9 activists on how they'll keep fighting for a brighter future

What next? If today feels like the day after the day after the end of the world, it isn’t. It’s time to organize. Here, nine activists share how they’re regrouping and pushing forward post-Trump.

by Alice Newell-Hanson
11 November 2016, 4:35pm

Photography Kathy Lo

Sarah Sophie Flicker, activist, performer, writer

How will you be refocusing your activism following Wednesday's result?
This was never going to be easy. If it was easy to elect a woman to the highest office, it would have happened already. Our ground game doesn't change. We women, and the folks who love us, will do what we do every day. We will roll up our shirt sleeves and do the work. We will gather our people, we will hold each other close. We will lead with love and collaboration. We will do this all while raising families, earning less, with less of a platform and less respect. We will be interrupted, harassed, belittled, and often shamed. This is what we do. We get to work. Today is the same as yesterday, except the 11th hour is this hour. We will lead marches, hold protests, back local politics, write manifestos, unite in living rooms and boardrooms. Those of us with privilege will hold space for those with less. We will hear each others' voices with respect and gratitude. We will talk to our kids, listen to them and raise a better generation. We will be caretakers, and we will do this mostly for free. Because that's what we do. Onwards!

What's giving you hope today?
My kids, my community, my passion, this work is giving me hope.


Photography Jarrid Jones

Benjamin O'Keefe, activist, writer, actor

How will you be refocusing your activism following Wednesday's result?
I am re-emboldened in a way I could never have imagined. For many across the country there is shock that racism, sexism, islamophobia, xenophobia, bigotry won — for all of the people that represent those marginalized groups we aren't shocked at all. We aren't shocked because oppression and discrimination have always been a part of our lives.

Instead we are shocked that it took folks so long to realize. Now that folks are starting to wake up it's time to mobilize them. This fight is not over.

I will never stop fighting.
I will never stop fighting to keep my right to marry my partner.
I will never stop fighting to end the deep-seated Islamophobia that is rampant in this country.
I will never stop fighting for Black lives.
I will never stop fighting for immigrants.
I will never stop fighting to level the economic playing field.
I will never stop fighting to ensure that no young person has to be like me and skip a college education because of finances.
I will never stop fighting for equality of the genders; including women and trans people
I will never stop fighting and for the majority of Americans that voted for Hillary Clinton you better not either.
The fight begins now. I was with Hillary Clinton and now #ImWithYou, the American people.

What practical steps can others take to help?
Don't mourn. Organize. Determine the issues you want to fight and build a group of people to help you do it. Join a group of like-minded people like MoveOn.org and don't throw out our emails; read them, learn, and mobilize.

What's giving you hope today?
I find hope in the people who wiped off their tears, picked themselves up, and got to work. I find hope in the kids who comforted their parents on election night. I find hope in history; that although we are country with a history of hate and oppression there have always been fighters. Just like I find hope in the leaders of our history, I find even more hope in the leaders of our future.


Photography Katie McCurdy

Sally Kohn, CNN political commentator, columnist

How will you be refocusing or reinforcing your activism following Wednesday's result?
I think we all need time to process this, but certainly going forward I'll be looking to follow the great progressive leaders in the field who have been working for justice and freedom all along. I'll be taking my cues from them and trying to be as supportive as possible.

What practical steps can others take to help?
A great start is to sign the pledge created by a mobilization of 100 women of color progressive leaders. You can find it at our100.org — it's a simple but powerful pledge saying you will take action to stand up for equality and against bigotry and hate.

What's giving you hope today?
I know humanity, and our country, have been through darker moments than this. And in spite of what this election might have left us thinking, I believe that the American people fundamentally aspire to be inclusive and fair. And I have hope we will continue to strive in that direction.


Photography Latonya Yvette

ShiShi Rose, writer and activist

How will you be refocusing your activism following Wednesday's result?
Mostly I want to keep people's spirits up because times are very bleak. But I also want to remind them that they need to unify and rally to get things done instead of waiting for someone else to lead them there.

What practical steps can others take to help?
Money donations to causes and to people putting in the ground work. Organizing events and protests. And educating the community.

What's giving you hope today?
The only hope I found was at the protest that I went to in New York on Wednesday night. We walked from Union Square to 55th and 7th to the Trump Tower chanting together and I felt peace.


Photography Brayden Olson

Tennessee Thomas, musician, activist, founder of The Deep End Club

How will you be refocusing or reinforcing your activism following Wednesday's result?
I have organized a community gathering for Saturday. This loss is the result of a fractured Democratic Party that doesn't represent everything Democrats want. We need to make our demands and take steps towards telling our local elected officials and each other what we want! We need a candidate who stands up for women, the poor, people in danger and also someone who puts our interests before corporate interests! And hears us when we say we want money out of politics! A candidate who is on the frontlines shutting down pipelines like the DAPL that seriously threaten our land and our health! We need a Democratic Party that hears all of our concerns, represents us, and is fearlessly radical! It's time.

What practical steps can others take to help?
Figure out which issues you're passionate about! Get involved with causes and organizations and groups in your communities fighting for what you care about. The next candidate we elect needs to hear our concerns loudly and clearly! We're on our way now.

What's giving you hope today?
My best friend is expecting a baby today! We need to make sure this world is as excellent as it possibly can be for the next generation!


Photography Melinda Riddle-McCoy

Sydney Shackelford, activist

How will you be refocusing your activism following Wednesday's result?
I will continue to be an advocate for LGBT and specifically transgender rights, educating those willing to listen. Whether it is through news articles or one-on-one conversations educating across party lines does not matter. I will continue to get the message out there that we are human beings who want to be able to live our lives freely without discrimination for being our true self.

What practical steps can others take to help?
We have to accept that Trump is going to be president and move forward. We must continue our fight for our rights as LGBT Americans and not give up. The Democratic Party is for the most part LGBT supportive and now we have been given a challenge to make the majority of the GOP LGBT supportive. It's a daunting task with evangelicals being part of the GOP, but with determination we can win the hearts of the majority of Republicans. Let's just hope that Trump stays healthy as I don't want to see Pence as president.

What's giving you hope today?
Remembering that the constitution is on our side. We do have LGBT allies in the Republican party and their numbers keep growing. Even though the GOP has control of the Senate, it's still a narrow lead and I think that will help with Republican allies. I believe Trump himself is not anti-LGBT so he's not out to take our rights away, but he also isn't trying to help us either and he has said he's against workplace discrimination. Let's not forget that in two years the legislative branch can change again and in four years we can choose a new president.


Photography Naomi White

Tanya Selvaratnam, founder of Filmmakers for Hillary and senior producer of Art Not War

How will you be refocusing your activism following Wednesday's result?
Rather than organizing to have Hillary's back and also to hold her accountable, I'll be joining forces with other activists to create an infrastructure that pushes back against the threats to women, immigrants, reproductive freedoms, the environment, and equity that are sure to come under a Trump-Pence regime. I was born in a country, Sri Lanka, that has experienced the deleterious effects of jingoistic, nationalistic, narcissistic rulers like Donald Trump. I'd like to be proven wrong, but we have to be ready to fight.

What practical steps can others take to help?
Now is not the time to give up, but to move forward. Take the time to cry, be angry, and be catatonic. Then figure out how to participate in a unifying conversation to expand tolerance and to build a movement that supports all Americans, including the non-college whites we heard so much about this cycle.

What's giving you hope today?
The election outcome is a wakeup call to American women and men that misogyny, racism, and even fascism run very deep within the tattered fabric of our nation. Now that all the ugly has been unleashed, we can address it. What happened with this election is as much the fault of progressives and the left as it is about the appeal of the xenophobic and isolationist plans put forward by Trump and Pence. Finally, I'm seeing lots of people all over the place declaring it's time to get involved. The unexpected effect of Trump's surprising victory is he is galvanizing people to come together against him.


Photography Jill Greenberg

Laura Dawn, musician and founder of Art Not War

How will you be refocusing your activism following Wednesday's result?
The election results have made me double down on my commitment to addressing systemic sexism. For me, this is the #1 most important thing I can devote myself to.

What practical steps can others take to help?
Stay involved. Join our group, Humanity for Progress, or MoveOn.org — make sure you're part of a community of activists that can keep you involved.

What's giving you hope today?
Love. Those who choose love today over blame. Those who choose the high road over the low. And the fact that the majority of people in this country did NOT choose Donald Trump.


Photography Jonathan Bachman

Blair Imani, founder of Equality for Her

How will you be refocusing your activism following Wednesday's result?
I will continue my optimism but I will also exercise self-care. In the past I have disregarded my personal safety for the sake of the movement and on Wednesday I made a shift in deciding to practice modesty by wearing a hat instead of hijab. I think that as activists we have to determine a way to forge a sustained movement. This has been in the works for a while, but I think now it is a more immediate need than ever before. People are already mobilizing and I look forward to being in a space where I can join them.

What practical steps can others take to help?
Educating themselves about who will be most targeted by a Trump administration. Folks should listen and center the voices of those who are most marginalized in developing the next steps. For me as a black Muslim woman I ask allies to deconstruct the bigotry that causes them to stare at or fear is Muslims and our traditions. I ask that allies hold the media accountable when they frame Islam as the genesis of terrorism. I want to see a more culturally competent America so that this fear, bigotry, and xenophobia does not persist.

What's giving you hope today?
I am empowered and given hope by strangers: an old ladies who smiled at me on the subway while I wore hijab, the activist who launched #NotMyPresident, and the people who are finally waking up to the reality of racism and bigotry here in our society and who are looking for ways to change it.


Related: When New York stormed Trump Tower


Text Alice Newell-Hanson

US election 2016
Think Pieces
Tennessee Thomas
blair imani
sarah sophie flicker
sally kohn
laura dawn
benjamin o'keefe
shishi rose
sydney shackelford
tanya selvaratnam