Notes from the Resistance, pt. 1

TL;DR– If you read nothing else in this post, just please, please VOTE in any and all local elections and upcoming elections. That is the best recommendation I can give you for how to resist. Los Angeles has an election coming up on March 7th. The LA Times always has recommendations, but do some research. Maybe skip the time you’d spend calling representatives and do some ballot research instead. Or do both. Every election from now on is going to be hugely important. Change happens from the ground up. This is probably the least sexy, least instagramable approach to the resistance, but it is necessary.

(If you read all the way to the end of this post, you’ll be rewarded with two excellent videos about the resistance that made me smile.)

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Well. Here we are in this American trash fire. It is day 31 of the resistance {inauguration day being day 0}, and so many awful, frightening things have already happened. To be fair, awful things have been happening from the moment Europeans brought their boats over here and started murdering indigenous people in 1492, so for a lot of folks this particular kind of awful, the kind of awful 45 has imposed on us since he began to have any kind of larger public platform, isn’t at all new. But we are indisputably entering a new era under this administration, and the country looks a lot different today than it did a year ago.

I find myself every day trying to determine the best form of resistance under this fascist regime, and I’m realizing it doesn’t look all that different from the social justice and anti-racist work many of us have been trying to do for a long time. The good news is, that means folks already have a toolbox out of which to draw inspiration for these new fights. The even better news is, the internet makes it possible to share all those tools and resources and ideas, and that’s the point of this post.

I have seen a ton of posts going around about What We Can Do Now, and I find them super helpful, but also sometimes overwhelming. I’m going to add my voice to that choir because a lot of friends have asked me which of those posts are most useful, and the answer is, whichever ones get you to actually take action. Truly. I do not believe in a singular form of activism. Everyone has different skills, different schedules, different time commitments, and different issues of interest. Someone like me who is on fellowship and has 24 hours a day to devote to this work will resist differently than someone who works 9am to 5pm and has two kids at home and needs to sleep and take care of themselves and others. Someone who is differently abled or lives with mental illness will resist differently. So I think the best advice I can give is:

  1. The most effective thing you can do to resist is whatever thing will keep you active in the fight. If calling senators is just making you feel oppressed and terrified, then that’s not the most effective form of activism. Not for you at least. Play to your skills.
  2. Don’t judge other peoples’ activism. You don’t know what they’re doing with their life. That doesn’t mean you can’t encourage people to do more. If someone went to the Women’s March for the insta-opportunity but never goes to another protest, criticizes other protests, or just avoids the resistance in general, then yeah, maybe have a chat with that person. But know there is more than one path in this fight.
  3. Bookmark the sites and resources that are useful to you so that you can go back to them in your own time.
  4. Take time for yourself, but don’t let self-care become an excuse not to fight. You and only you know when you actually need to take care of yourself and when you’re making excuses. Be honest with yourself. People always putting themselves first is part of what got us into this mess in the first place. It’s not the same thing, exactly, but when you feel like putting down your sword in the name of self-care, ask yourself who is in a more vulnerable position than you in this country, and hopefully that will help you summon the strength to fight for them.

There are some excellent resources for telling you where to direct your energy in terms of Calls To Action:

  • The 65 is a website with weekly calls to action and plenty of scripts to use when calling your senators & representatives about a variety of issues.
  • 5 Calls tells you who to call and what to say, and it even lets you log your calls and the results of those calls (unavailable, left voicemail, made contact).
  • 10 Actions/100 Days is the calls to action presented by the organizers of the Women’s March. The first action was sending postcards. The most recent action is something called the Huddle. Check out their website for more details and to receive future actions.
  • Jennifer Hofmann’s Weekly Action Checklist is a google doc updated each week with extensive resources and calls to action. You can sign up for those to be sent to you by email, or just look at her website (with archives) whenever you’re feeling active.
  • Swing Left, my FAVORITE, tells you where your closest swing district is so that you can devote energy to converting those swing voters into democratic voters for the 2018 elections so we can regain control of the House of Representatives. This is huge. You can give them your email and they’ll send you info on how to fight to turn the House blue again in 2018.
  • Flippable, similar to Swing Left, is focused on putting democrats in office in upcoming elections and has all kinds of info about how you can help.
  • Town Hall Project shows you where your town hall meetings are. Even better than showing up to a protest is showing up to one of these.

There are also some great resources that Educate You About The Issues on which you’re taking all this action:

  • Countable keeps you apprised of issues you care about, informs you how your congresspeople and congress in general vote on said issues, and allows you to engage with other users. It’s like THE political social media network, but it’s highly educational and well organized. There is an app for your phone that is great.
  • MegaVote helps you track how your congresspeople are voting each week.
  • Electoral Vote is a website I read every single day.

In addition to these more specific resources, there are larger, more general resources that provide information on How To Resist in all kinds of ways (micro to macro), how we got here, where we’re going, etc.

  • This Resister’s Guide from Harper’s.
  • The Resistance Manual, which is a wiki-style repository of all the information you might ever possibly need to fight in the resistance. I cannot even say enough about how extensive and incredible this resource is.

I spent the first week of 45’s presidency protesting nearly every single day, and let me tell you, protests fucking work. But don’t just take my word for it. There are many scholars who have written about the effectiveness of Protests. Here are some lists of upcoming protests in case you feel ready to use your body as your voice:

In terms of media, I have to tell you, my all time favorite thing right now is the Pod Save America podcast, hosted by former aides to President Obama. You know I am not the kind of person to endorse anything that involves a bunch of white dudes sitting around and talking to each other. That’s how serious I am about this podcast. I listened to it for two days straight while driving from Colorado back to Los Angeles. It is entertaining, educational, and essential to understanding just what is going on every week in the dumpster that is this administration.

Additionally, here are some Specific Issue-Oriented Resources for you to check out.

  • The NY Times did an informative piece on all the ways to help refugees.
  • Here’s a helpful resource about knowing your rights with ICE. My students and I distributed these fliers in my predominately Latinx neighborhood right after the election, and today I nailed laminated, color copies of these fliers to walls and telephone poles on my street so they can better withstand the weather.

Notes from the field–

I was in D.C. for the Women’s March and it was profound and powerful. It was also complicated. I did a lot of reading around inclusion and exclusion and how to move forward in a way that centers women of color and trans women whose rights are always more under threat than the rights of cis white women. I had a friend ask me some questions about these issues, and that resulted in my friend inviting a bunch of cis white women to my New York apartment so I could have a conversation with them about how to resist in a way that is intersectional and supports ALL women and all marginalized communities. It was a hard conversation.

Talking about identity is painful and difficult, which is probably why so many folks are unapologetically dismissive of “identity politics.” But I hate to break it to you: we are all composed of our respective identities. We are inseparable from those identities. And the sooner we can see and talk about the way that informs our beliefs and dictates our experience of the world, the sooner we can heal and learn to come together to actually support one another and work toward equal rights for all. Side note: if you EVER want to discuss these things but are nervous or don’t know where to start or have any questions, I am here. Email me. Facebook me. Whatever. It is our job as allies to educate others, and it is literally my job as an educator to educate others. I am here. Use me. Here are seven nice white ladies who did the hard work of talking about race, gender, sexuality, and identity with me in New York at the beginning of the month. Everyone made it out alive. It’s gonna be ok.

When I talk to my friends who feel hopeless about the state of things, one thing I always say is get out in the streets, because out there are people who feel just like you do, and that is empowering and comforting beyond belief. I was fortunate enough to be in New York after I left the D.C. Women’s March and there were a ton of protests and the solidarity and urgency was beautiful. The pipeline protest at Columbus Circle, the rally for Muslims and immigrants at Washington Square Park, the emergency #NoBanNoWall protest at JFK, the #NoBanNoWall rally at Battery Park the next day, the LGBTQIA rally at Stonewall. Everything was intersectional. We marched and rallied in the rain and sleet, in the sun and wind. Day and night. It was energizing. Here’s a photo from each of those protests. I’m trying to document each protest and its respective signage on my instagram, so look there if you want more.

Women’s March on Washington, Jan 21st 2017

#NoDAPL #NoKXL #WaterIsLife, Columbus Circle to Times Square, Jan 24th 2017

Rally for Muslims & Immigrants, Washington Square Park, Jan 25th 2017

JFK protest, Jan 28th 2017

#NoBanNoWall Rally, Battery Park, Jan 29th 2017

LGBTQIA Rally, Stonewall, Feb 4th 2017

Protests didn’t feel like enough, so while I was in New York I added all my congresspeoples’ names and local/national phone numbers to my contacts, plus the names and numbers of congresspeople from states I used to live in (Colorado, Utah) where I still have friends, family, and personal interests. Especially because CO has one republican senator and Utah has two. And even though many people are talking about postcards being a waste of time, I sent post cards. My local Staples accidentally gave my order to someone else before I could pick it up, and I wasn’t even mad because they explained so many people had been making those cards, they got confused. Even if the cards themselves aren’t effective with the representatives, they pass through many hands (the people who printed them, the post office, the delivery people, staffers, etc), so the more we can flood the country with images of resistance, even if it’s just these small silly postcards, the larger number of people will see just how invested we are in changing things, and maybe that will inspire a person or two. We need everyone we can get.

I also assembled a list of Items To Take To A Protest. I am making a list of larger items soon, but these are the easy grab and go items that come in handy:

  1. Emergency cash.
  2. Sharpie to write info on your arm (it’s best to protest with a buddy in case shit goes down, but if you lose cell phones, I bet you don’t have each others’ numbers memorized).
  3. Bandana in case of tear gas/pepper spray. (Also, a small bottle of 50% water, 50% malox or any other base liquid.)
  4. Portable cell phone charger (my phone died at two protests).
  5. Some kind of protein snack.
  6. Hand warmers if you live in a place with real winter.

Stay hydrated, but you’ll have to do that delicate balance between drinking water and needing to hold your pee since there aren’t often opportunities to use a bathroom while protesting.

Finally, like my hometown of Denver and my adoptive city of Los Angeles remind us: Nazi punching for the win. You can do the punching or support the puncher.

Now here are those two excellent videos I promised you at the beginning of the post:

You Can Be A Radical!

Resist: How to Triumph in Trumpland

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