The weeks since Election Day have been difficult and frustrating, to say the least. The outcome of the presidential election was a shock to many and a clarifying moment for all.
Many folks are asking me: What should I do now? How can I show the strength of my values and prepare for the uncertainty of the coming Trump presidency?
These are tough questions to begin to answer. I have thought seriously and thought seriously again, about what my responsible replies would look like. Here are a few, all of which come with the caveat that now is not a time to be silent or still. Now is a time to act.
Protect our community:
We all know that hate crimes are on the rise across the country, and our community is no exception. The Southern Poverty Law Center has been tracking this disturbing increase Now we must stand up for tolerance and respect for our neighbors. Many young immigrants are living in fear of hateful speech and accompanying dangerous behavior. They are threatened by the President-Elect’s frequent calls for “mass deportation” and his immigrant-demonizing rhetoric frequently heard during his campaign. J.E.B Stuart High School recently hung a banner proclaiming we are one at the school entrance as a bold statement of reassurance and solidarity.
You can demonstrate your willingness to stand up for the vulnerable among us in many ways. I have chosen to request that the Fairfax County School Board name FCPS a sanctuary institution declaring that our school system is a safe place for learning and its classrooms are free of bullying and hostility toward any student, regardless of immigration status. My alma mater, the University of Miami, is one of many communities of learning now working to develop sanctuary policies supporting this declaration. I believe that FCPS should publicly stand as a strong and united sanctuary institution.
Get involved in our government:
As President Obama said, ‘Voting counts, politics counts!” Several organizations that have been involved in nonpartisan voter registration and education in the months leading up to Election Day are using their frustration at the results of the presidential election to encourage involvement by offering civic involvement opportunities, training and support. Democracy for America, the Organizing Project, OneVirginia2021, Progress Virginia, the Civic Engagement Table, the New Virginia Majority, Stronger U.S. and Organizing for Action are a few such activist and largely community-based groups. Of course, both major political parties are recruiting candidates to run for offices ranging from the local to national level. There are several nonprofit volunteer groups offering candidate training: the Sorensen Institute,Emerge Virginia and Women Leaders of Virginia to name a few.
If you are interested in working with me as a volunteer, either in Richmond during the General Assembly session or campaigning, I am anxious to hear from you.
Invest in our future:
Spend as much of your time, energy and resources as you can to build a future you believe in. I believe that education is the key to building a future that is equitable and just. Again, to quote President Obama, “We must work together to see that the basic decency and goodness of the American people is reflected in our politics.” Public education is the most common meeting ground, the most accessible American meeting place, for people of all nationalities, religions, races and political philosophies. We must do everything we can to ensure education is open and available to all members of our community.
(Warning: Shamelessness Ahead)
I firmly believe that education should be accessible and affordable. That is why I founded the Stuart Educational Foundation 11 years ago, a foundation offering scholarships based on financial need and academic achievement to J.E.B. Stuart graduates. The all-volunteer organization proudly awarded more than $115,500 in scholarships to 41 Stuart graduates this year. Contributions from community members, as well as partnerships with local community groups, fund these often life-changing scholarships. Now I will shamelessly suggest that you contribute to the Stuart Educational Foundation and offer higher educational opportunities to our future leaders. If you chose to donate, your contribution will be matched dollar for dollar by a generous Stuart graduate who knows that the only acceptable answer to the question “What should I do now?” is “Act now! Make your voice heard!’
Delegate Kory represents the 38th District in the Virginia House of Delegates. She may be emailed at [email protected]