By: Paola Aguilar
Coalition work is never easy. It’s difficult and exhausting. This election season there have been many difficult conversations happening. Sexual assault has come to the forefront because our President-elect was accused of sexual assault by a handful of women. Conversations about race and institutional racism have also come to the forefront after incidents of racism have been circulated on social media. We’ve seen the Black Lives Matter movement publicly protesting police brutality and a recent resurgence of the KKK. LGBTQ rights with North Carolina’s HB2 bathroom law. Reproductive rights, the Supreme Court ruling that the TRAP laws in the south are an “undue burden” on a woman’s access to safe and legal abortions.
As a feminist, I have to talk to people about these issues. I have a moral responsibility to tell people the story of my parents immigrating to the United States and their struggles when someone believes an incorrect stereotype about Hispanic immigrants. I have a responsibility to inform the people around me about how dangerous laws like Texas’ HB2 are; not just for women, but for their families. I have a responsibility to remind people how important access to safe and legal abortions is. I have a responsibility to explain that my experience as a Mexican-American woman will never be the same as a white man’s.
When my candidate who championed all of these issues (and who has championed these issues for her entire career in public service) was defeated on election night by a man who has only made these issues worse, I couldn’t help but to have some feeling of hopelessness. I, like so many others, spent time canvassing, phone banking, and talking to people about these issues with the hope that I could make a difference this election season. This sting of defeat is not comparable to anything I’ve ever felt before. My heart hurts for the many who will be affected as a result of the people we have elected to create and enforce the laws in this country. As much as we may be feeling despair, it is so important that now, more than ever, we remember to practice self-care.
Feminist work is exhausting and if we don’t take the time to take care of ourselves, we will render ourselves ineffective. Because we need to be able to continue fighting as hard as we can for issues of social inequality, we need to do it right and practice self-care. Here are a few ways we can do that:
1. Come back to your safe spaces.
When I say safe spaces I mean our communities. I have been blessed to have friends who share my ideas and views on social issues and I find comfort in talking to them about the things that frustrate me about the world. It feels nice to come back and just enjoy the fact that some people share the same ideas as you and that you’re not fighting the good fight alone.
2. Take a social media break.
One of the best ways to do coalition work is via social media but it can be trying on your soul to read about the election over and over again. I’m exhausted and at this point, the election is over so dwelling on the results in an unproductive manner is just not worth it.
3. Take some time for yourself.
Go do something fun and non-political. Take a bath, go for a run, eat some chocolate cake, have a bottle of your favorite wine. Whatever it is that you need to do to refuel yourself.
4. Love still trumps hate.
The majority of Americans voted for a country of unity and equality. Period. While some of us may be in a position of privilege where we don’t worry about our livelihoods after the inauguration, there are some with much heavier burdens on their minds. Now more than ever, love your neighbor and treat everyone the way you’d want to be treated. As angry as we feel, we must show compassion and solidarity to one another because if we’re being honest, we need it to heal.
Take the time to process what has happened and take the time to heal. Even though the inauguration isn’t until January and the fight for social justice has been happening for quite some time; we need you now more than ever. So please, rest now and take care of yourself.