Confessions of an Uneasy Activist

It’s been two months since the election and the feeling of shock and revulsion has not worn off, for better or for worse. For better because I want to maintain this feeling and, with it, the sense of urgency that propels me to act against the impending doom of alt-right America. For worse because…alt-right America.

That is the terrifying specter that stays on my mind and convinces me not to drift back to my normal way of being.

 As a feminist, one of my goals is to resist agents of oppression whenever possible, and that’s exactly what I believe the GOP and the Trump administration are. That’s what motivates me to do what I can to minimize the damage they will undoubtedly wreak upon women, people of color, the poor, LGBTQ folks, immigrants, the environment, and so on.

When I was 13, I was captivated by a romanticized notion of the anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights Movements. I devoured books and movies on the era, I idolized the activists, and I self-interestedly lamented that my generation would never experience what they had. I didn’t understand the full reality: that inequity and injustice hadn’t gone anywhere and that a fight was still crucial. This election has simply highlighted that truth for me, and the past few weeks have been one gut punch after the other. We’re currently up against a proposed administration of torture enthusiasts, racists, and anti-choice zealots who threaten not only civil liberties but also the legitimacy and constitutionality of our democracy. All of this is predictable, yes, but alarming and unacceptable nonetheless.

I was optimistic about the might of the opposition this past weekend as I voted for local Democratic Party Delegates who will become voting members of the party. While this election has brought a lot of ugliness to the surface, it has also inspired many; nearly 800 people turned out who don’t usually vote for delegates in my district alone.

The whole venue was humming with excited people, and we all (I assume) walked away feeling proud and pleased with our community, and ourselves, for giving a shit.

I drove away smiling and enjoying the beautiful Southern California sun, ready to resume my day…until a huge Trump-Pence billboard crossed my vision, looming above me on the street. In Southern California. Just another reminder against complacency.

There is no shortage of those reminders that there is always more that can be done. Despite revering activists, their tactics often fall outside of my comfort zone, and I find myself so overcome by how much needs to be done that I forgo doing what I can. Thankfully, incredible people and groups have created resources and tools to help us ease into action. Below are some of my favorite resources that make political activism easy and manageable, giving me one less excuse to do what I know I have to.

  • Pathways to Activism flowchart (courtesy of Dr. Peter Levine at Tufts University). The first step is deciding where you will focus your time and energy; both are finite, so concentrate on an issue and solution that you are particularly invested in and driven by.
  • Daily Grab Back website provides a new call to action or resource on their site every day. Each action is focused on promoting progressive causes or resisting right-wing tomfoolery, and each takes as little as 5 minutes to complete.
  • The Injustice Boycott, modeled on the Montgomery Bus Boycott, seeks to end police brutality by exerting organized pressure on cities and businesses. Sign up now to begin receiving daily emails with easy-to-do action items.
  • Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda is a comprehensive guide to grassroots organizing and working with elected representatives to oppose right-wing extremism. This is a great tool for anyone who wants to work within the established system to enact change.
  • Daily Action Alerts provide information on an urgent issue via text and even routes you directly to your elected representative to speak out. Text “DAILY” to 228466 to sign up.
  • The Women’s March on Washington (or a sister march in a city near you!) is coming up on Saturday, January 21st. Many cities will also host activism workshops following the march, a great opportunity to get looped into local activist networks.
  • And finally, just for fun: Make America Kittens Again, the Chrome extension that replaces photos of Trump with photos of adorable kittens. That picture at the top of the page? All I see is a pretty tabby.