My name is Jamie Kingston. But for the next four years, you can call me Storm.
My queer friends? You can call them Northstar, Prodigy, Moonstar and Wolfsbane. Or Anole, Shatterstar, Rictor, Karma and Iceman.
My chronically ill friends? You can call them Strong Guy, Cable, Husk. Siren or Sunspot.
My Muslim friends? Call them M or Dust. (Or Ms. Marvel, because I can’t imagine Kamala wouldn’t be sympathetic)
My disabled friends you can call Blindfold, Karma, Rogue.
My friends who hail from other countries? Warlock. Longshot.
My Native American friends? Thunderbird. Proudstar. Warpath.
We are the X-Men. We get to live in a world we now know for a fact hates and fears us.
The US Elections in November were the stuff of legend – the stuff of nightmares. Donald J. Trump won the Electoral College, even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 1.6 million votes. Trump’s supporters are not being gracious in victory, either.
There was an immediate spike in hate crimes in the wake of the victory.
There have been swastikas painted on Beastie Boy Adam Yauch’s memorial, to which the surviving Beastie Boys have responded with an anti-hate rally. There have been multiple stories of women (both Muslim and not) being assaulted and their headwear snatched by Trump supporters who bought into his xenophobic rhetoric wholeheartedly. One of those people I know personally.
Those of us who were left gaping in astonishment and dismay at the world since November 9 are feeling so many things: rage, fear, helplessness, hopelessness. It feels like only a hop skip and a jump to the Sentinels and “Days of Future Past.”
But like the X-Men, we cannot give into those reactions and let them guide our actions the way certain Trump followers have embraced their worst hate. Neo-Naziism, like the Friends of Humanity, has taken this victory as not just a political one, but carte blanche to mistreat anyone they think is not like them: a “real American”. Not really human.
So what can we do besides marathon the Fox series from the ’90s, reread the Claremont issues, and cosplay, hoping people pick up the reference? We are geeks, not activists or superheroes. Who says we can’t be something else and still be ourselves?
We don’t have any telepathic geniuses or empaths to show the other side how we feel and why we are afraid. We can’t go berserker on the segment of the country that elected the President. We can’t whistle up time portals to hop through and undo it. Lacking mutant (or Inhuman) superpowers, we’ve got to work with what we’ve got.
If you’re a geek and you want to do something substantive, here are a few suggestions.
Find A Group to Help You Speak Up
This one is a hard one, so I’m getting it out of the way first.
A lot of geeks are good with the written word but not so good with speaking, especially to more than one person. The whole point of Toastmasters is to get over that discomfort and unease. That will make it easier when you feel like you do have to support your point to others. You will also develop a network of supportive people who have all been there, and are happy to encourage you at your own pace.
Toastmasters is not your only option. If your finances don’t support an organization that requires dues, or your company doesn’t subsidize one, you can find or start a group. A quick Google will get you started on finding them.
Blog, Tweet, Snapchat…
If talking is not your speed or a step you’re up to taking just yet, there’s always writing. Geeks are already good at research. We can tell you which episode it was that Oz first said “Willow Kissage” in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We can tell you why that “what happens to a toad when it’s been struck by lightning?” scene in Bryan Singer’s X-Men was supposed to have been awesome but fell short.
[pullquote]Facts are more important now than ever.[/pullquote]Now we’re applying those typing, research, and fact-collating skills to a purpose that means looking out for ourselves and our fellow Americans imperiled by the potential changes wrought by the new administration.
Facts are more important now than ever, because the fringier elements will try to poke holes in any critique no matter how small, fair, or justified. Share, share share. We have to be vigilant and document anything and everything.
Anything we have going viral reminds people, “We exist! We resist! You must hear us! We insist!”
You don’t have to worry about optic blasts wrecking everything when you open your eyes. So keep those peepers open wide. Watch for hate. Don’t stand still for it. If you can’t handle confronting a bully or a hater, do what you can to be there for their target so they don’t feel alone.
[pullquote]This is more than wearing a safety pin for the feel goods. This is a genuine duty to protect those the world hates and fears. [/pullquote]This is more than wearing a safety pin for the feel goods. This is a genuine duty to protect those the world hates and fears. We have already let them down by letting the hatred fester, grow, and get a toehold in the psyche of the nation.
If you see something, say something. If a hate crime happens before you, whip out that cellphone. Call the authorities. Blog. Tweet. Instagram. We have to be able to back up everything we say with proof. If the authorities are not doing what they should be doing to help, we need to document that too.
If you feel the need to arm yourself, do it legally. We’ve faced bullies before. Their swagger cannot sway us. We cannot give in and lower ourselves to their level.
Do not fall for the spin. The media is already doing what it does, cozying up to the administration to be.
The Hamilton tempest in a teacup of November 18th weekend became a trending topic on Twitter with supporters of the new administration calling for boycotts, or disrupting performances they already have tickets to. The New York Times tackled the issue but failed to mention that the policies of the vice president elect were why the audience booed. It failed to mention that the cast of Hamilton respectfully requested the audience not boo. It also conveniently neglected to mention that the remarks made on behalf of the cast of Hamilton were positive and made with the utmost respect. They merely asked that the person who will be vice president at the time of inauguration to remember that his job includes serving all Americans, not only the ones whose votes tilted the Electoral College in his candidate’s favor.
[pullquote]Do not let weasel words sway you. Call them what they are at every opportunity.[/pullquote]The truth is that savvy minds in the to-be-administration’s camp are aware that they have someone who is feared by the people he hates and fears. They wanted to humanize him and they were not throwing away their shot. They wanted America to see him as a guy just like them, who likes the same stuff they like, the hot musical (that only the most privileged can afford unless they save up). They wanted to humanize him, and if you will forgive the expression – the gambit failed. But the media is spinning it as though boorish detractors attacked him unprovoked.
Alt-right is not just another splinter group of the right like the tea party. They are literal Neo Nazis, proud to go by the name. Do not let weasel words sway you. Call them what they are at every opportunity.
We may not have a fat inheritance like Charles Xavier or liquid assets like Emma Frost and Warren Worthington III, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help.
There have been and will continue to be YouCaring.com and GoFundMe.com sites set up for people in dire straits. You can give to those if your finances permit. Just keep your eyes and ears open to make sure they’re on the up and up! Likewise, you can also watch for ones set up by Neo Nazis or other hateful groups and report them to get them taken down. The Terms of Service work in your favor here. We must use every advantage we have.
If you don’t have enough money to share, a lot of people sell their skills and contribute that way. I’ve seen several artists selling their artwork and donating the proceeds to ACLU. If you don’t draw but knit, you can sell your knitting project. If you work in polymer clay, you can sell your statues. If you do editing or typing for term papers you can sell that skill. Your hourly rate, some or all proceeds donated to the group of your choice who will stand up for us against unjust laws, hate crimes, and other infringements against our diminishing rights.
If you’ve got a collectible you can bear to part with, or a valuable comic or game card, you can put it on LetGo or eBay and donate the proceeds from the sale.
The X-Men have multiple teams for a reason. They can’t all fight the good fight all the time and neither can we.
Most importantly, take care of yourself. You can’t help yourself if you’re over-stressed, under-slept, over-worked, and constantly on edge.
Rest. Hydrate. Eat. Even if the current situation or the news turns your stomach. You need your strength.
Sleep even if the current situation or the news makes you fear nightmares. You need to be sharp and clear headed.
This is not a fight we have to face alone. The Avengers are on our side too.
No more fear. Only hopeful optimism. I gonna let love be my guide. All my energy will now go towards protecting the rights of ALL Americans
— Chris Evans (@ChrisEvans) November 9, 2016
You know what we do now? We finish building what we started and we FIGHT BACK! Lift your heads up brothers and sisters.
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) November 9, 2016
The Last Time I survived Jim Crow I was Poor, guess what MOTHERFUCKERS.. Not This Time!! Enjoy your newfound win,Bigly!!
— Samuel L. Jackson (@SamuelLJackson) November 11, 2016
If you have constructive ideas for helping us survive a world that hates and fears us, let us know at @womenoncomics at Twitter.
EDITED TO ADD: The giving paragraph, which occurred to me after original post time.