What I’m Doing To Get My Black Ass Ready For The Next 4 Years

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November 23, 2016

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We are now less than two months away from the ascendency of the Great Orange Hate Clown. To say that it has been weighing on me is an understatement. Words are so inadequate to describe the feelings of fear, dread, sadness, and betrayal I’m feeling as the year draws to a close, that this writer wonders what words really are for. But I cannot just sit at my computer typing “fuck” over and over again; there is work to do.

I know that we will be in for a fight. Not a new fight—I’ve been fighting for years, and so have many other people of color, disabled people, trans people, undocumented people, and our allies. But the fight is going to get so much harder. So right now, while we still have a president who recognizes my humanity, I have to prepare.

Here are some things that I’m doing to get my black ass ready for the next four years of resistance. This is centered on my own personal experience as a black woman, so these tips may not all be helpful for all marginalized populations who are most at risk from this upcoming administration. But nonetheless, I hope it will help some of my brothers and sisters in struggle as we get ready to battle together.

1. I’m going to the doctor. One of the first things I did after election day was make an appointment to see my doctor. I am fortunate enough to have insurance here at The Establishment, and Obamacare was a wonderful safety net if that ever should change in my ever volatile world of freelance writing. But that safety net is in danger, and it puts the health of millions at risk. As someone who lives with chronic illness, and who also avoids the doctor, I realized that if my health took a turn next year, and I didn’t have insurance, it would be disastrous to my family’s finances and may even endanger my life. So, I begrudgingly made an appointment with my doctor to get everything checked out.

Side note: If you are fat (as I am) and you avoid the doctor (as I do), please know that you can tell your doctor that you don’t want to step on the scale and you do not want to discuss weight, unless you are experiencing rapid weight loss or gain. They will often respect this, and if they don’t, please find a new doctor.

2. I’m meeting with my children’s schools. My two boys have been greatly impacted by this election already. They are terrified and hurt, and they are at school trying to figure out what this all means for them. The day after the election I met with administrators at my sons’ schools (high school and elementary) and talked with them. We discussed what they were doing to help kids process all of these emotions that they were bringing to school. We discussed what they were doing to make sure that kids from marginalized populations felt safe in school. We discussed what they were doing to empower students in disempowering times. Hearing their plans, giving my input, and opening that line of communication with my children’s schools has made me much more confident in my children’s ability to get through these upcoming years.

3. I’m strengthening ties with my community of color. We are going to need each other. We are going to need to be each other’s safe space. I’ve been talking more and touching base with my intersectional community of color—both in person and online. We’re providing comfort to each other, but also strengthening the bonds that we’re going to need next year.

4. I’m reaffirming boundaries with allies. I, and many other people of color, have been inundated with requests for emotional, physical, and mental labor from allies who feel particularly lost after these election results. They want to help but just “need you to please tell them exactly what they should be doing to help destroy this system of white supremacy” that they benefit from, own stock in, and maintain. I’m reminding people that if I could remove their boot off my neck I would have, but it’s their foot—whether they want to believe it or not. I’m offering advice en masse when I have the emotional bandwidth, suggesting people do their research when I don’t. My altruistic reserves must go first to those less privileged than myself and that means I need firm boundaries in place with privileged allies. If we’re going to be in this for the long haul, it can’t start with POC doing all of the heavy lifting, because that’s an almost impossible habit to break.

5. I’m identifying programs. I’m doing my research for civil rights groups, legal aid, and activism groups I may need in the future. I’m identifying where the movements are and ways in which I can help. I’m also identifying groups that I will need to support in the upcoming years—immigrant rights groups, transgender aid groups, disability advocacy groups, reproductive justice orgs, legal defense funds, government watchdog groups, and more. I’m realigning and increasing my monthly giving to fit these new needs.

6. I’m prioritizing my mental and physical health. It’s not just about going to the doctor. I’m going to need stability at home in order to fight in the streets. I’m starting up a fitness routine, and I’m buying real food for my fridge. I’m writing this essay from my office and not my bed. I’ve started up my meditation routine again. I’m going to need at least some of this to be habit by January 20th. I keep reminding myself, “I have to outlive this tangerine terror.”

7. I’m making lists. Like this list. Lists are a little bit of empowerment on paper. List what you have, what you need, what you can do. Write it all down and look at it often.

8. I’m seeking out positivity every day. Things are dark right now, and they are about to get darker. It’s so easy to drown in it all. The news stories of reinvigorated hate, the rapid transformation of our government from a racist white boys club to a REALLY racist white boys club, whatever’s going on with Kanye (I’m for real worried about him you guys, let’s check on him, he’s still our people)—it’s too much if that’s all we see. So each day, while I’m also making an effort to stay informed of present and upcoming efforts, I’m also making an effort to seek out those who are doing great work right now, both locally and nationally. We are going to have to be each other’s motivation in the upcoming years. We have to see each other’s light.

So there you have it: what I’m doing to get my black ass ready for the next four years. This list will likely grow and change, but right now, it’s getting me through with some strength and confidence.

We will get through this together.

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  • Ijeoma Oluo

    Ijeoma is the Editor-At-Large of The Establishment. A Seattle-based Writer, Speaker, and Internet Yeller, her work has appeared in The Guardian, The Stranger, New York Magazine, Huffington Post, and more. She was named one of the Most Influential People in Seattle by Seattle Magazine. She's also a columnist at The Seattle Globalist.

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