By Cara Peters
In the aftermath of Donald Trump’s presidential victory, many Americans have spent the past few weeks piecing themselves together and trying to regain sight of hope. Some, however, are finding that silver linings are not so far from their line of vision.
Michelle Neal, a nurse from Oakley, California, says that in light of Trump’s election, she has experienced elevated levels of stress and depression. While a few of her friends have begun therapy as a means to cope, Neal is taking a more proactive approach.
“Right now, I’m paying close attention to the people that Trump is appointing to his administration,” Neal said. “Trump’s picks so far are likely going to set us way back in terms of social services, so the best I can do right now is fight that.”
Awareness and action, Neal believes, are her two most empowering tools at the moment. She says that she has been signing petitions from change.org and other campaign sites as a means to stay involved. As a safety measure for her own well-being, she has cut social media out of her life substantially.
“I uninstalled Facebook and Instagram from my phone and I only check them on my computer once every few days,” Neal said. “I couldn’t deal with all the Trump supporters, and all of the misinformation. I feel better not being absorbed by that negativity.”
Though she anticipates rough tides throughout the Trump administration, Neal finds solace in the thought that the majority of Americans who did not vote for Trump will act as a buffer against any detrimental policies.
“Honestly I think the next four years will be a time of damage control,” Neal said.“We’ve got our work cut out for us, and hopefully in 2020 we can try again with another grassroots candidate.”
While Neal has placed her faith in the unity of determined progressives, others are looking towards another faction of dynamic thinkers for encouragement.
Christian Legaspi, a 26-year-old music producer and DJ, believes that artists and the work they produce over the next four years will help to inspire activism.
“Music is such a powerful medium, and it can be used to solidify movements and get people to rise up,” Legaspi said. “Think about artists like Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, who stirred protest of the Vietnam war. Their music encouraged awareness, and most importantly, brought people together to fight for a common goal.”
Legaspi immigrated to the United States when he was 7 years old, and says that it was painful to see Trump, a candidate whose campaign he believes was founded largely on xenophobic rhetoric, win the presidency. Yet, he speaks optimistically about the potential unity that music can bring a divided country.
“There’s been a rise in hate crimes since Trump was elected, and I’ve personally felt that animosity,” Legaspi said. “As a musician and performer, though, my ethnicity doesn’t matter. When I’m playing for a crowd, people come together in a space where differences go unnoticed. That’s a powerful thing, and I believe that musicians can and will use that power for a greater good.”
Beyond the influence of music and song, is the influence of words themselves.
In an era of communication where one can become an overnight sensation from a single blog post or Youtube video, the potential of a wi-fi equipped laptop or smartphone cannot be underestimated. Compelling words can affect a nation with just a few clicks.
Rudy Lopez, a Master of Fine Arts and artist by profession, is hopeful that there are many forward-thinking intellectual works to come, which will have reaching impacts on our nation through the Trump Administration and beyond.
In his lifetime, Lopez says he has never witnessed such an overwhelming election cycle, and has been shocked by the outpour and wide reception of Alt-right ideals. Yet, he’s also confident that this reinvigorated white nationalism is a greater incentive for progressives to express themselves.
“This has been an unconventional election, and if the KKK, neo-Nazi’s and other white supremacists feel emboldened to express themselves like they wouldn’t have dared before, why wouldn’t progressives?” Lopez said.
Himself a writer, Lopez is looking forward to seeing this response play out through written works and leave its mark and influence in this politically troubled period.
“It will be interesting to see how all of the arts react to this new presidency,” Lopez said. “I believe something artistically wonderful will come out of it in the end, and a hundred years from now people will look back in awe at what was created and it will be a continuing inspiration.”