These first few weeks have been devastating to U.S. civil rights. Those of us who believe in freedom for all are certainly under attack. As my friend, colleague, and partner in crime, Stephany Rose reminded me recently after she marched on Washington and visited the Holocaust Museum: It only took Hitler 6 months to become Hitler… Well, we are well on our way, folks.
In light of this horrific turn of events, how will we make sense of our situation? Will we live in fear of what’s next? Will we become so overwhelmed by the administration’s audacity to challenge our fundamental values that we become apoplectic, or worse, apathetic? Immobilized?
I have chosen instead to intentionally focus on the recent groundswell of activism I have witnessed. From the millions of people all over the world who marched for Women’s Rights to the overflowing meeting spaces in every single social justice community event I have attended since November.
Everywhere I go, people are asking the same questions, “What can we do to take action?” “How can I get involved?” More and more previously disengaged folks are realizing they can no longer stand by and watch; they are waking up to the reality that it will take all of us to create the change we wish to see.
Here are a few suggestions of what you can do:
1. Seek out and attend community events in your neighborhood/area. Never before have I seen so many protests and community meetings happening. My calendar is literally filled with community meetings of people getting together to create change. Set a goal of going to one a week or even one a month! This not only can make you feel empowered by actually doing something, but also will put you in the same room with others who feel as concerned as you do. Sharing space creates community!
2. Send postcards to your members of congress. Let them know what you care about. Educate them on some facts (not “alternative facts”) about whatever right or privilege you want to preserve, or whatever change you want them to make. Host a pizza and postcards party where you and your friends/neighbors get together to fill out postcards. Again, sharing space (and food) creates community!
3. Host an educational party for friends/neighbors on a topic you feel strongly about. Show a clip from a documentary on climate change/environmental justice, and facilitate a discussion, for example. Create some community guidelines so everyone interacts respectfully. If you haven’t heard… sharing space creates community!
4. Attend a protest/rally for an issue you believe strongly in: Black Lives Matter, Muslim Rights, LGBTQ Rights, Women’s Rights, etc. Be sure you are standing up – the higher the attendance at every rally, the more momentum this movement gains. And again… sharing space creates community!
5. Teach the young people in your lives the importance of, and how to show up. We must build a future of activists who know how to use their voices and their bodies to show up, stand up, and yes, create community.
This work is difficult to do even in community, but it is impossible to do alone. We are not helpless. We can reach out to others. We can work together. We can build momentum. We can empower ourselves, and empower each other. Let’s do this!