I had been feeling a little queasy for a couple of days, and asked Cesar to stop by Rite Aid to grab a pregnancy test, just to rule it out. My mother was in NYC covering the US Marillion tour, my sister in France, my brother down in LA, and it was just us in the house. I had been out with the girls earlier that day, pushing the stroller past the Trump signs in people's gardens, the months of trepidation reaching a certain tipping point. I remember not being able to eat, but trying to remain positive. He couldn't win...
It was Tuesday November 8th 2016. Two hours after I peed on a stick and found out to our utter surprise that I was pregnant with our third child, I also realised that Donald Trump was going to be elected president of the United States. I had put the girls to bed and gone to clean my teeth around 9pm, refreshing my phone while I did so. I remember staring at the screen and feeling this utter despair rising through my stomach: he was really going to win. I told Cesar and he said "well, we knew it was going to happen, didn't we?!" Technically I had known it; we had been talking about it for months. But I had too much hope in my heart to actually believe it would really happen.
During the first few weeks of Trump’s presidency I wrote a lot: about going to the Women's March, International Women's Day, Day Without Immigrants, women's reproduction rights, the decline of our environment, ramblings on my own personal fears... Months before the election I had posted a series of immigration stories, including my own as well as other people's, some anonymous others not – in hindsight my worries and concerns were completely founded. I've written about healthcare and taken part in an online discussion on sexual assault activism under a Trump presidency. I've written and shared more articles on immigration, read heartless comments, and cried at the sheer ignorance of so many people. In more recent months I focused more on the final months of my last pregnancy, because the truth is I was beginning to become overwhelmed by the daily assault on our civil rights. And I also believe that our babies sense our angst and anger in the womb and I wanted our son to believe in hope, happiness, and love.
This doesn't mean that I have not been following the news and the countless ongoing insults, ignorance and attacks on our lives and freedom.
It's been 6 months since Trump was sworn in as president, surrounding himself with women-hating, racist shitheads. We call Trump stupid, but I think he is smart enough to know exactly what he is doing. He breaks promises left right and center, but what did you think all of you people who voted for him? Did you really think he was your savior? His approval rate is lower than any president, but still the farce continues. But it's not a farce, is it? How many times has a new healthcare bill (or no healthcare bill to be more exact) been advanced and then dismissed, only to come back again? How many more times until it finally passes and so many of us lose our health insurance with no ability to afford what may or may not be offered? How long will we be waiting until ICE knocks on our door and breaks up our family? How long until my kids start asking me why they are treated differently? How long before the poor get poorer and the rich get richer? (Gosh Tracy Chapman's eponymous first album is still so relevant today). How long before more and more citizenship checkpoints appear all over the country? How long before the tax money we pay religiously every year goes towards building a plexiglass mega wall between Mexico and the US, even though illegal immigration rates are at an all-time low? How long before friends and family stop trusting each other?
Some of you are probably laughing under your breath, telling yourself I've watched one too many a dystopian TV series, been spending too much time with my head in a JG Ballard novel. Maybe I am being alarmist, overreacting, a worry wart. That's fine, I'm glad your privilege allows you to think this way. Some of us, many of us, don't have certain advantages, and while I know which ones I have, I refuse to forget about my brothers and sisters who don't.
How many more times over the next three and a half years are we going to sit here biting our nails waiting for the hammer to come down on us again? How many more articles can be written before they also start getting censored? I have already seen friends banned from Facebook for daring to call out people's ignorance (so it's OK to be a white power advocate but not OK to insult a Trumper?). What's next? Going after journalists and bloggers? Start with the immigrants and POC, the LGTBQIA community? Going after trans people in the military because, well because why?! A strategic way to divert our gaze? A way to yet again create inequality? Pandering again to the racist fucks who think they are superior to everyone else? Who knows. All I know is that every day brings a brand new issue to stand up against. A brand new hatred to fight against. Another group of people to fight harder for. And while it does get tiring to continue trying to educate and explain certain things to people we can never stop. Ignorance is only eradicated through education, and there is a LOT of that to be done in this country.
Here are some of the large issues we need to continue fighting in no specific order (and there are many more):
- More women dying due to pregnancy, childbirth and/or post natal related causes in the US than any other developed country
- Healthcare in general: it’s not over dudes… We need to prep for the next fight, because while we may have a few months of respite, we can’t lose focus on what is at stake.
- Constant assault on Planned Parenthood and Teen Pregnancy Prevention
- LGTBQIA rights: Trump portrayed himself as a fake ally, but his VP was always going to be someone who possibly thinks conversion therapy should be used to “fix” people, and is very much against marriage equality and punishing discrimination I still don’t understand why people believed any of the obvious lies he was spreading during his campaign… Who would surround themselves with people like Pence or Bannon if they didn’t believe in what they believe in?
- Institutionalized racism: if you can’t see it then you are part of the problem.
- Police brutality and continuous racism: same comment as above. Continue to say their names out loud: Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Alton Sterling, Charleena Lyles, Sandra Bland…
- Sexual Assault and rape: yeah, the president thinks consent is a joke.
- Immigration rights: such a huge issue, spanning the creation of a huge border wall, deportation of people without even letting them fight their case, ripping apart families, banning entry for people from certain countries, etc etc etc.
- Women’s rights: we don’t have time to take a breather, ever. As I type someone, somewhere in this country is probably writing up a bill that will relegate women to the back bench again.
- Poverty, homelessness, mental illness, providing veterans with REAL help, proper benefits… I could go on forever.