Friday, January 20, 2017

Activism in a "Post-Factual" America


The next four years will be hard for this country. Our rights will be hacked at with ice picks, machetes, toothpicks that introduce cracks in the foundation. It is Day 1 and the White House's climate change webpage has already disappeared, along with the LGBT, civil rights, and ACA pages. Trouble is not brewing; trouble is here.

So what can we do about it? Groundwork has some great starting points on their site, and I listed a few details more below.

Artist Haley Gilmore

Educate yourself.
What issues matter to you? Learn about them. What issues matter to others? Learn, and then fight for those too. "A healthy society is one in which those at the center scream in agony when those furthest away are cut."

Make calls.
Phone calls are the most effective method of contacting elected officials. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to call on a regular basis. Keep your senators' contact info bookmarked (or on speed dial) so you don't have to look them up every time. Take 10 minutes out of your lunch break, one day a week, and pick an issue. If you're nervous about what to say once you call, write out one or two sentences. That's all you need. Remember to be polite and make a connection with the person on the phone if you can - making a good impression means the staffer is more likely to discuss your call with others.

When organized, civil protests happen, take part. If one isn't organized and should be, make it happen. Be safe and put everything through legal channels, but remember that change doesn't happen through armchair activism alone. This is going to take some hard work.

Pick an issue and get involved. The issue I've chosen is women's rights, and I've joined the National Organization for Women. It's easier to join up with others who are already working on issues than to start from square one, so grab your friends and get involved.

Not everyone has time available to spend, so reach out to the groups that will suffer most in the upcoming years. See the list I've assembled here. You can also donate to organizations in your city/state, such as women's rights groups and domestic violence shelters.

Support political candidates.
If you don't know of a rock star in office right now, research, find one, and back them up. Learn about up-and-coming candidates for local or state offices whose policies you admire. Vocalize your support through phone calls, letters, guidance about what kind of world you want to see, etc. We need to start putting more progressives in office yesterday. 

Run for office.
This doesn't have to be a senate position. You can start at a neighborhood level. Get into your neighborhood association. Teach them why it's so important for us to all stick together, why supporting rights for those who are different from us will keep our own rights in place. 

Send letters to people. Sure, signing petitions online can have some impact, but you can better effect change by putting things into your own words and sharing your own experiences. If repealing the ACA will personally affect you, tell your senator why. . 

Reach out.
We need to contact more than just our elected officials. The only way we survive this new administration is together. Step out of your comfort zone. Make friends with those who are different from you. Learn about things that you never realized were under threat. Be a support to those around you so that if we should need help from one another, we all have someone to turn to and know what others need. This post is from shortly after the election, but is still mind-opening and relevant.

You'll probably make mistakes here and there. That's okay; I will too. You might stick your foot in your mouth sometimes. That's okay, you'll survive. But if we don't speak out, some people might not.

If you have other suggestions that I can add to this list, please share. 

Artist Micah Bazant

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