activism

How will we fight

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So I’m going to be honest with you. Election night for me went a little bit like this – I got drunk and cried at a bar with a bunch of friends, emailed saying I wasn’t coming into work the next day, and proceeded to have a pity party for myself and how this result was going to affect my white privileged life. Not my most shining moment, but it was real. I feel like I felt my feelings and that’s okay.

The next day (after I slept off my hangover) I went into self-care mode. Watched the series finale of Buffy (helpful inspiration – we will triumph over evil again and again, etc – and I am in desperate need of a pep talk by Joss Whedon btw), hardly went on Facebook, took a walk and called my mom and asked what she did when things were this bad – the civil rights era? The Bush era? What should we do?

What should we do? That was all I kept thinking. I was sober and ready to think of the more important problems – how we will protect people of color, Muslims, immigrants, LGBTQ+ communities…

I kept saying to myself: “This is only day 1.”

“This is only day 4.”

“This is only day 10.”

We will strategize, organize, talk to each other, try things and try other things instead – we will figure out the best way to fight for our values and we will do it for as long as we need to.

My mom said she wants Trump to hear an enormous outcry every time he does something that goes against our values, and I agree. I want to flood the right places with calls. I want to have huge marches. I want to give them hell.

But it is only the beginning. For now, I am looking for sustainable ways to incorporate fighting back and engaging in my community into my life, and learning about what works, how I can play on my strengths, and how to use my family and friends as resources.

At the end of week 2 of this weird apocalyptic reality we’ve been handed, here’s what I’ve come up with:

Green Initiatives 

For my personal cabinet for the next four years, I have appointed my BFF Emily as my Chief Green Initiatives Commissioner & Hippie Consultant. She has done hours and hours of research on all things green and environmentally friendly. I call her whenever I need to check what’s killing me in my house: “Is soy still a thing? I heard that candles are bad now? What should I clean my sink with?” I love having her on speed dial – she is all-knowing and wise.

I’ve already been using cloth napkins and coconut oil for a while now, and switched to a menstrual cup a couple years back to cut back on waste. I’ve also wrapped my Christmas gifts in brown paper bags, and plan on doing so again this year. But I wanted to take more steps since Trump doesn’t believe global warming is a thing and will fuck up our progress on trying to save the planet.

So far, I have switched over to 100% renewable energy for our apartment. It was only going to be a couple of extra bucks a month, and now we are supporting clean energy just from a couple clicks on our energy provider’s website. Take a look at the website of your provider and see if they have a renewable energy program – it literally took me 2 minutes to make the change, and it’s something that could make a big difference if more people join in.

Here’s my list for the other things I want to do to do my part:

  • Make my own household cleaners
  • Get refillable containers and get common items in bulk to reduce package waste
  • Switch to beeswax candles (nontoxic and purifies the air!)
  • Use essential oils + coconut oil instead of scented wax for my wax melt air freshener
  • Watch Before the Flood

Have more ideas? Tell me in the comments!

Get Involved

In addition to Emily, I have added a couple of friends and my sister to my Bad Ass Bitches Feminist Collective Committee. Texting, ranting over drinks, sharing articles – they are my powerful tribe of intelligent AF and brave women who inspire me to do more in the world. With ideas from them and encouragement, here is what I have tried so far to be more involved in my community.

I attended a peaceful protest in my city and marched to protest hate and promote diversity and love. I follow a local group that organizes these events on social media, and I’m hoping to attend more. There is a women’s march in LA in January that I also want to attend. I believe protesting is helpful and meaningful, and found this article to be helpful in explaining that position, in case you’re interested.

I also found this app that compiles locations of safe and/or unisex restrooms for trans, intersex, and gender nonconforming individuals – add bathrooms in your area when you see them so people can pee where they feel safe!

I’ve also called my local representative for the first time in my life, and I’m going to make it a habit. The staffer was so so nice, and I want to just keep the pressure on for my reps to take a vocal stand against all of the very wrong things that are already happening in our government.

I sent an email today to my loved ones that may be shopping for Christmas soon, and asked that they consider using the money they might spend on me to instead donate to organizations I care about (I included links to Black Lives Matter, my local NPR station, the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and my local LGBTQ+ organization). I’m not sure how I will donate yet and where, since money is a little tight, so I felt like that was something I could do in the meantime.

Next on the list:

  • Find the best ways to keep track of local town hall meetings and other events
  • Gather ideas of sustainable ways I can help local organizations further their causes
  • Find good sources for local government news to stay informed

What have you found that’s effective when engaging locally?

Don’t back down

The biggest urge I had on election night was to not listen to the news for four years. The idea that I’ll have to listen to that man’s voice, as the representative of the voice of our country… I just couldn’t. I wanted to hide. I couldn’t imagine getting more bad news day after day, hearing him spew hate and being allowed to do it while holding the highest office in our country.

But that would be the most privileged and unhelpful thing I could do. I would be trying desperately to ignore the things I am lucky enough to have the option to ignore, and try to force this new fucked up arena into the “normal life” category. Nope. We have to stay informed. We have to stay angry. That’s what will fuel us. We can’t hide for four years, or move to Canada, or try to get California to secede – those things aren’t helpful. We need to stay and fight for those who need our help and protection.

It’s going to suck. But not as much as it will suck for our LGBTQ+, POC, and Muslim neighbors. We need to fight as hard as we can for them – this is our mess, and we need to clean it up and stand up with the resources we are lucky enough to have.

So that’s what I will try and do. And I don’t want this post to come off as self-congratulatory – I really just want to share ideas. What has worked for you? What have you tried that actually doesn’t work? What do you think I can do to help more?

Here is another helpful list of things we can do to help if you want more!

We need to keep talking, keep reminding ourselves that this isn’t normal, and keep the fire to fight stoked and ready. I’m loving all the thoughtful conversations on social media and off and I know we can all come together to do something to help.

<3

 

 

White Guilt

 

I was in college, in a multicultural psychology class when I almost started crying in front of everyone when my professor pushed me to elaborate. After stuttering out some confused emotions, she said “What you are feeling is white guilt.”

*Sniff* “Ya.”

Just a few weeks later, I fought with a white male engineer friend about whether he should be able to say the n word without a backlash. He was convinced that it was “just a word” and he shouldn’t be penalized for using it. Not that he was throwing it around everywhere he went, but it’s not a huge deal anymore. Black people use it. It’s just a word. It’s not like he’s racist or anything.

When I made a comment just a year or so ago about how expensive Disneyland has become, one person said “Well, I think that’s how they keep the riff-raff out.”

(Note: who says riff-raff. Seriously.)

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I can think of other moments where I encountered these racist comments and opinions among my mainly all white groups of friends that I have had throughout the years. These moments are notable because I rarely need to think about race, and my white friends and colleagues hardly talk about it. That’s white privilege. I choose when to think about this toxic part of our world that is sewn into every aspect of our society. I’m not forced to think about it daily and deal with rage and injustice and feeling less than human.

I still encounter these moments, where someone says something so offensive, but in such a casual way that you think they must not know what they’re saying. You thought you knew where they stood- they’ve made comments to you about LGBT rights or global warming. You saw them as someone you relate to. And yet, they start a completely offensive story with “I’m not racist, but…”

When the Baltimore riots were happening, I heard a lot from the people around me about what they thought the rioters should be doing instead. Or what the people who were enraged about young black men and women being murdered on a regular basis by our justice system should do about their feelings. A lot of opinions on what “they” should do. How they should act and react. What about white people? What are we doing about it? It’s not someone else’s problem.

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I have always lived along the coast of California (my life is hard) and I am used to a liberal political landscape. But I have realized that in these all-white towns, liberalism only goes so far. “I voted for Obama, but seriously this neighborhood is starting to feel sketchy now that there are all these weird markets and mexican food places around.” I run into that type of crap way too often. And I might be wrong, but this kind of passive racism seems more dangerous than the overt, uneducated, hateful and obviously-wrong-to-everyone racism we see from time to time.

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The white people in my town see confederate flags or swastikas and shake their heads. “How can people be so dumb?” They are not racist, because they had a black friend once. They voted for Obama. But then they don’t see police shooting black Americans as their problem – and also, poor cops, right? They are getting such a bad rap with this stuff.

What makes me different? Nothing. What makes me not racist? What makes me not part of the problem, but part of the solution? That’s what I am trying to figure out.

I have wanted to be an ally for minorities for a long time, but never knew how. I post articles that shock me on Facebook, because maybe they will shock others as well, and help spread awareness. I try to stay informed. I have the privilege to have these horrifying truths never cross my path if I wanted to avoid them. So I try to spread the word to others who might never hear the news otherwise.

I find it easy to discuss sexism and homophobia with the people I encounter. I find it easy to find people who feel the same about LGBT rights in my community. Feminists are a little less common, but I have learned how to call people out and bring up sexism relatively easily. I am comfortable defending feminism, even if it makes people feel uncomfortable. I feel like a terrible person when I say that I can’t discuss racism with the same ease. I am adamantly anti-racist and want to be an ally for minority groups in our country who still cannot find basic justices after hundreds of years of horrifying oppression. But I hear someone say something racist and…

I freeze.

“I’m not racist, but…”

After I leave that encounter I think of a thousand things I should have said.

“I’m going to stop you there, because whatever you are going to say after that disclaimer is probably awful.”

“Wait – I bet you $50 what you are about to say is actually racist. Sorry to interrupt, I just really like gambling.”

“No no no no no no no” *runs away*

…See? Not very good at it, even after analyzing it after the moment has past. I just want to do something different than go silent and look like a deer in the headlights. And then everyone keeps talking like nothing awful just happened. We shouldn’t be okay with this.

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Two things happened recently that really made me feel like I needed to start examining this more closely – with the people around me and in my own patterns.

1. Gay marriage was declared legal in all 50 states.

2. Someone started an awful story with “I’m not racist, but…” (again.)

I was thrilled when I heard about the supreme court decision. But it was bittersweet. No one should have to live with injustice, no matter how short or long the duration – but it was sad to me that LGBT individuals saw so much progress, while the state of race relations in our country is archaic to say the least. I celebrated, don’t get me wrong. LGBT rights are still not even close to fully realized, and so many groups worked so hard and waited for so long to see this kind of progress.

I just wish I could celebrate something like that for racial minorities in this country.

But every time I listen to the news or look online, I am disgusted at how little we have achieved. So I am trying to figure out what I can do. I don’t want to be a part of the problem. I don’t want to live in blissful ignorance because of my privilege.

I don’t want to be part of the problem. I want to help.

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What do you think white people can do to become allies and try to make positive change? If you are an ally, do you have any experiences to share?

I do have some articles that I have found super helpful when learning more about my white privilege and race in the US and some things that have been in the news lately. Check them out if you want to learn more:

What’s wrong with cultural appropriation?

The video of Sandra Bland’s arrest before her suspicious death

A story of injustice and prison

7 ways our justice system is racially skewed

When to take a stand – and when to let it go

I, Racist

Understanding white privilege 

 

 

 

*Click on images for source*

 

 

 

 

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