I wrote in early November of the steps needed to safely vote. I asked if you had a plan. I encouraged you to extend planning for your physical safety and mental health. Now, two weeks after the election, the high level of traumatic fatigue remains…and the more news I consume the more I find I’m exhausted in every dimension—emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually.
Communal strategy is the method by which we’ve collectively survived trauma and stress throughout history.“
So for myself and the folks in the back who may have missed it, let me remind us to pay attention to our safety and mental equilibrium in this season.
Threat of physical harm: If you saw the Million MAGA march coverage—I hope you have recovered. Side Note: I’ll discuss how this tool of liberation was mimicked and rebranded by agents of anti-Blackness in a future post. If you’ve been avoiding the news and filled your life with joy instead (I endorse and celebrate this), let me share some quick highlights. There were not a million people. There were however communist flags, unregistered firearms, riots of violence, and destruction of property. There were not police officers in riot gear. They did not use rubber bullets (although people were armed), or tear gas on the protesters. This group gathered not just to send a message about their candidate, but when met with dissenting opinion, intimidation and violence erupted – not dissimilar to the attack on the Biden-Harris campaign bus in Austin.
Continued psychological harm: Trump’s actions in court are not simply a grasp at fleeting power. They are an intentional and direct attack on voters, especially Black (women) voters, indigenous voters, urban voters, and young voters who turned out in record numbers to empower democracy and save themselves from continued psychological harm by naming an alternative to the current administration’s fraudulent corruption. White supremacist culture thrives on holding power and leader-worship, along with nuanced justification of the abuse of power in order to maintain power. Such tactics are classic forms of racist narcissism and delusion, and capable of inflicting enormous harm.
Similar tactics employed during the raced-based terror of the Jim Crow era illustrate an enlightening precedent. Psychological and biological science show measurable impacts of how intimidation, fear mongering, and violence work together to generate and perpetuate higher rates of disease, fragile mental health, and premature death for people of color. Both public health and medicine disciplines have declared racism a public health crisis.
So what can you do about it? Prepare a civic engagement and equity economic plan (this too is a future post.) For now, I advocate sustaining (or creating) your physical and mental health safety plans.
Physical Safety Plan: While no one ought to lean into fear, all of us should note the documented history of America in perpetuating, corroborating, and endorsing white-supremacist terrorism. Take all you see in this season – Trump’s legal action, the call from his son and supporters to “total war”, and more – as a sign of what is possible. Have a location in mind where you can physically relocate if you do not feel safe and inform those you care about where you’ll be in a crisis. Here is some valuable guidance on things to consider.
Mental Safety Plan: On top of the national and racial stressors, we now approach the holidays weighing the cost and risks of traveling and gathering with family during a global pandemic. Here are some curated supports, gatherings, and healing spaces that may add benefit for you. Additionally, reduce your consumption of the news. Engage in activities that give you joy. Don’t judge yourself for the anxiety you experience in your body and the coping behaviors you employ. (Remember, under stress Jesus sweated blood. When I’m stressed, I eat popcorn). Lean into your community. Share your anxiety and stress with trusted ones – and share your plans to maintain health and safety. Call, zoom, pray with, share a meal, and laugh about life together.
Communal strategy is the method by which we’ve collectively survived trauma and stress throughout history. It remains the very best way to navigate this season as well.