What can I do?
The question I keep asking myself, as an American, in this political climate of Trump vs. The World.
Before the election that made Donald president, despite being an aspiring journalist, I stayed away from news outlets for the most part–local and national. I didn’t want to know the details of the latest victim murdered in my hometown of Oakland, and I didn’t want to see any more sad faces of refugees. I knew generally what was happening, but I didn’t seek out details.
Because what could I possibly do to help my community–and people a world away? But when Trump was elected, something in me woke up. I realized I didn’t understand how America’s sequence of events got him into office, or how our politics worked. Since then, I’ve thrown myself into news coverage at a local and global level, eager to find out how the world functions, and not be deterred by the messiness of it.
And I’m not the only one. Since Donald’s election, subscriptions to national publications have risen dramatically. Within the shadow of uncertainty and lies from the new presidency, I wasn’t the only one who wanted to know the truth.
I can trace my deep anxiety around news coverage to childhood. It seemed like every other day, someone was shot dead in my city. I never knew how to process the fact that people I knew were losing loved ones to gun violence. I didn’t know anyone who had been killed, but I developed anxiety every time I ventured downtown or went to a different part of Oakland I was used to. What if I was next?
It’s also important to realize that someone can rarely understand current events if they don’t know history. After taking an African-American history class my first semester of college, I found myself trying to push out the memories of what I’d learned. It was so hard for me to accept that my ancestors had gone through such atrocities I hadn’t previously known.
I realize now I owe it to myself and future generations to be educated about my present and history. I’ve just been doing it wrong!
At the end of the day, journalism and history never stops. But I have the option of turning away from my computer, phone, and social media until I feel comfortable going back. I really liked this article that Everyday Feminism ran, “5 Self Care Tips for Activists — ‘Cause Being Woke Shouldn’t Mean Your Spirit’s Broke”. Even if you aren’t an activist but feel overwhelmed by the tragedy in the world, I think these tips can be helpful (they were for me)!
Overall, there will always be injustices in the world. But if we are ignorant to how these injustices came to be, how can we dismantle them? The election of Trump made me realized I needed to fight–and figure out what things I needed to learn in order to do that.
What have you been avoiding about the world? What do you need to learn?