People wait to vote for the Arizona primary election outside a polling station in downtown Phoenix on Tuesday, March 22. (Photo by Miguel Otarola/Cronkite News)

Forget Hillary and Trump – People of Color and Women are the Stars of This Election

HAPPY ELECTION DAY!

Have you voted? Are you on your way to vote? Did you watch Joe Biden’s silly video on voting? Do you believe that democracy is a ruling class farce and are thus too busy organizing to vote? In case you were wondering, I sent my absentee ballot from Delhi two weeks ago and it has ARRIVED in Flemington, New Jersey. Woohoo!

Me when I dropped my ballot in the mailbox.

I know that for many of us, this Election Day is an occasion more for condolences than congratulations. It’s been a hard, long, horrible, surreal/too-real ride through the worst of Hades(/contemporary American) — xenophobia, jingoism, blatant white supremacy, rape apologia, uncritical white feminism, and that horrible orange hair.

And we know that even when (if? gahhhhhh) we wake up on Wednesday with Hillary as president elect, these problems will remain. Quick primer in case the election-rhetoric-dazzled white folks have forgotten: America was founded on the theft from and genocide of indigenous people; got rich from the enslavement of black people; and became a world power through (yup, again, white-supremacist) war, including the overthrow of several democratically-elected governments. As a nation, the US continues to violently oppress black people, enjoys wildly unequal wealth distribution, terrorizes Muslims at home and abroad, and robs indigenous people’s land.

Contrary to the nationalistic election rhetoric, America does not have some exceptional redeeming national character or some transcendent moral purpose. It is a country, not a myth or a destiny. Imagining a good American president means imagining a radically different world. This radically different world doesn’t happen from a presidential election.

But it can happen. And today as I sit writing this — from a country where I’ve had the privilege to watch student movements take on the brutality of a Trump-esque Islamophobic pro-capitalist government — I miss America. Or rather: I miss you, all you fabulous righteous people with zeal in your raised fists, all the militant feminists and angry social justice warriors breathing fire on Facebook and in the streets. I miss your anger, your brilliance, your courage, your activism, your resilience in navigating the gazillion contradictions of what it means to live in and be marginalized by a belligerent white-boy superpower. You are all stars.

So this election day, a little break from the fear of Trumpocalypse (and Hillary status-quo-is-apocalypse) to celebrate some of the many complex ways marginalized folks organize to navigate and resist a system that runs on violence. These activities are often in fundamental tension with one another — from those organizing to get out the vote to those reminding us that getting out the vote doesn’t matter because either way the winner will be capitalism. At Feministing, we’re not endorsing anyone in this election. And we’ve all had different strategies to deal with the maximum bullshit, too: From celebrating Hillary’s historic milestone to eviscerating her foreign policy failings to, well — I think we’ve been pretty consistent with how we feel about Trump.

It’s the very diversity of this activism, the vitality of it, the resilience and ingenuity of people fighting in and against exploitative systems, that deserves to be celebrated far more than Hillary or Mr. Tang-for-Hair.

On election day…

Latino voters line up around the corner til 10pm in Nevada to cast early votes.

Chance the Rapper leads thousands of concertgoers in Chicago to early voting — a powerful image considering the blatant attempts at racist voter suppression in key states. 

Native Americans and allies continue to protest at Standing Rock. Many sit out the election: Neither Hillary nor Trump has adequately addressed either the pipeline or the issue of Native American rights.

Women born before the 19th Amendment survive a century of American sexism to cast their votes for the first female president (??!!?!?!?!?!) of the United States.

Not quite a nonagenarian, my grandma sits at her polling station in New Jersey as an official poll worker. She wears a bright colored vest and maybe a couple “I voted” buttons. She will cast her vote for Hillary, and she will be proud.

Unionized Latina hotel workers are employed by Trump — but they sure as hell aren’t voting for him. They’re organizing to make sure you don’t, either. 

Defying Trump, members of the country’s largest Arab community (Dearborn, Michigan) head to the polls. Defying both Trump’s Islamophobia and Hillary’s hawkishness and anti-Palestine stance, some vote third party.

Meanwhile, in neighboring Minnesota, voters — in defiance of Trump’s recent anti-Somali, anti-Muslim fear-mongering tour — are about to elect Ilhan Omar to congress. She’ll be the first Somali-American woman to hold American elected office.

POC Socialists call out the entire American election cycle for being an elite-class sham and remind us that on November 9 as well as January 21, it’s back to the streets in struggle.

Speaking of which: Eesha Pandit reports that grassroots alliances between black, brown, and LGBT organizers in Houston are forging new kinds of solidarity that will play out well beyond this election cycle.

Solidarity which resonates with the “Bazta Arpaio” movement, powered by young Latinos, aiming to oust racist Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio is responsible for some of the most atrocious abuses against Arizona’s Latino community, such as racial profiling, the institution of check points, and an outdoor “tent city” detention center in which people were kept in inhuman heat and appalling conditions. 

 Some black lives matter activists work to mobilize voters around the presidential election; some, disillusioned with both presidential candidates, mobilize around local elections or don’t advocate voting at all. Either way, on November 9, their work will go on.

Reina Gattuso is passionate about empowering conversations around queerness, sexual ethics, and social movements with equal parts rhapsody and sass. Her writing has appeared at Time, Bitch, attn:, and The Washington Post. She is currently pursuing a masters degree in Indian cinema, theater, and visual art at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi.

Reina Gattuso writes about her sex life for the good of human kind.

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