The Country Needs Us, And We Need You: A Call to Action

The Country Needs Us, And We Need You: A Call to Action November 16, 2016

Guest Post: by C. Shawn McGuffey

Since the election I have been saddened. Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have a loving partner, family, friends, and students that reach out at precisely the right times to keep me intact. My good choices keep reaping benefits.

And as you can see from the picture, I’ve also been acting, organizing, and participating. I am so proud of the many community members that are still doing the work to make this world better.


Many of us, however, still have not recovered from last Tuesday’s election results. As a black queer man, the trauma for me started around 2:45 a.m. on November 9th. That was when Vice-President elect, Mike Pence–a man who has viciously attempted to strip LGBT people of rights and also supports conversion therapy–introduced a man that ran on a blatantly racist, sexist, anti-immigrant, Islamaphobic, xenophobic, platform as our next President.

For many of us the election of a man who has used hate to win the presidency, and who has insulted every marginalized group, is further confirmation that we are not welcome. Many of the people who voted for Trump may not personally or consciously share the hate-filled messages espoused by Trump and his surrogates. But those people are telling me – and many folks like me, and many folks that love people like me – that the hate did not bother them enough.

What this election did for many people is show how we’ve underestimated the power and endurance of patriarchy and white supremacy.

And now many are calling for us to come together. It’s particularly rich when the Trump campaign says “come together”– when the entire campaign did its best to divide us. It’s as if we are supposed to either forget or downplay what we saw and what we have experienced.

I refuse to do that. I will not do that. And there isn’t any empirical or historical evidence to suggest that any of us should do that.

While it is okay to have a difference of opinion – and many of us do have reasonable, ideological differences – we cannot come together if you are questioning my very humanity. We cannot come together if the human dignity of certain people is up for debate; namely, the people who are rightly expressing their fear of and anger towards the Trump campaign. We must continue to hold up a mirror to the U.S. As Martin Luther King stated, “We do not have the luxury of cooling off.” People’s lives are literally on the line. And this is precisely why we can’t wait. We must act. We must demand.

And as I watch Donald Trump putting together his transition team, and as he appoints known White supremacist, Steve Bannon to a position of great authority, I know opposition is needed more than ever. More than ever it is important for us to speak up – loudly – and be heard. Because as Zora Neal Hurston explained: “If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” More than ever it is going to take a lot of mobilization work to prepare us for the next four years. As Coretta Scott King reminded us: “Freedom is never really won…you win it in every generation.”

I urge you to seriously think about how much you can give physically, emotionally, and financially to improve the lives of those targeted by this hate-filled rhetoric, and to fight the hate-filled policies that may result from this administration. How much can you give to help prepare the next generation of social justice warriors? Whatever you can share, please do. Because we need it. And this nation desperately needs us.

*Ed. Note: Find contact information for your Representatives here. And here is a script with some suggested talking points. 

You can also donate to organizations that will defend the rights of marginalized populations. Here are a few: 

The Southern Poverty Law Center

American Civil Liberties Union

Human Rights Campaign

The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

She Should Run

Council on American Islamic Relations

Native American Rights Fund 

Whether you act, speak, or give–let your voice be heard.

shawnAbout the author: C. Shawn McGuffey, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Sociology and African & African Diaspora Studies at Boston College.  A native of Lexington, Kentucky, his scholarly work primarily highlights how race, gender, sexuality and social class both constrain and create the choices survivors pursue in the aftermath of trauma.  Two of his current projects focus on sexual trauma.  One examines how gender, sexuality, and race shape parental responses to child sexual abuse; and the other investigates the social psychology of Black rape survivors in the U.S., Ghana and South Africa.  A third project investigates the ways in which Darfurian genocide survivors navigate the International Criminal Court; and a fourth examines Black LGBT views on same-sex marriage.  McGuffey is the recipient of three American Sociological Association section awards:  the 2006 Sally Hacker Award for research excellence, a 2009 “Best Research Article Award,” and a 2016 “Distinguished Article Award.”  In 2016 he also received the Kimberle Crenshaw Outstanding Article Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems.  The Ford Foundation, a Research Incentive Grant, and the Institute for Liberal Arts have supported his research.  He has given invited lectures at the Center for Children and Childhood Studies at Rutgers University, The Center for the Study of Violence and Prevention at the University of Colorado, Harvard University, and the University of the Western Cape in South Africa.

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