Post Election Thoughts

This piece was featured in The Wave on November 18, 2016

This past Tuesday, our country elected a new president. Given this particularly bitter election season, the aftermath of this election will impact millions of lives across this country, especially in the Rockaway community. The Rockaway Youth Task Force’s (RYTF’s) 501(c)(3) status means we are prohibited from endorsing a candidate for political office, but it does not make us immune to the fear, anger, and confusion that members of our community are feeling. This presidential campaign brought bigotry, racism, xenophobia, and sexism to a national stage and our country is now forced to knit itself back together. This means that our work is now more important than ever. RYTF is committed to empowering youth to advocate for equality and justice.

Many people in our community and around the world are asking, “What happens now?” While we don’t have all the answers or a road map of what the next four years might look like, we know it begins by working together. We cannot allow ourselves to turn against one another or doubt our neighbors. The next few years will be full of growing pains, but we refuse to participate in or perpetuate hatred or bigotry. We will continue to be a safe space for the youth in our community and by working together, we will be stronger than ever. What we can provide are some suggestions for moving forward. We believe that our next steps depend on us being informed, involved, and hopeful.

1. Be informed. Now more than ever, we need to ensure that we, as a community, are knowledgeable about our politics and our government. Ignorance has never been and will never be an excuse for inaction. Stop by the office to chat with staff members about current events or campaigns that we’re working on!

2. Be involved. While our online presence is an important avenue to share information, we must translate our posts into tangible action. “Likes” or “upvotes” will not impact our laws and government, but thoughtful action and rallying will. Make sure you’re aware of any RYTF events.

3. Be hopeful. Be hopeful because most of the country voted against hate and is willing to protect the human rights of every person in the country. Be hopeful because that for every hateful protest or hurtful demonstration, there are plenty of other peaceful and love filled public actions. Even in these dark times, remember that this is the same country that legally enslaved people, enforced Jim Crow laws, and allows black and brown bodies to die at the hands of law enforcement. We are not perfect now, nor have we ever been, but we will continue to grow and become the more perfect union that our constitution aspired for us to be.

In the end, we must remember that our work is not dependent on who resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The real work always has and always will be conducted on the ground by citizens like us. It’s time for each and every one of us to get involved at the grassroots level and strengthen our community block by block. The fate of our country depends on it.