philosophy & politics

Let’s Get Political: How the 2016 US Election Affects Us All

by Bridget — November 14, 2016

US election 2016, sad, American, woman, country, political

The 2016 US Election has sent shock waves around the world, it’s not that a republican has been elected—conservative minds are a valuable part of politics—the controversy is who they have elected and why. Empress Tea gets political in a collection of heartfelt responses from a few of our fellow empresses who wish to voice their opinions.

NOTE FROM THE HEAD EMPRESS: Yes, we’re political and we like it that way. Art without an infusion of politics would be boring and pointless. Below are a variety of our political thoughts and you may not agree with them all. That’s okay with us. Regardless, you’re welcome to leave respectful comments below. Enjoy.


Myranda Bolstad ~ YELLOWKNIFE, Canada

The political is personal.

On Tumblr, where I frequently nerd out in my fandoms, an anonymous comment was made on a friends blog, asking her to tag her anti-Trump posts.  I’ve replied there, and I want to repeat it here because I have a lot of thoughts on this kind of request, and I want to speak about it with compassion but so you understand where I am coming from. So here’s what you need to know, in short:

All my posts are anti-Trump, because every fibre of my being is against the misogyny, ablism, bigotry, racism, sexist, anti-Muslim, anti-semitism, abuse, and terror, etc., he represents.

When I post about roller derby or my insecurities, if all I do is post pictures I take of Yellowknife or whatever else, even if I’m not taking about politics, it is still anti-Trump.  If you want to skip my anti-Trump posts, you need to skip them all. I’m not saying that in a mean way.  But this space, and other spaces where I have even a small platform, are spaces where I’m going to raise my voice for the people are in in real danger because of support for Trump (yes, your support) sent a signal that America is okay with hurting people for being a member of the LGBT+ community, for being Muslim, for being Jewish, for being a person of colour, for being a woman, for having disabilities. I’m NOT okay with that. The political IS personal. And maybe you “didn’t mean for that part to happen” but it did happen. Your vote told those people who do believe those terrible things Trump said while campaigning that you were behind all those things, that their actions now are okay. 

I’m lucky, because I’m Canadian and I get to live in my (albeit imperfect) country where I feel safe. But, Trump-supporters, other people don’t have that benefit. Your politics have personally, legitimately hurt people. People who are afraid to go grocery shopping or to the park. People who are in actual danger, because your vote for Trump made those who DO believe the vitriol that Trump spouted think they have your okay to tear the hijab off of women, to make comments about how they can’t wait for the wall to be built, to threaten women, to paint swastikas, to use the n-word and tell people to get ready for their slave numbers.  These are just a few examples of the horrific, brutal things that have happened as a result of support for Trump. That’s on you.

And so no, you don’t get an easy escape where you get to benefit from the wit, brilliance, creativity and loveliness of my fellow Empresses or my friends in the Tumblr world and then skip the parts where you see how your vote is actually hurting real people. I’m going to raise my voice in my space, at least, to repeat that it is safe for them, too, and that they are welcome to share with me how I can extend my privilege to help them. 

And I hope you look at this and you honestly truly think about what your vote means. Because maybe you think you cast your vote because you didn’t support the hatred part, just the other bits, and now realize that you can’t separate them out. And I hope you are horrified by the actions that followed just like I am, just like many of my friends in Canada are, just like so many people in the world. I hope this isn’t what you wanted. But you need to know that even if you didn’t want this part, you gave your permission for it, and not everyone has your privilege to be spared from it. So check your privilege. Check it hard. And if you can’t understand why this hurts other people and why they, on their own blogs are doing what it takes to keep themselves safe and sane or to help someone else feel safe and supported in just surviving in America right now, then do the both of us favour and unfollow me.

And for those of you who need to hear it, who are members of communities under attack right now, this is a safe space for you. Sending you love.  If there’s anything I can do that might help, please don’t hesitate to let me know. Stay safe out there.


Briana Murphy ~ NASHVILLE, United States (Empress Tea Alumni)

This isn’t mine (obviously), but this has turned into such an apropos song that I decided to do a last-minute late-night cover. The video is kind of sideways and the quality isn’t the best and my hair is a mess and I don’t have makeup on…but I feel like that’s kind of the right vibe for right now. The US is a late-night hot mess, flailing around in sudden darkness for a hallelujah.

Anywho, sending love from this hot mess of a country. 💜


JoAnna Pollonais ~ NEW YORK, United States

“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”

Since I’m uninspired to come up with anything else below is an excerpt from an email I wrote to a dear friend a few days ago.


I woke up this morning, sat on my couch and thought about what the election outcome means for America, the region, and rest of the globe. The result was a mess of tears. It was my only response to a world that is wholly unbalanced and where the energy of hate and contempt causes a visceral, egregious hurt. A hurt that can manifest for anyone, yes, appearing along social, fiscal or political lines but that cuts to the bone if you’re constantly on the crackling end of the bullwhip. Forced to endure the lash for having the ‘wrong’ body, the ‘wrong’ colour, the ‘wrong’ gender, the ‘wrong’ sexual preference or ‘wrong’ spiritual/religious deity.

Punished for things you cannot course correct because they were given out in the lottery of birth.

I’m used to the verbal assaults and name calling. I’ve heard a lot of it over the years. A “nigger” in Toronto and an “uppity” one in various parts of the US, I’ve been an “Oreo” in Scarborough and “ghetto thug” in Kelowna. I’ve been yelled at and spat on in Aalborg. When I didn’t eat pork for four years someone told me it must be because I’m “a filthy Muslim.” A job-stealing negro, I “had nothing to offer” the country of Denmark. In parts of the Middle East I’m “sub-human” and “scum.” I’ve been told to “go home” in Berlin and challenged on my nationality in Calgary. I know not to overstay my welcome in parts of Spain and Italy.

But that’s just the antagonism reserved for skin colour so let’s add some sexism and misogyny to the mix. Like other women, I have been told my place was in the kitchen or at the feet of a man. I’ve been chastised for having an education. I’ve been passed over for jobs and promotions because I didn’t have a dick. Like other women, I’ve been in situations where, after speaking up for someone or something, I’ve been told to “shut my trap” because my opinion carries no weight.

Mind you, this doesn’t hold a candle to the degrees of assault and sexual harassment I’ve encountered in every place I’ve dared to roam. In this I stand, inelastic, with innumerable other women, looking for ways to avoid being the target of some man’s passing aggression. Always searching for ways to keep stay physically safe and constantly steel myself with mental Kevlar against the magazine of words used to make women feel submissive and inferior and render us inert.

Chick. Bird. Bitch. Housefrau. Ballbreaker. Bimbo. Nasty. Psycho. Blonde. Piece of ass. Gold digger. Hellcat. Dkye. Tranny. Hooker. Slut. Tease. Cunt. Tart. Nag. Whore. Shrew.

Side note: privilege is being able to overlook the character-based flaws and shortcomings of those you elect into office because the full reach of their policies will *barely* affect you.

The current disgust I have for the country I live in at the moment has little to do with Trump’s electoral college victory. I don’t give a damn about him in the role of President because the job is little more than window dressing anyhow, and the only one he cares to help is himself.

What is of concern are the people he is surrounding himself with, along with the millions in the general public strutting around, high on misplaced power. Voters determined to hold this man to account for the things *they think he promised them.* And while this includes a lot of disenfranchised people with valid grievances like tax cuts, more jobs, better trade agreements or improved infrastructure, it also houses many (far more than the Left would like to entertain) eager to see measures pass that disempower, segregate and oppress.

Does this mean everyone who voted for Trump is a woman-hating, xenophobic, bigot? No, it doesn’t. Does it mean Clinton wasn’t hiding a closet full of skeletons? Nope. What it means is that everyone who cast such a vote (or chose not to vote at all) (un)intentionally sanctioned the actions of a morally-bankrupt sociopath who evades taxes, makes fun of people with disabilities, thinks its a man’s right to grab any pussy he wants, blatantly discriminates against minorities, claims climate change is a hoax, and says/does whatever is needed in order to maintain *his* status quo.

It should be evident why this widening of Pandora’s Box is dangerous; however, I guess if you’re not already standing out on the plank it’s easy to turn your head and look away. To shrug your shoulders and say “Find a bright side,” “Suck it up,” “Stop being a sore loser,” or “Let’s see what happens. It’s only four years.”

But for those of us on the *immovable* margins the waiting game has gotten, tediously, old. Especially now that it is increasingly acceptable to openly bully, harass, threaten and unleash your rage on those you claim to be the source of your pain.

#dividedwefall #startdoingbettertea-clearcup-icon

Christina Paul ~ KAILUA, United States

I have post-election flu. I need a sick-leave from reality. How can this be happening.

24h ago, I was buying a huge tub of caramel cone ice cream, CERTAIN that we’d be eating it in celebration of Hillary’s victory that evening. It honestly never even occurred to me that we’d be drowning our shock and sorrows in it instead…

My Facebook feed felt like a funeral – lots of friends coming together for a very sad reason.

I was actually going to launch a Gratitude Challenge today to celebrate Thanksgiving. So much for that. Nobody I know is going to be in the mood for warm, fluffy feelings right now.

Amidst all this doom and gloom, gratitude feels frivolous, misplaced, inappropriate even.

Last night, I went to sleep to Trump’s victory speech, floored and heartbroken, thinking, this is basically telling the world that it’s OK to be a misogynistic racist and hateful bigot because not only do you get away with it, you get to WIN.

This morning, I woke up to Hillary’s concession speech. Forgive the melodrama but it felt like listening to a mother’s parting words. ‘Be strong my dear, you’ll be OK, I’ll be with you in spirit.” “Nooooooo!!! Don’t goooooooo!!!” I cry, sobbing into her hand.

But by the time she was done, I was floored in a whole other kinda way.

So THIS is what rising from heartbreak looks like, this is how to get up off the floor with dignity, to create space in our hearts for both that which we believe in, and that which utterly baffles us. This is what gratitude looks like when you’re feeling completely and utterly crushed and defeated.

“I am so grateful to stand with all of you… This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it…let us not grow weary and lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.” – Hillary Clinton

Maybe gratitude is not frivolous right now, maybe it is absolutely essential that we hold on all the more fiercely to that which is right and good in the world.

Many have compared this election to 9/11. A psychological study done in the aftermath of the 2001 attack asked the question, what good are positive emotions in crises? The results showed that “amidst this amalgam of anger, sadness, fear, and anxiety…subtle and fleeting experiences of gratitude, interest, love, and other positive emotions appeared to hold depressive symptoms at bay and fuel post-crisis growth.”

So science says it is possible to hold both grief and gratitude in our hearts. And that seeking out gratitude, as subtle and fleeting as it may feel, will not only ease the pain, it will make us more resilient and powerful in the long run. 

When I was researching for the Gratitude Challenge, I came across 365 Grateful, and was so moved by their beautiful video about Amy. Like our Bailey, Amy’s little baby had a congenital heart defect, but tragically, hers didn’t make it…

The next day she told herself, “OK, you have a choice now. You can fall to pieces or you can get on with this.” And so after the funeral, she started taking one photo a day of something she was grateful for. “What started off as a coping mechanism became a healing mechanism.”

One of her gratitude photos was of the lyric, it is now that my life is mine. “That was the turning point for me, where I realised this gratitude thing is now a part of my life. I was taking ownership of my life… I had chosen to be happy.”

I know, nobody’s died here. But for some of us this feels like the world as we know it, or thought we knew it, is falling to pieces. I don’t know if we’ll be able to afford healthcare for Bailey if/when Obamacare is appealed. Just as American Muslims don’t know if they’re still safe, and women don’t know if they’ll be punished for choices they make concerning their own bodies.

But we can choose how we respond to this madness. We can fall to pieces, or get on with this.

And so, I’m going to get on with this. For there are more seasons to come and there is more work to be done. The Gratitude Challenge is back on, people. Who’s in?!

gratitude, political


Bridget Steis ~ HONG KONG SAR, China

fragile, world, political, art, bsteis

Mixed Media Illustration by Bridget Steis

Here’s what I think democrats/liberals need to do the world over: GO TO WORK. Now is the moment to give your time and money to charity, make meaningful art, to listen–really listen, & influence by example, using love, tolerance, and inclusivity.

“We can disagree and still love each other unless your disagreement is rooted in my oppression and denial of my humanity and right to exist.” —@SonofBaldwin

People want change, they’re tired, they’re angry, and for a variety of reasons they are finding ways to shake things up. Protests challenging the 1%, and yes, even changing the face of politics and democracy as we know it.

There’s an extreme distrust of politics, science, and straight forward facts. It’s this brushing aside of reality and facts that might be the most infuriating to me, and something that makes it difficult to really listen. The reason being, facts don’t stop existing because you don’t “believe” in them. This willing disregard of common sense and wisdom gets people so worked up that it becomes hard to listen and easy to start name calling and pointing fingers. I guess we all need to work on that.

There is a horrible, openly public, in your face, rising up of hate–not just in the United States but the world over. We saw it in Canada when Stephen Harper spewed white-washing anti-Muslim rhetoric running for his 3rd term–he didn’t get back in but he could have. Look at the severe resistance to refugees that’s been happening as Syrian people are fleeing in desperation from their homeland for safety. And we certainly must include Brexit, in part a reaction to the refugee crisis, as well as an ambitious break away from European political ties. America currently has a democracy screaming for change–what else would you call voting in the least qualified president elect ever to run?

The message I’m hearing–loud and clear–is it’s no longer the time of steady as she goes, or keeping the status quo, it’s time for radical change. A large number of people want something else. Do we all agree with the way they are going about it? Definitely not. But it’s obviously time to start making changes that make sense. There has to be a way for liberals and conservatives to work together–we’ve already been doing it for centuries.

How can we bridge the gap and bring both sides together? All of us are certain that we want something better than we have currently, but what should it look like? How can we satisfy all of our wants and needs without stepping on other people’s rights? The answer is out there but instead of scrambling around, arguing pointlessly, and trying to smash square pegs into rounds holes we need teamwork, inclusiveness, empathy, and really, really, big listening ears. It’s not going to be easy.

listening ears, humor, humour, ears, illustration, bsteis, political

Mixed Media Illustration by Bridget Steis


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