I have several very cool Facebook friends and before my woe-is-me post below I thought I’d let you know about some things that they are doing.
First, you may have heard that the ACLU filed a complaint re: Trump’s executive order banning people from certain countries. On page 18 of that complaint you’ll see my friend My Khanh’s name (so proud of her!) as one of the law interns in the suit. Here’s what she has to say:
Thank you so much everyone for the outpouring of support. Please, in addition to donating to ACLU, PLEASE remember to support local community-based organizations and those providing direct services like the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) which has been providing heroic efforts on the ground scene at JFK to stop deportations, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) which has been tirelessly responding to calls for help from here and abroad, the National Immigrant Law Center, Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, IRIS, Make the Road…there are SO many organizations fighting the good fight out there. And it involves so much more than typing behind a computer and filing a few papers in court (although that does seem to work sometimes too!).
Next, if you’re a mathematician or know mathematicians, you might be able to help my friend, math writer extraordinaire Evelyn Lamb help us:
Mathematicians: if you or a mathematician you know are affected by the executive order on immigration and want to talk to me about it in my role as a writer, feel free to email: rootsofunityblog at gmail. I may be writing about it and would be happy to hear your story, whether you would be willing to be named in the piece or not. This post is public. Please share, either here or over email, with people who might be interested.
Speaking of math, the American Mathematical Society put out a statement condemning the EO yesterday. But there’s more that mathematicians can do, and another friend and professor at Tufts, Moon Duchin has this 5-day gerrymandering summer school working with lawyers:
Worried about gerrymandering? This August I’ll be running a summer school to train mathematicians as expert witnesses for redistricting cases. We’re bringing together legal experts, GIS experts, and more. If there’s enough demand, we’ll run regional trainings around the country. Please spread the word… Geometry of Redistricting Summer School
Probably/hopefully many of you my readers have already been trying to call your representatives about various issues. As a die-hard liberal I’ve been using Daily Action for what to say each day. Also, my representatives (Ted Cruz, John Cornyn, Roger Williams) are SUPER HARD to get in touch with (voicemails always full! Hang-ups because all staffers are already busy!) but email is not a good way to contact your rep. Inspired by a tweet from Jordan Ellenberg:
I’m trying to do an in-between and writing a page a day and faxing it in to their offices. I can’t tell you how desperate/triumphant/sad/happy I felt when I got this:
I felt like maybe, possibly, someone in our government is having a harder time ignoring me.
Finally, for a morale boost, here’s my friend Piper Harron telling us to adapt to the new normal:
i’ve seen people say that the point of the ban was chaos. either to distract us from something shadier trump is doing now, or to fatigue (or over-stress) us against acting when trump does something shadier later. fine. but what am i supposed to do with that? am i supposed to not protest and freak out when trump is messing with people’s lives? am i supposed to not talk about it? i don’t understand. what is the advice attached to these warnings?
we were so worried about trump being normalized, but maybe our resistance needs to be. maybe we need to accept this new normal. trump is going to keep attacking us. and we have to keep responding, but we have to be in it for the long haul. we cannot allow ourselves to get fatigued. maybe that means finding a way to make the necessary calls, to make the necessary donations, to go to protests, not because we are angry or scared or fired up and ready to go, but because that is who we are now.
and maybe most of us should stop trying to figure trump out. for me personally, all i get out of worrying about where we’re headed is stress and inefficiency. i’m not in a position to get ahead of trump, and i’m not fleeing the country because of speculation. as someone who dabbles with anxiety, i can tell you that there is no benefit to living with alarm bells blaring and no mechanism for turning them off. so, time for a manual override. a recalibration. trump is not normal, but his attacks on our rights and ideals will be the norm for as long as he is president.
in other words, keep calm and defend freedom with all your might.
Do you remember when Black Lives Matter was nascent, and police killings of unarmed black people were dominating our national conversation? I remember running into this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpVeUVcFMAU then, and realizing that I could not relate/empathize with it but I could sympathize/feel compassion for the audience (black Americans). And that burden of feeling unvalued by society and feeling that everyone who looks like you is unvalued by society seemed so obvious and so heavy that it takes a tremendous amount of psychological energy to just exist in such a society.
So now we’re a week into the Trump presidency, and Tết was Saturday, which is the New Year for Vietnamese culture and the time that you pay your debts (before New Year’s) and clean your house and prepare for a fresh start with new hope for the new year. Those two events are very, very at odds with each other and I am not prepared for what a psychological burden it is to have my (ethnic) culture mismatch chronologically with my (national) culture.
Also, I am more prone to anxiety when pregnant so I’ve been having nightmares about being separated from my toddler and about losing one of my kids on a boat (my mom’s family are all boat people) and about my daughter being born in March with some life-threatening condition and not being able to afford her medicine as she grows up, and the usual anxiety-nightmare of running from some evil to find and save my family but I can’t. Here’s a story in the LA Times about Vietnamese refugees in 1975, when the U.S. did the right thing despite lack of popular support:
A Gallup poll in May 1975 showed that only 36% of Americans were in favor of Vietnamese immigration. Many feared job losses and increased public welfare. Even then-Gov. Jerry Brown sounded alarms about the toll the Vietnamese refugees would take on the state.
And on a sad dark note and what spawned this whole anxiety trip, my cousin posted this on instagram (I do not know the original source):
The picture on the right looks just like my son when he’s sleeping.
I went to a talk on Sunday and the professor said that the day we don’t allow brave, hopeful people to pack up their things and try a life somewhere new is the day we betray her:
This Dorothea Lange print of Florence Owens Thompson was from the Great Depression; she’s 32 and has just sold the tires off her car to try to get some more food for her seven kids. Hope is gone. She’s seeking refuge. But where is it?