’m not giving up. I’m terrified, to be perfectly honest. With every executive order that I read, I find it harder and harder to focus on anything; writing and working as normal seems pointless in the face of what’s happening. When this has happened in other countries, millions of people died. It seems like a cleansing has begun: women, disabled people, non-white people, queer people, Muslims.

I am three of those groups.

I said that the best resistance is existence, to keep creating art and living in spite of what’s happening. I urged people to donate to the organizations that fight for us. I pulled out an old YA novel that I wrote in 2011 about two lovestruck seventeen-year-olds fighting Nazis and told myself that I should put all of my angry, anxious energy into revising it.

I still believe in fighting for our freedom. I come from a family of veterans and I will never dishonor their sacrifice and memory by giving up those freedoms. I will keep writing. I will send letters to the White House. I will put aside my phone anxiety and call my state Senator and Representative, and ask them to fight. I will start attending town meetings and make my concerns heard.

I will be brave by keeping on, even when I’m scared and overwhelmed. Even when people around me diminish my concerns. Especially then. Too much is at stake.

Resist Trump: Where to Donate

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I thought I’d put together a list of organizations who are fighting for our civil rights here in the States, for those of us who are able to donate.

If you can’t donate, it’s okay! There are other ways to help, like continuing to be the kind person you are. Simply existing is resisting—especially if you’re from one of the marginalized groups who stand to lose a lot. You can keep creating art, volunteer in your community, attend town meetings to have your voice heard, educate people, and speak up when you see or hear something that is wrong.

This list is ever-growing, and is in alphabetical order; each are equally important to me. If you’d like to suggest an organization, please leave a comment and tell us who they are!

Even a $5 donation here and there is helpful; if every one of us did that, we could support these organizations in their fights for us. Please donate now.

  • ACLU is a non-partisan group of lawyers who uphold the Constitution and Americans’ civil and human rights.
  • Black Lives Matter works with local police and communities to improve the lives of all black people, addressing social issues and needs within the black community.
  • Lakota Law Project was originally created to stop state departments from wrongly taking Lakota children out of their homes and placing them into foster care. They’re also dedicated to fighting the Dakota Pipeline.
  • Planned Parenthood provides affordable healthcare for women, men, and teens—including but not limited to cancer screening and treatment, birth control, and family planning.
  • RAINN assists survivors of sexual assault with counseling, emergency care, and crisis support. They also provide education, work to improve sexual assault justice, and fight rape culture.
  • Trans Lifeline and The Trevor Project provide suicide prevention services for LGBTQIA youth and adults.

Looking for other ways to help? Resistance Manual is a fantastic resource put together by DeRay McKesson and others with information on the Trump administration’s and GOP’s proposed policies and agendas, and how to fight them.

You can also donate to organizations right in your own community. To find them, Google search things like “sexual assault nonprofit Connecticut.”

These organizations need your help now more than ever, as their tireless work is putting a huge strain on their resources (and the Trump administration has already begun federally-defunding some of them).

Please comment with any organizations who need our help, and share this list wide.

It’s Okay If You Can’t March

This morning my Instagram feed was full of pics about the upcoming Women’s March on Washington. Well, okay, books too, but the closer we get to the 21st, the more people are getting involved. This makes me incredibly proud, but also a little sad.

These days I’m lucky I can stand long enough to do dishes, never mind march for civil rights.

It doesn’t help that some of the slogans that people are using seem to reach out and pinch those of us who can’t march. I know they aren’t actually for us—they’re for those sitting by in apathy, doing nothing—but it still sucks that I can’t be there.

Still, I realized something.

These marches have historically been people more powerful joining hands with people less powerful to achieve the same goal. Every movement has been about someone stronger lifting up someone less strong—whether in voice, privilege, or ability.

It’s hard for me to let others do for me, when I’d rather do it myself. It’s difficult for me to just sit and watch, rather than participate.

I never thought I’d be sitting on this side of history; when reading about The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom—AKA the civil rights march—as a kid, I always felt this burning passion inside of me. I knew, had I been born decades earlier, I would’ve marched right alongside those women and men. In reality, my body is the opposite of willing and able.

And that’s okay.

It’s also okay if you’re not marching, too.

You don’t have to explain why to anyone.

It’s okay.

In your heart, you know what you stand for. You know what you believe and who you support. And you can resist in other ways.

Keep breathing.

Keep making art.

Keep raising children who love.

Keep posting selfies.

Keep making posters for your town.

Keep denouncing hate.

Keep spreading love, even if in “small” ways.

Keep.

Just keep.

Because when someone hates you—for how you look, who you love, what illnesses you live with—the loudest torch you can carry is to keep living, in spite.

Let your fire blaze bright.


However, if it’s the cost of travel that’s holding you back from marching, there  are many sister marches happening all around the world. I had no idea until I saw a few overseas ones this morning on IG. There are even several in Connecticut, so I might actually be able to go to one, depending on how I feel. Click here to search by your state or country.

Then rise, baby, rise.

Enough Is Enough #BlackLivesMatter

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On the night that Trayvon Martin was shot to death by a white man full of hate, my entire world flipped upside down. Up until that moment, I’d naively believed that racism, for the most part, was a thing of the past. It was only four years ago, but I can still remember where I was when I heard the news. I can still recall the chill that ran down my spine. Gone was the secure world I’d been living in.

That same feeling crashed into me again two summers ago when Michael Brown was fatally shot and killed by another white man. I felt sick to my stomach and completely helpless as the world around me erupted. The #BlackLivesMatter movement began, and with it all of my preconceptions about racial relations here in the States were deconstructed. Late nights on Twitter and long sessions on Google provided me with an entirely new education; I learned about white privilege and how my experience growing up here in the northern state of Connecticut has been extremely different from someone my age growing up in a southern state.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve made a lot of new friends on Twitter—people just like me, with similar dreams and needs, but because of our skin colors, we’ve had vastly different experiences. I’ve never been treated any differently because I happen to have been born white. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to have other people assume I’m dangerous because my skin is dark. I have, however, experienced unkind treatment because I’m a woman, because I’m disabled, because I have a mental illness, and because I’m bisexual. But I’ve never feared for my life because of my skin color.

Though I’ve been loud on social media, doing my best to amplify the #BlackLivesMatter movement and educate others, I’ve still been mostly quiet about all of this. Most of my white family members and friends don’t exactly get it. After all, we grew up in Waterbury, Connecticut—a city with only about a 50% white population. Racial relations here are good. I mean, there are some assholes, but they’re vastly outnumbered. It’s not out of the norm to see an interracial family or to go to the mall and see a diverse group of kids shopping together. Growing up, cliques in my schools were separated by lifestyle and music preference, not skin color. News about racial tension always seemed far away to me.

I’ve also been quiet here on this blog. It’s not usually acceptable for authors to get political. We’re expected to be neutral, to keep our mouths shut and just write our damn books. It’s a big no no, because political issues are naturally very dividing and tender topics. Here’s the thing, though: I don’t see human issues as political issues. Keeping quiet is what got us into this situation. By not talking about these things, we’ve allowed them to continue happening. We’ve allowed a racist, sexist, bigoted man to become the Republican presidential nominee. By not standing up and saying “This is not okay,” we’ve allowed two more slaughters: Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.

The longer we don’t talk about this, the more Freddie Grays, Sandra Blands, and Tamir Rices we’ll have.

Because the truth is, we have a severe racial issue here in the States. Now, I’m not saying police officers deserve to be killed; there are many fantastic men and women who serve and protect. But that’s just it; they’re sworn to serve and protect, not seek and destroy, as my brother-in-law said on Facebook. Police officers are trained to disarm a person suspected of being armed—not to shoot to kill. It is statistically proven that white people have an inherent fear of black people. Those same white people will vehemently deny it, but will be the first to cross the street or avert their eyes when a black man passes them on the sidewalk.

13620720_10154262410674840_1112169846526122814_nPolice have shot and killed at least 136 black people this year. Those are just the ones we know about. That’s not even counting violent racial crimes committed by white civilians. This shit bothers me. It deeply disturbs me. It literally keeps me lying awake at night, my heart pounding because I’m fucking scared. It is a major problem that we cannot afford to ignore. As I said on my personal Facebook yesterday, “I share because I don’t want my black friends or family to be the next ones found hanging or shot dead in front of their families.”

This problem is out of control.

And it will continue to be until we do something about it.

We need to stand up and say NO MORE. This is not a political or black issue. This is a crime against humanity. It is an American problem that will ripple into the rest of the world if it continues unchecked.

Our world is hanging off a precipice right now. Either you can be part of the crowd that shoves it over the edge and into the fire, or you can pull on the rope with the rest of us, trying to yank it back from danger.

Here in the States, we’ve done so much damage to people of color. We’ve pillaged and stolen their land. We’ve traveled overseas, stormed peaceful tribes, and enslaved their people. We’ve segregated and desecrated. We’ve murdered and raped. And then we’ve turned our backs and closed our eyes and ears.

We claim to be a land of the free, but no one is free when we live like this.

We’re still a young country. There’s still time to change. It’s not too late. It’s almost too late, but not yet.

But it starts with opening our eyes, unplugging our ears, and saying “Enough.”

Use Your Voice

  • Join the movement and get involved with Campaign Zero. This is an accountability program started by #BlackLivesMatter activists Deray McKesson and Johnetta Elzie. Johnetta, by the way, was recently featured in O: The Oprah Magazine.
  • Amplify #BlackLivesMatter voices. This is as simple as retweeting and sharing posts on social media, or joining a chapter in your area.
  • Educate yourself. Black people and other people of color have been systemically oppressed in the States for decades. History has been twisted to serve political purposes. The last couple of years have been eye opening for me as I’ve studied black history. This article and this one are great places to start. I also highly recommend watching PBS’s Black Panther Party documentary.
  • Speak up. When your white friends say something damaging or untrue about people of color, correct them. Saying nothing is just as toxic.

Solidarity matters more now than ever. We can no longer afford to remain silent.