Sustaining

If you are riding a fulfilling high after the marches, there are several ways you can sustain that feeling in the coming months and years. Here are some ideas off the top of my head.

(As a reminder, social movements have several different audiences/goals. They may work for political change, cultural change, and personal change. The ideas below are a mix of how to work towards each of these types of change.)

– Write/call/email your representatives (local, state, and federal congress people, governors, etc.) about your thoughts on ACA, DACA, climate change, funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, funding for domestic violence services, reservations about current nominees for cabinet positions, and on and on.

– Start a reading group with one of the many book lists floating around out there regarding how to survive the next 4 years. Talk. Think. Ask questions. Engage in respectful debate. (one example: http://remezcla.com/lists/culture/stop-trump-reading-list/)

– If you are a cis white woman, check your privilege. We have a long legacy of voting/aligning ourselves with our race (and against our gender) in order to try to reap the benefits of being cis-white-male-adjacent. We must recognize/atone for how white women have worked against intersectional feminism in the past. Period. We must also follow the lead of women of color/trans* women/women with disabilities/queer women/poor women/etc. contemporarily. White women, we played a central role in electing Trump. Stop talking. Listen. As Sam Bee put it, “Don’t try to distance yourselves from the ‘bad apples’ and say, ‘it’s not my fault, I didn’t vote for him! If Muslims have to take responsibility for every member of their community, so do we… We got some karma to work off.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1SaD-gSZO4&feature=youtu.be)

– Talk to folks with whom you fundamentally disagree. As Michelle Obama put it, “Today, I want to suggest that if you truly wish to carry on the Oberlin legacy of service and social justice, then you need to run to, and not away from, the noise. Today, I want to urge you to actively seek out the most contentious, polarized, gridlocked places you can find. Because so often, throughout our history, those have been the places where progress really happens – the places where minds are changed, lives transformed, where our great American story unfolds.” (https://youtu.be/zNLU_FUEEP8) For info on how to approach these conversations, see here: http://www.vox.com/identities/2016/11/15/13595508/racism-trump-research-study

– Never, ever, ever resort to ad hominem attacks. They are evidence of a weak mind. To quote Michelle Obama again, “When they go low, we go high.”

– Join/donate to an organization: ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Rainforest Action Network, NAACP, SisterLove, Black Girl Dangerous, Bitch Media, MANA, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Trans Lifeline, Southerners on New Ground, Echoing Ida, Project NIA, American Indian Policy Center, etc. Find local organizations with which you can get involved. Don’t just donate $10 to a national organization and call yourself an activist.

– If you are already a member of an organization, form coalitions! Envision green groups and women’s groups and disabilities groups and POC groups and religious groups and civil rights groups all working together for equity and inclusion. Research tells us that coalitions are powerful. Reach out to others and offer to help their organizations work towards their goals.

-Similarly, remember that the most successful social movements are the ones that work both within and outside of institutional politics simultaneously. Attorneys, lobbyists, everyday citizens, and extralegal activists work best when they work in conjunction with each other to meet their goals.

– If you are a student, talk to your professors/departments/programs/student organizations about bringing speakers/hosting events on campus. Often, there is funding to support these events – seek out info on how to make it happen.

– Write op-eds for your newspaper. Write notes of support to your allies. Write to formulate your thoughts. Write to decompress.

– Resist “alternative facts” and fake news by reading/sharing verified news reports and peer-reviewed science. Investigate sources of information. Don’t believe everything that you read/hear/think.

– Engage in self-care! Sleep, nourish, exercise, do whatever you do to center yourself.

– Never become complacent. Never give up.

– Add more ideas to this list!

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