feature image via Susan Watts/NY Daily News
Welcome to Be The Change, a series on grassroots activism, community organizing, and the fundamentals of fighting for justice. Primarily instructional and sometimes theoretical, this series creates space to share tips, learn skills, and discuss “walking the walk” as intersectional queer feminists.
In the hours and days after Election Night, many of us turned to social media to find and support each other and to process our grief. Almost immediately, I began seeing people declaring that this is the time to organize and fight back. Absolutely, yes. It’s vital to our collective survival that we grow our movements to fight back against a Trump/Pence presidency.
However, I, like many, was in a dark post-election trauma fog. I was cycling between rage, depression, anxiety, and helplessness. Saturday was the first day I didn’t cry first thing upon waking up. I’m still a mess overall, but today, I’m ready to think about fighting back and organizing for change. Wednesday, I wasn’t there yet.
Many folks at the intersections of identities and communities who are under attack in the new and terrifying Trump-era are still trying just to breathe and to, quite literally, live. Many were already dealing with harassment and bigotry and fear and the ramifications of this election are further impacting everyday safety and survival. It’s OK to not be ready to organize or to not want to do so at all. As Audre Lorde famously said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”
If you are ready to mobilize and take action today, please do it! We need your words, dollars, support, ideas, brains, bodies, and time! If you’re not ready today, this information is here when and if you need it. Do what feels good and right to you. Maybe that’s going to a rally or taking a leadership role in your community. Maybe making a donation or connecting via social media is more your thing. There are lots of ways to engage in activist work, both in person and from your home, and we need every one of you.
Take care of yourself and your communities first and foremost, OK? I love and support you!
Welcome to Be the Change. We’re kicking off this series on grassroots activism and organizing today, though it’s been months in the making. It feels especially relevant in this nightmarish political and cultural shitshow that is the U.S. preparing to survive a Trump regime. I was originally going to write the first post about how to become a community organizer and different types of organizing, but it feels more important to start a discussion about what we can do as activists, right now in this moment, in the wake of the apocalypse/election.
Firstly, in addition to your local anti-Trump protests and rallies, make your plans for the Trump inauguration protest in D.C. on January 21st, the Women’s March on Washington. In the meantime, here are some things you can do this week.
1. Volunteer Where You Live
Whatever issue is most important to you, now is the time to volunteer your time and talent, to find a way to show up for the causes you care most about. Whether it’s volunteering at a food bank or as a clinic escort or with your local youth group or with a crisis hotline, every bit of good we put out into the world right now helps.
Some Places to Start:
- Planned Parenthood: Become a clinic escort at your local Planned Parenthood affiliate or sign up for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund here.
- Helpers Initiative: Sign up for the Helpers Initiative to be matched with someone who needs support, launched by Straddler and queer film director, Keely Weiss.
- Volunteer Match: Find all sorts of volunteer opportunities with nonprofits in your area. Or really just call up the local organization of your choice and see if there are opportunities to get involved.
- Help Elect a Local Candidate: Call your local party headquarters and see how you can help. Local elections in 2017 won’t be as glamorous, but they’ll have a huge impact on your community. Sign up to help out with phonebanking, canvassing, and getting out the vote next year.
2. Donate Funds or Time
If you have the spare funds, money is always scarce for grassroots movements and organizations. If you’re an ally to a group, often the best and most impactful thing you can do is help fund the work that directly impacted people are doing in their own communities. Even $1 helps and you can feel good about putting your money where your mouth is. If you don’t have the funds, donating things like rides, professional services, etc. can also be helpful.
Some Places to Start:
- Help a Trans Person: Donate to help a trans person who may not be able to access proper ID documents, medical care, or medicine after January 20th. Gifts of financial or non-financial support, as well as support from licensed health professionals accepted.
- Trans Lifeline: Give to Trans Lifeline, whose lines are being overwhelmed right now. They could really use your support!
- Subscribe to Your Rights: Ali dedicated last week’s Queer Your Tech to an excellent list of orgs accepting recurring monthly donations.
- Donate to a Nonprofit or Activist Group: There are a couple lists of organizations and groups you can donate to or contact at the end of this post.
3. Share and RT for Justice
Amplify the voices of individuals and activist organizations by following them on social media and sharing their campaigns, stories, and work. It may not seem like much, but social media is a powerful tool for organizing. Case in point, the Trump campaign used Twitter to recruit and rally the grossest corner of the white supremacist internet. However, social media can be used for good, too. #BlackLivesMatter became a national movement with a hashtag. Join in tweet-ups and social media campaigns. If engaging as an ally, RT and spread the work of folks doing the work.
Some Places to Start:
- #MomentofTruth: Hollaback! launched the #momentoftruth campaign to collect and share stories from people who are witnessing a rise in hate in their own lives in the wake of this election. Share, read, RT, amplify.
- #WeWontGoBack: Join Planned Parenthood in sending the message “that you reject hate and refuse to let the next president roll back the rights we’ve fought so hard to secure.”
- #NotMyPresident: Follow and RT protests around the world under the #NotMyPresident hashtag. Join in person if you can and virtually if you can’t.
4. Create Space for Community Care
Whether online or IRL, check in with your friends, especially those likely to be targeted with violence and harassment. Self-care is important, but it’s also hard to do when you feel isolated and alone. Call your friends. Invite them over for a movie night. Host a potluck or brunch. Go to the movies. Send them texts and messages that you have their back. Learn about issues others in your community may face. Be a resource. Hug each other, virtually if necessary and IRL if possible. Share information. Send love notes.
Some Places to Start:
- Wear a Safety Pin: Some people are wearing a safety pin to show you’re in solidarity with Muslims, immigrants, POC, and all those exposed to violence after the election. Remember that a safety pin on its own can’t keep people safe; think about ways to demonstrate concrete solidarity and stand up for people in tense or uncomfortable moments as well.
- Learn About Bystander Intervention:Start with How You Can Intervene When Witnessing Racist Assaults
by United Against Racism and What to Do If You Are Witnessing Islamophobic Harassment by maeril.tumblr.com
- Oh Shit Guide: This is a living document with info on reproductive health, healthcare, housing, food access, safety, legal issues, etc. Share it and read it.
- Concrete Suggestions in Preparation for January 2017’s change in American Government: The is a living document with loads of info about LGBT issues, immigration issues, disability issues, civil rights issues, and criminal justice issues that are cause for concern under Trump’s leadership, and ways to support as an ally (in English and Spanish). Read and share.
- OH CRAP! WHAT NOW? SURVIVAL GUIDE: Another collaborative guide to health, digital security, money, food access, legal issues, self-defense, and other important matters of survival a.k.a. “Planning for a Trump Administration When You’re Not A Straight Rich White Dude”. Check out the TL:DR Things to Do Now Checklist.
- Create a Local Resource List/Network: Share and/or create a list of resources in your community for healthcare, legal aid, food access, LGBT issues, nonprofits, activist groups, etc. Create a local network for people to offer and find local support like rides, food, a couch to crash on, etc. from each other. It can be as simple as a secret Facebook group or a shareable Google Doc.
5. Educate Yourself
Spend meaningful time learning about intersectional social justice issues and histories. The internet and the library are treasure troves of self-learning.
Some Places to Start:
- Colorlines: Race, culture, and organizing
- Black Girl Dangerous: Amplifying the voices of queer & trans people of color
- The Root: Black news, opinions, politics and culture
- Annie Lainey’s Queer & Disabled Series
- The Queer Muslim Project
- The Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project
More Resources, Orgs to Support, Places to Make Change or Give Change:
- Ways to Organize for Activists by ShiShi Rose
- What Can I Give? What Do I Need? by Solidarity Houston
- The Official #GrabYourWallet Boycott List of Companies that Do Business with and/or Back the Trump Family
- Support black-owned businesses by shopping via Support Black Owned (SBO), a “free Black and African American owned business directory and blog filled with thousands of Black, Moorish, and African American owned businesses and members spread all over the world.”
- Surveillance Self-Defense for Activists and Protestors from the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- Stand with Standing Rock by making a donation to the Legal Fund for Defenders.
- A List of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry Organizations That Need Your Support by Jezebel
- National & International Orgs to Join & Donate to if yr Scared (created and shared by a Straddler)
National Groups with Local Actions and Chapters
See if there’s a local group you can join or volunteer for:
- American Civil Liberties Union
- Black Lives Matter
- Planned Parenthood Action Fund
- Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURG)
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
Have other resources, ideas, or feedback? Share them in the comments and I’ll update this list as appropriate. Also, tell me what you’re doing, what you can commit to today or in the future, to support your communities and stand up to Trump.