Nick Nelson – Alexandria, VA
For many of us, this has been a rough couple of weeks.The election didn’t go the way many of us expected, and even more of us had hoped. The decisions of the electoral college left many in fear, and the actions of some unfortunate folks in this country have left far too many people afraid for their lives and freedom to live as a member of their respective cultures.
As an upper-class, white cis male, I have to admit I’m coming out ahead in the bargain. However, because I was born with a conscience and raised with values, and because no one can ever be judged at face value, I’m terrified.
I have Mexican heritage. I identify as non-binary sexually. I have friends and family who are gay, black, Arab, trans, female and many other oppressed groups Trump and his followers see fit to harass, threaten and attack. I, like many others, want desperately to do more than punch a safety pin through the lapel of a shirt. I want to make sure I’m not just saying I’m an ally. I want to be sure I’m walking the walk.
The question is, how do I do that? How do you do that? Below, I give a few ideas to help. This list is by no means exhaustive, it is not perfect, and it is not final. This will serve only to begin the conversation, and I hope make people think about what they can do for those who feel afraid.
This is a vital step. Many of the people who are afraid post-election hold onto fear because they feel their voices have been taken from them. They are afraid they will be attacked for who they are. Listening is not the only step, but it is an important one. Listen, and make sure you do what you can to avoid silencing the voices of those who feel voiceless.
The holidays can be tense. A lot of us are going to sit around a dinner table at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, etc. and have tense, awkward, uncomfortable conversations with people whose views diverge greatly from our own. We may get angry. We may say things that anger others. What is important to remember, though, is anger shuts people down. Avoid name calling, hostility and blaming as much as possible. The more you try to acknowledge the other viewpoint in a calm, accepting way, the more they may be willing to do the same for you.
Be brave, but be smart.
There are times where sticking up for the least of us will be scary. But strength in numbers can be a powerful tool, and sometimes just the solidarity of a hand to hold, a shoulder to cry on or another body taking a stand can be enough to deter the jerk who feels hate is stronger than love. It is important in these times to remember being an ally — especially as a white male — means doing whatever it takes to speak out and stand up, even it it feels uncomfortable. It’s easy to be mean. It’s harder to take a stand. However, you don’t want to be foolhardy about it either. There are times when it is just downright dangerous to try and swoop in and rescue someone by yourself. Assess the situation. Sometimes it’s just as helpful to call the police or alert someone nearby that something is going on. The key, more than anything, is to not do nothing.
Be optimistic, but be a realist.
I do not want to see anyone be afraid, or hurt or otherwise forced into a position of subjugation. I temper that fear by trying to remain as realistically hopeful as possible. I know the feminist, LGBTQ, non-white and other targeted groups are fighting like hell. I know the people of Moxie — both writers and readers — are joining that fight, and I know I’m not the only white male who wants acceptance for everyone, regardless of race, creed, gender and orientation. There are going to be bad days – days when it feels like the other side is winning. You have to accept those as lost battles, but not lost wars. We are strong, we are determined, and we are coming to the fray not armed with hate, but equipped with love.
As a white male, I am uniquely equipped to tear down the establishment of hate from a safe and elevated position. I implore those like myself to consider the world they wish to live in, and the world they wish to leave for the generation after them.