The line stretched all the way down Biscayne Boulevard: thousands of Miamians clutching signs bearing phrases such as "Sister, act," "The 4-year pussy riot starts now," and "Trump voters: It's fascism, stupid." An hour after Bayfront Park Amphitheatre's gates opened, they had to close. South Florida's answer to the national Women's March had already reached its capacity of 10,000 protesters.
Then someone held down a fence, and hundreds more quietly poured into the packed space. Some who couldn't get in set off on a march through downtown and shut down I-395. Others stayed in line at the gate and chanted, "Let us in!" The organizers, two former middle-school classmates, were stunned. They thought 5,000 attendees max would show.
"It felt like there was no other option," said Milly Legra, one of the protesters, who held a friend's sign that read, "Fuck you, Cheeto Voldemort."
Miami was pissed off. And no wonder: During an epic dumpster fire of a campaign, Donald Trump threatened just about every marginalized group in the nation while dragging white supremacists, xenophobes, and misogynists onto the main stage of American politics.
Two-thirds of Miami-Dade County voted for Hillary Clinton, but a minority of American voters — with a handy assist from Russia and the FBI — propelled the tiny-handed, fact-averse, narcissistic Twitter troll into the Oval Office anyway. Then the real nightmare began.
Contrary to assurances from Trump apologists, he has not toned down his erratic, middle-of-the-night tweetstorms. And his most insane campaign proposals are already coming true. Trump has ordered a multibillion-dollar border wall, dismantled climate-change plans, and drafted a de facto Muslim ban. With zero evidence, he has insisted voter fraud prevented him from winning the popular vote, and falsely claimed to have had the largest inauguration turnout. When he was roundly called out for that last falsehood, his counselor, Kellyanne Conway, excused it as an "alternative fact," inadvertently sending George Orwell's 1984 to the top of best-seller charts.
America is in a dark place. And Miami has more to lose under Trump than any other city in America. Not only is the Magic City home to one of the nation's largest immigrant populations, but it is also sinking into rising seas faster than any other U.S. city and has one of the nation's biggest income-inequality problems.
But don't despair, Miami. Resist. The Women's March showed that Dade County won't quietly accept Overlord Trump and his agenda. From cutting carbon from your life to sheltering immigrants from the feds and just pissing off the Donald on Twitter, it's time to fight.
Save the Earth
The facts are stark. Last year was the hottest on record across the globe. Over the past decade, the average rate of sea-level rise has increased by six millimeters per year. And in Miami Beach, the impact is already being felt. Since 2006, rain-based floods have risen by 33 percent, and tidal flooding has spiked by 400 percent, University of Miami scientists found. In September 2015 during king tide, the water reached 2.2 feet, the highest nonstorm water ever recorded there. People had to wade through flooded streets and sidewalks. Mayor Philip Levine's campaign famously featured a commercial in which he kayaked home from work.
The majority of South Floridians — some 75 percent — live near the coast, where fancy condos are stacked right along the water. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development gave Miami the unenviable distinction of the world's most vulnerable city in terms of potential property losses, with more than $416 billion worth of real estate at risk to rising seas. Rolling Stone has already declared the Magic City doomed.
Make no mistake: Climate change is a global threat, but Miami is especially screwed.
"This was a time we needed somebody who really has a good understanding of science and a moral commitment to protect the natural world," says Matthew Schwartz, executive director of the South Florida Wildlands Association, "and we're not getting that."
In fact, our fearless leader has already pledged to kill the Climate Action Plan, which set goals to reduce carbon emissions by 3 billion metric tons by 2030, devoted billions of dollars in loans to cleaner-energy projects, created local-level task forces to prepare for climate-change effects, and directed new international efforts. Trump's policy plan called it "harmful and unnecessary." He also chose a climate-change denier to head the Environmental Protection Agency and then put a gag order on the agency's scientists. And he has promised to back out of the landmark Paris climate deal reached just last year.
You probably can't get Trump to recognize that climate change isn't a Chinese hoax. But instead of just waiting for Miami to turn into Atlantis, you can work on reducing your own carbon footprint and get involved in taking care of South Florida's environment.
"If people care about this place and call it home," says Zelalem Adefris, climate resilience program manager for Catalyst Miami, "I think they should definitely be concerned about it and doing something now."
For starters, environmentalists and climate-change activists suggest, carpool, ride your bike, use public transportation such as Metromover (it's free!), take a kayak, whatever — just try driving less. Trump will hate that! If you're in the market for a new car, get one that's fuel-efficient or electric.
Eat less meat, especially less beef (fun fact: Cow poop and farts release methane, another greenhouse gas). Join the Meatless Mondays movement.
Reduce your energy consumption at home. Switch your light bulbs to LEDs, and turn off lights when you leave a room. Use less hot water, take shorter showers, and turn off the faucet while you're brushing your teeth. Avoid buying bottled water. Set your thermostat to a higher temperature when you're not home. See how you're doing by taking the CLEO Institute's Carbon Footprint Self Assessment.
"Things that are so small and minuscule that you really wouldn't think would make a difference do make a difference in the long run," says Michelle Rodriguez, the CLEO Institute's program director.
Make time to jump in on a beach cleanup. You can find planned cleanups throughout South Florida at volunteercleanup.org, which lists at least ten a month. Last year, those efforts removed more than 50 tons of plastic from the bay and ocean, according to founder and environmentalist Dave Doebler.
While you're at it, throw some money and time at local environmental groups such as the South Florida Wildlands Association, the CLEO Institute, Miami Waterkeeper, the Everglades Trust, and Love the Everglades Movement.
You should also become a true stakeholder by getting out to South Florida's public lands. You'll be a better advocate, and you'll have a deeper appreciation of the threats, Schwartz says. "If we want to protect these areas, getting to know them is a very good way to start."
Joanne Sterner's fight began in 1969, when she was denied what was then considered a "man's job" at a warehouse. She sued and ultimately won a settlement worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and a gig driving a forklift. Later she got into electronics and was the only woman in her class. She has spent decades advocating for equal rights.
Now white-haired and in her 70s, Sterner is dismayed to see where America is headed.
"I mean, things are just going backwards because women took everything for granted that they weren't being discriminated against," she says. "Women aren't making what men are making, they're not in higher positions, they're not presidents and CEOs of companies — a few are, especially if they start their own companies — but the statistics don't look good for women."
She's right. A 2016 report by the Miami-Dade County Commission for Women shows persistent gaps among men and women in the county. The median income of female-headed households is 25 percent lower than their male-headed equivalents, and there is a 47 percent earnings disparity between men and women with a graduate or professional degree. Full-time female workers made 87 cents for every dollar earned by a man.
Now imagine what Trump will do. He bragged about sexually assaulting women; promised to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which provides coverage for birth control as well as prenatal care; and said there should be "some sort of punishment" for women who have abortions. His inauguration sent at least 3.3 million demonstrators into the streets in a nationwide Women's March believed to be the largest protest in U.S. history.
Activists say the first step in fighting a women's-rights rollback is simple: Keep that momentum going. And there are plenty of ways to do it.
"I just tell people: 'Research what stirs your passion, and whatever that is, that's where you need to start,'" says Debbie Korge, executive director of the Women's Fund Miami-Dade, which has awarded grants to nearly 500 programs working to improve the lives of local girls and women. "Just really start peeling back the layers both within yourself and what's out there in the community to figure out how you can make that difference."
Where to begin?
If you're passionate about reproductive rights, volunteer with Planned Parenthood of South, East, and North Florida. The organization needs volunteers in two categories: health center advocates who can educate patients and visitors, and speakers who can share their personal reproductive health stories.
"The time for action is now," says Laura Goodhue, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida. "The threats in Congress are very real and coming very fast. We're really encouraged by the support we've seen."
You can also support the Women's Emergency Network, which subsidizes abortions and birth control for low-income women in South Florida, and the like-minded Broward Women's Emergency Fund, which Sterner, the treasurer, says is always in need of more donations.
"I've defended clinics for years, and I thought, My God, it's over," she says. "And all of a sudden, here we go again."
Countless organizations support women's causes in Miami-Dade: YWCA Miami fights for racial justice and women's empowerment; MUJER provides services to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in South Miami-Dade; Girl Power works to build healthy, smart, strong, and active girls; Fanm Ayisyen nan Miyami empowers Haitian women and their families; and the Lodge shelters and counsels victims of domestic and sexual violence.
Sterner has another request: Elect more women. Women in power are the best bulwark against abuse.
After a lifetime as an advocate, she says she's "not going down without a fight." She's been heartened by the Women's March. "I really believe this is the start of our revolution," she says.
Juan Carlos Carabantes remembers the coyotes demanding his group get on the ground every time a car passed; the others hushed him as he cried. Just 4 years old, he was the youngest of five children his mother took across the border from Mexico into the United States in the late '90s. Most of the way, she carried him.
To Carabantes, the journey is a memory that's barely there. He grew up in Homestead, where his dad had spent a year working in the fields to pay for the family's trip. America is his home. Now 21, he has a driver's license and a job and attends Miami Dade College, all because of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, initiated in 2012 by President Barack Obama, whose action allowed undocumented immigrants brought here as children to temporarily avoid deportation.
Carabantes, who dreams of opening his own restaurant, had hoped that it was one step toward eventually gaining citizenship — and that his parents might one day have the same opportunity. But on Election Day, a frightening new reality quickly set in for Carabantes and his clan. "It was just a very bad feeling, kind of like when you realize you're on the top of a roller coaster — that fear that you feel, that's what I felt," he recalls.
Instead of hoping for a future as citizens, the Carabantes family has begun talking about what will happen if Trump rescinds DACA or begins deporting the undocumented. They've talked about how they'll survive if they lose their jobs and have walked through what to do if one of them is deported: videotape the process, have a lawyer ready. And Carabantes has thought about what it would be like to be sent back to Mexico, though all of his memories of the country "look almost dreamlike."
"It's pretty scary to be having those conversations," he says.
From the moment he kicked off his campaign by calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals, Trump hasn't hidden his feelings toward the foreign-born. After only a month, his presidency is already the fever dream of your most racist uncle. In addition to vowing to build his border wall, he's threatened to cut funding from sanctuary cities that help shield undocumented immigrants. Then came the Muslim ban, which sparked pandemonium at airport checkpoints and huge nationwide protests.
Florida is home to 610,000 undocumented immigrants like Carabantes — the fourth most in America — according to the D.C. think tank Migration Policy Institute. About half live in South Florida, with the largest number, an estimated 151,000, in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties.
In other words, Miami could be ground zero for Trump's crackdown. It took only a week for Trump's actions to begin having real consequences in Miami. On January 26, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez ordered county jails to begin cooperating with federal immigration detention requests. The order prompted protests and a lockdown at County Hall. Trump, meanwhile, praised Gimenez in a tweet as "Strong!"
But whether you're an immigrant or an ally, there are ways to fight Trump's anti-immigrant agenda.
The most threatened are those undocumented residents. First things first: If you qualify for citizenship, "file for it, for God's sake," says immigration attorney Joe Lackey, who notes that citizenship is the only 100 percent protection from deportation. Many South American countries don't force their citizens to give up their passports if they become citizens of another country, so there's often nothing to lose. If your DACA protection is near expiring, renew it, says Carabantes, who works with the youth-led immigration group United We Dream.
Lackey suggests renewing your driver's license as well. "The only way the local police officer knows that there may or may not be an immigration issue is when he pulls you over for running a stop sign and you don't have a valid driver's license," he explains. That leads to another tip from Lackey: Try to keep a low profile and avoid driving if possible.
Miami's green-card holders and full citizens can also push back on the crackdown. Florida is stocked with organizations that help undocumented immigrants, including the Florida Immigrant Coalition, Americans for Immigrant Justice, and the state's branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Many accept volunteers and donations.
Nongovernmental organizations such as the International Rescue Committee, World Relief Miami, and Lutheran Services Florida Inc. help resettle refugees in South Florida. These nonprofits need volunteers to assemble welcome kits, teach English, and mentor recent arrivals.
As for direct action, Lackey has a few creative ideas: Know someone undocumented? You can help that person avoid detection by offering a ride. Because the undocumented lack social security numbers, they can't get credit cards and can't sign up for Uber or Lyft. Give them a hand by allowing them to use your credit card number for rideshare apps Uber and Lyft, and have them pay you back in cash. Lackey says this practice has become common. "It's become the new Underground Railroad," he says.
As long as you're messing with the feds, why not clog Immigrations and Customs Enforcement's "illegal alien" tip line? A Twitter campaign has been growing to call 800-BE-ALERT and ramble about your day, your cat, or your best friend's terrible boyfriend.
Much of the hostility toward refugees and immigrants stems from ignorance, advocates say. So when you hear it, speak out. Learn about Islam. Read up on the facts about violent crime and immigration (hint: Influxes of foreign-born residents tend to decrease crime rates in cities). Don't let ignorance go unchallenged.
"When you are out and about and hear people just offhandedly saying things you know aren't true, you have to be willing to step up and say, 'Well, actually, refugees do pay taxes' or 'They work, statistically, more than American-born men,'" says Mac McEachin, a national security policy associate with the International Refugee Assistance Project, "because a lot of the time, all it takes is hearing that from somebody you trust that inspires you to say, 'Hey, maybe I need to re-evaluate what I thought.'"
Bridge the Gap
On an empty plot of land along the once-thriving Grand Avenue, longtime residents of the historically Bahamian enclave of the West Grove set up tents and settled in for the night. They stayed there all through the weekend of November 11, spending their days waving signs reading "Honk 4 housing now" and "Safe housing is a basic human right."
The residents — many of whom have lived in the West Grove for decades — were demonstrating because of climbing rents and crumbling buildings in their close-knit community. Established in the late 1800s by the early Bahamian settlers who helped build Miami, the neighborhood once had shotgun-style houses built by E.W.F. Stirrup, one of the city's first black millionaires.
But the area has long been in decline. Some apartment buildings were razed, leaving lots that sit empty year after year. Others are falling apart, their roofs leaking and caving in. The land, just a few blocks east of CocoWalk, is tantalizing to developers. Residents, who pay $400 to $800 a month in rent, fear it's just a matter of time before they'll be priced out and forced to find housing in one of the nation's toughest markets to rent.
The West Grove is a microcosm of the housing crisis plaguing Miami. In a city where it takes $77,000 a year to live comfortably, the median income is just a little more than $30,000. The Magic City also regularly ranks among the top five cities with the highest gaps between the haves and have-nots.
Those conditions are likely to worsen with a billionaire property developer running our country. Hours after his swearing-in ceremony, Trump blocked an Obama policy that would have reduced the costs of mortgages for first-time homebuyers. Trump's pick for housing secretary is Ben Carson, a neurosurgeon with zero housing experience. Trump's choice for labor secretary is Andy Puzder, the CEO of the company that franchises Hardee's and Carl's Jr., who opposes raising the minimum wage and has talked up replacing fast-food workers with robots.
"I think [Trump] is showing his true colors with the Puzder nomination," says Elizabeth Fernandez, communications director for SEIU Florida, a union that represents 55,000 service workers.
Can individuals really fight a problem as insidious as income inequality? Sure enough. Begin by taking part in "Fight for $15," a national campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. In the Sunshine State, SEIU Florida plans regular rallies, strikes, and other events in support of higher pay for the 52 percent of Floridians who make less than 15 bucks an hour.
See for yourself why change is needed by taking the Minimum Wage Challenge, which shows just how difficult it is to get by on $8.10 an hour. For five days, start with a daily budget of $17 a day for all expenses except housing, car payments, credit card bills, and childcare expenses. Share at least one photo or video a day telling your friends how it went. Let's hope at least one Facebook friend who loves posting about how poor people simply need to "pull themselves up by the bootstraps" will take heed. Use the hashtags #FLfor15 and #Fightfor15, and post a video challenging five friends to try it themselves.
Making it through all five days will not be easy, as Florida Rep. José Javier Rodríguez learned in 2015: After waiting a half-hour for a bus to take him to work, he gave up and got a ride. That was on day two.
"Once you realize how much people are struggling for the basic necessities — people who are sometimes working two to three jobs literally just trying to keep a roof over their heads — you really see the privileges that you have," the SEIU's Fernandez says.
Always tip your servers, whose minimum wage is lower. In Florida, it was raised to $5.08 this year. Miami's economy revolves around those service-industry jobs.
Education is one of the best ways to break the generational cycle of poverty. Studies have found that more than a quarter of children in Miami-Dade County live in poverty. So consider helping by volunteering in schools or in mentoring programs. Advocate for early childhood education. Support groups such as the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe, Boys & Girls Clubs, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Groups combating income inequality such as SEIU, Miami Homes for All, the Miami Workers Center, and Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida can also use help. Or volunteer with Rebuilding Together Miami Dade, which fixes up the homes of low-income seniors, veterans, and the disabled to preserve home ownership.
"I really think it's something that speaks volumes to every person, because a home is where you come at the end of the day," says Ashley Snow, program manager for Rebuilding Together. "And I think anybody can relate to the terror of losing your home because a roof is leaking or it's flooded or a pipe burst."
Fascists Hate Comedy
Adrian Alvarez sat stewing on his couch. The South Florida attorney had just read an article revealing Trump's pick for chief strategist: Steve Bannon, leader of the racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic, xenophobic den of trolls that is Breitbart News. Then a clip from Rogue One flashed across his TV screen.
"You give way to an enemy this evil with this much power, and you condemn the galaxy to an eternity of submission," an impassioned Jyn Erso said. "The time to fight is now!"
The rebels on the screen were inspired — and so was Alvarez. Trump was assembling his evil empire, Alvarez realized, and now was the time to fight!
Soon, Alvarez was Photoshopping Trump's and his cronies' faces onto the visages of villains from the Star Wars universe. Trump was the Emperor; Vice President Mike Pence was Darth Vader (with apologies to Bannon, who dubbed himself the Sith lord in a recent interview with the New York Times); Paul Ryan was Darth Maul (Darth Paul!); Chris Christie was Jabba the Hutt ("That one speaks for itself," Alvarez quipped); Bannon was Boba Fett; Mitch McConnell was Grand Moff Tarkin; and Kellyanne Conway was a stormtrooper. Alvarez, a longtime Star Wars fan and Never Trumper, bought the URL resisttheempire.com and began selling T-shirts, with half the profits going toward groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood.
"The entire story follows people who are rebelling against an evil dictator, basically, and the way that Trump is acting, he's perpetuating what I believe are evil policies," explains Alvarez, an independent who says he has supported both Republicans and Democrats in the past.
It gets exhausting, waking up every morning to the latest angry tweets from the leader of the free world, waiting for your senator to grow a spine (we're looking at you, Marco Rubio), and waging comment wars with pals of Facebook "friends" you don't remember ever knowing. Comedy matters. Plus, it gets under Trump's skin — which makes sense, because there's a long history of resistance through laughter, from Charlie Chaplin's Hitler spoofs to political cartoons and The Colbert Report.
There are plenty of ways to push back while also having a laugh at the expense of Trump and company.
"The more you make fun of him and show him for the cartoon character he is, the more upset he's going to get," Alvarez says. "The more we make fun of him, the more it hits his ego, which is pretty much all he has."
One surefire way to find some relief — and piss off the Donald — is by tuning in to the "unwatchable" Saturday Night Live to see Alec Baldwin's spot-on impressions of our newly crowned president. Follow @HalfOnionInABag, a Twitter account that exists solely to try to collect more followers than @RealDonaldTrump. (As of presstime, Half an Onion had 767,000 followers; Trump had 24.8 million). Take pleasure in others' regrets over voting for Trump by checking out areyousorryyet.com. Be forewarned: Scrolling through people's shock that Trump is doing what he said all along he'd do might make you feel more angry than smug.
Quite a few satirical Twitter accounts have popped up in the aftermath of Trump's election. One, @RealDonalDrumpf, parodies the president via tweets such as, "Many people are saying the easiest way to avoid my Muslim ban is by pretending to be a Christian. It worked for me!" Another, @MatureTrumpTwts, translates the Donald's tweets to make them sound presidential, which, actually, can be a little depressing to read.
One account, @FredTrumpsSon, is run by Frank Houston, a Miami attorney (and former New Times managing editor). In the first dark weeks after the election, Houston canceled his New York Times subscription and got off Facebook. "I could not tolerate the news in really any way, shape, or form," he says. "I was just, like, in mourning." But a few days before the inauguration, he adopted a new approach: Laugh to keep from crying. He thought about blogging but then turned to Twitter.
"It just hit me that a faster, easier way to go about laughing and mocking this whole thing was just to impersonate Trump on Twitter," Houston says. "I mean, take the fight right to him — not that he has any awareness of it, of course. I wish he did, though. I kind of hope he sues me. It's wishful thinking, but wouldn't that be great?"
Then there's Pieces of Trump (not to be confused with Pieces of Shit for Trump, which offers miniature printable "Make America Great Again" signs designed to be planted into, well, shit). Steaming piles of dog poop across Miami Beach are being decorated with offensive quotes from Trump ("You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes. Blood coming out of her — wherever.") thanks to artist Allan Adler's Pieces of Trump. Adler, who uses a pseudonym, has a simple explanation for his project: "I think it was just because I thought he was such a piece of crap."
Sure, following onions on Twitter and defiling dog poop won't change the world. But Houston argues that humor has an important role to play in our national nightmare.
"It's like gallows humor, and without it, it's just incomprehensible on a daily basis," he says. "You could easily just sink into such despair if you just didn't laugh. It's like the human condition: You've got to find humor, or it'll just — it'll kill you."
Vote With Your Wallet
Nothing pisses off Donald Trump like losing a buck. So stay far away from his many business interests — especially because he's refused to divest from them. Luckily, they're easy to identify: He's stamped his name in tacky gold all over just about everything he owns, from Trump Tower to the ill-fated Trump Steaks (RIP).
In South Florida, put your money where your mouth is by steering clear of these places:
• Trump National Doral (if you're a golf fan, don't fret: The PGA Tour announced in June it would move the World Golf Championships to Mexico after 55 years in Doral)
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• Trump International Golf Club, West Palm Beach
• Trump International Golf Club, Jupiter
Beyond Trump's properties, you can also boycott companies that enabled his rise. Nationally, the #GrabYourWallet movement put together a list of more than 40 companies to skip, including NASCAR, whose chairman and CEO, Brian France, appeared with Trump at a rally and endorsed him, saying, "Any of his children, you'd be proud to have them as part of your family," and Yuengling beer, whose founder endorsed Trump.
Then there are the Marlins. In the unlikely chance you're one of the few who attend the team's games, you might want to reconsider. Owner Jeffrey Loria, already hated for robbing taxpayers of billions of dollars in the Marlins Park fiasco, continued his villainous ways by donating $125,000 to the group Trump Victory.