Thinking & Writing in a Post-Trump World

By Leila A. McNeill

At 1:31 in the early hours of November 10 when the Associated Press tweeted “BREAKING: Donald Trump is elected president of the United States” I collapsed into a fit of uncontrollable sobbing. Between heaves, I squeaked out, “We’re going to lose everything.” I didn’t sleep at all that night, and I watched the sun come up through my living room window while I tried to hide under a quilt on my couch. As I watched Hillary Clinton concede mid-morning, I was consumed by another bout of crying. When she said “I’m sorry,” I didn’t think of her as another woman apologizing because “that’s what women do,” according to the piercing insight of the CNN commentary. I felt like she was apologizing *to me* for the Trump world in which we all now must live.

The days following were a blur. I spent that weekend at a conference where seemingly regular conversation was constantly undercut by mourning, rage, and fear. I rarely slept at night and gave into napping at inconvenient hours during the day. I didn’t write for over a week, and writing is what I need to do to feel like a person.

But work called. I needed to edit the Lady Science anthology and prepare the manuscript. I had two important contract pieces in the pipeline. Despite my desire for the opposite, the sun did keep coming up each day, and I had responsibilities ($$$).

Thinking and writing in a post-Trump world has not been easy.

As a woman and as the child of brown immigrants, I know instinctively that I do not magically live in a different world now than I did on the morning of November 9. But it still feels different. I write about women, gender, and intersectional feminism online, and I at least felt like collectively, with the exception of the trolls threatening to rape me, we were at a place where we could agree that this work needed to happen. Now, we have to work back to that place all over again because that internet troll is going to be our next president.

I’ve become dangerously addicted to my Twitter feed because every day it seems more terrible news comes out about Trump and his transition to the White House. Between the rise of racially driven hate crimes, a Muslim registry, and Trump’s appointment of white nationalists and child labor advocates to his cabinet, I keep saying to myself the same thing I said before, “We’re going to lose everything.”

I’m lucky that I didn't have to dread sharing a Thanksgiving meal with racist, sexist family members. My family and I drank and played games, but the anger still came to the surface about every 10 minutes. At the end of the night, my dad unexpectedly hugged me and tearfully said “I'm sorry.” Returning his hug, I said, “I'm sorry too.” When he turned away, I heard him mutter something about “the 60s,” a time when he committed his entire self to political resistance and social activism. All the conversations, all the nights out in the last few weeks have ended here, with apologies and anger.

When I sit down to write, I can’t help but question the usefulness of what I have to say. I don’t exactly know what revolution is supposed to look like, but it’s probably not me sitting at my desk in fuzzy holiday socks. This isn’t my usual writer’s block where I agonize over which of my darlings to kill. In waves of nausea and what I think may be mini-heart attacks, I remember all the different things we can lose: Roe v. Wade, the freedom to protest, health care, the free press. Then, I think about the terrible things we’ll gain: massive deportation, religious registries, and a three-branch government controlled by a Republican party that has rolled over for an inexperienced pile of hot garbage in an ill-fitting suit. Fuck!

In the weeks, months, years to come, I’ll keep working to recover women’s voices from history to expose the roots of systemic oppression because it’s the thing I know how to do. I’ll keep saying black lives matter and Muslim lives matter and immigrant lives matter and LGBT lives matter, and now I’ll say it louder. I’ll read more Angela Davis and Audre Lorde. I’ll keep donating to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU, and I’ll give my phone anxiety the finger by continuing to call my representatives. I’ll work in any way I can to protect women and reproductive rights. I’ll work to make sure my neighborhood is a sanctuary. Resist.

An orange racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, ableist fascist is our next president. I need to get my shit together and get to work.