A lot of us are still reeling from what happened on November 8.
Some of us are angry, some are listless, others are nonchalant. But what I have seen more than anything else is that most of us are faithful. I have heard time and time again people saying, “God is still God, no matter who is president,” or “God still woke me up this morning, so I will be blessed,” and “God will make a way.”
One of the old hymns we used to sing at the church my grandfather pastored was, “We’ve Come This Far By Faith.” The lyrics say, “We’ve come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord, trusting in His holy word, he never fails, he’s never failed me yet.”
It speaks of an unwavering faith that no matter what happens, God is in control. And there is no doubt about that. But some of the people exclaiming their unwavering faith through this dramatic process simultaneously want to take a hands-off approach to what comes next. It brings me to a favorite quote from the Bible:
Faith without works is dead.
The election of Donald Trump has many people feeling like the country is moving backwards. They are looking for something to cling to, and faith is often that thing that provides solace when all else fails. While we should allow our faith to guide us, we cannot and should not think that our faith alone will solve our problems. We have to engage through action if we want to avoid the mistakes and hard lessons that our ancestors lived through in the past.
Even though we are still getting over the results of this last election, our path to change involves continued engagement in the political process.
We should most definitely take time to sort through our emotions and process what is undeniably valid pain. That’s critically important. Here are some ways to turn your emotion into action and maintain the progress we have won while securing the future:
• Stay informed on the issues. Each day that legislative bodies are in session, they are discussing issues that impact our lives. By staying informed, you can decide what issues to advocate for and against, you can learn who the sponsors of the bills are and can monitor the progress of the legislation. There are several tools online to help monitor legislation at various levels. Govtrack.us tracks the legislation in the US Congress, while the National Conference of State Legislatures (www.ncsl.org) tracks state legislation. You can search by a specific word, member or topic on both sites.
• Engage the new administration. You may not have voted for President-Elect Trump, and you may not like him, but he is still accountable to you. The same goes for every other elected official who was on your ballot. Your issues matter, and they have a responsibility to hear you out. Take the time to tell them about the issues that matter to you by emailing, calling or sending an old-fashioned letter. To make the most effective use of your time, be sure to have your issue outlined and research how to advocate. Within the Trump Administration, there will also be an Office of Public Engagement, and that will include a person responsible for African-American engagement. This person will help elevate the issues to the president and serve to represent black interests in the White House. Additionally, most departments in the administration have an Office of Civil Rights. Whether it is the Department of Justice, Education or Agriculture, there is someone who is responsible for protecting and advocating for civil rights
• Get to know the Black Caucus. There are Black caucuses in Congress and State Houses that unite to advance the Black agenda. This means, even if a Black member does not represent your district, the Black Caucus can be an ally in the fight to promote your issue. The Congressional Black Caucus serves as the conscience of the Congress, raising issues that will impact our community. In addition to the Black Caucuses of your respective state, there is an organization that brings together all of the Black members of state legislatures called the National Black Caucus of State Legislatures (thelegislator.org) that highlights the work being done in states across the nation. These members and their offices can be used as a resource and foundation of support for advancing the black agenda.
• Support black candidates and black civic engagement work. There are annual local and state elections in addition to the Congressional races that take place every two years. In these races, there are black candidates who are looking for assistance in fundraising. Donating to black candidates helps them reach more people. There are also organizations that connect people who want to support Black issues with people running for office and other types of campaigns. Several of them could use financial support and resources to move a black agenda. The Collective (collectivepac.org) is a political action committee whose mission is to build black political power by supporting candidates and initiatives committed to uplifting the black community. Higher Heights for America (higherheightsforamerica.org) is building a national infrastructure to harness black women’s political power and leadership potential. The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (www.ncbcp.org) is a nonprofit dedicated to increasing civic engagement and voter participation in the black community. By supporting them, we can build governments that reflect our interests and issues.
• Join a civil rights organization. There have always been challenges to our civil rights. It is unclear how the new administration will respond to the civil rights challenges of today, but if campaign speeches are any indication, we will need to support and join our civil rights organization to help foster change. Old and new civil rights organizations are often able to engage the federal and state elected officials and administrations in ways that an individual is unable to because of the increased resources they have. There are many organizations that people of all ages and ideologies should consider joining. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), The National Urban League and National Action Network (NAN) are some of the larger, older and more established groups. Black Lives Matter Network and Million Hoodies Movement for Justice are newer and composed of younger people demanding change. ColorofChange.org is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization.