Many of us thought 2016 was a bad year and we were not sad to see it go. But 2017 doesn’t look so good either. For many of us, the election results were soul crushing, not because the Republicans won, but because of who is in the White House, and what they stand for. This time around we had an unprecedented election, but it is turning out to also be an unprecedented presidency as well (anyone out there who still thinks ‘it might not be so bad’?).
What gives hope though, is seeing and hearing about protests taking place around the US and really, around the world. Not just about the huge crowds you may see coverage of on TV, but small protest as well (example: New Yorkers Rediscover Activism in the Trump Presidency Era)
Honesty first here: I have never been an activist. I have often spoken and gotten angry about injustices and shit going on around the world, but only inside my four walls, and maybe, rarely, with closest friends I knew shared my values and views. Not even during the war that spun my country into chaos, that broke families apart and made friends shoot at each other, just because they were not of same nationality or religion (I am talking about the war in the Balkans in 1990s).
This is not ‘normal times’. We can’t just sit and think someone else is going to fight for us. “Our slow slide into complacency needs to come to an end. We all must become activists, recognizing the strength of one in developing the power of many.” (Activism 2017 from AAUP) ****The strength of one.**** I am sure there are many of you who feel, like I do (even now, as I am waiting this) – what can I do on my own? I am just a mom who takes her kids to million activities, organizes birthday parties and does laundry (ok, it’s not that bad). But if we organize, then we get the strength of many. The power to get our voices heard and make changes.
If you are lost, as I am honestly, as to how to do this activism thing, I have compiled a list below to help us on this journey. Helps us find where we can make the most difference:
- Self Reflect: whether you are dong online or offline activism, look to yourself and see how much time you can devote to activism and how you can contribute.
- Find your cause: focus. There seem to be so many issues, especially with this new administration, you might want to protest, but there is no way you can cover everything. So focus on an issue that’s close to you, that you are most passionate about.
- Know your talents: you don’t have to be a lawyer to be able to help. See what your strengths/talent are and how you can apply them to your cause.
- Make connections and seek out mentors: find out who else is passionate about your cause. Are there any organizations working on those issues? Learn about what they do and how they do it. If you plan to do any kind of organizing, look for people who have experience and ask for help. Find a support network.
- Become an expert: whatever issue you are fighting for is, learn anything and everything about it. You have to know the history, the current situation, and have all the facts so you can explain your position to like minded people, but also to those who might not be supporting you.
- Hold a fundraiser: that one is self explanatory.
- Talk about your issues daily: march, go out and hold signs, talk to people, let your voice be heard on social media, blogs. Do all, or those you feel comfortable with, but do it daily.
- Keep going: be careful not to burn out, take a break. On the days you feel less inspired, find materials that will inspire you (TED talks?) and maybe be point you in a new direction. But keep going.