*Give it a moment to load all the GIF things*
I have not written for a while. I have been busy as hell like everyone else. It is sometimes convenient or necessary to be occupied by our own tangled little lives. I mean, convenient for those of us who have the luxury of living in (mostly) safe neighborhoods in (mostly) quiet spaces with memory foam mattress toppers (well, one is being used as a mattress, but whatever) and water that runs (probably) clean out of brass faucets. I feel like this post should also have a bunch of disclaimers, but…meh…
(Also, this looks like a terrible idea).
Of course, comparing lives and stories to other lives and stories does not discount one or the other…Sometimes the world outside of us is just too much shit to handle. But avoiding it forever (for those of us who live/work in mostly safe environments and are not worried about our next meal or threats of/actual violence)? Nah, just a bad excuse.
Us (white) folks especially need to be accountable. Even when we feel like this.
The work should have never stopped, but you should probably Finish Your Ugly-Crying. Here’s What Comes Next if you haven’t already. I think there are many people who are still not past the (feeling paralyzed) point, but seriously: “President Hillary — even with a Democratic Senate — wouldn’t have been able to put a hard stop on the entrenched racism that leads to state violence against black people, or the male entitlement that leads to the abuse and assault of women. Things are going to be, uh, different without her in the White House (sorry, understatement of the decade), but our fundamental task is unchanged. The call to action is the same, but so much louder.” (Thank you, Ann Friedman). Was never a big fan of any of the presidential candidates myself anyway. Except maybe this guy.
Unfortunately, I felt this election was too important to actually vote for Joe Exotic…but truth be told, I agree with this guy on plenty of points. Okay, I digress. No more campaign videos ever.
Access to more (and constant) information makes the world look like an incredible freaking disaster (which it is in some places). Aleppo is a complicated human rights disaster. There have never been this many displaced people on earth then there are right now. Closer to home, approximately 1 in 7 Montanans are struggling with hunger. A white supremacist group in Montana is encouraging harassment of people who are Jewish. The list goes on.
(Side note: When did Cosmo start publishing decent articles? Given, the white supremacy article was right next to “Which Kylie Jenner shop item are you?” Anyhow…) In all seriousness though, certainly not trying to diminish the enormity of some of these horrible situations occurring in the world.
It is also winter and cloudy here which doesn’t help anything. Damnit! Then we need to talk about climate change and how it is not only negatively impacting the planet, but the most vulnerable people who live on this planet.
It is really tempting to just throw hands up/be out and done, or to make sweeping generalizations about how the world is the worst it has ever been.
(Michonne & Darryl: Not even complaining).
There are endless lists of actions to be taken during these times–both vague and concrete, so I’ll try to stick to just a handful of concrete ones. This list is both personal and outside of our own little lives although many are a mix…I’m not an expert. But who is really an expert on the internet anyway?
1. You maybe/probably have already shopped & bought gifts for the holidays (if you celebrate), but consider donating $ this year instead (even $5 if you can) to a local or national organization. Big organizations (even ones I love such as Planned Parenthood) are getting loads of donations…consider smaller organizations with similar needs. Here is a wonderful list of intersectional grassroots organizations to start. Holidays over? Birthdays, weddings, whatever. Volunteering with local organizations can be an excellent way to give back too…I know, I know, who has time to volunteer besides retired folks? 2017 will not be my personal year for volunteering either, but I’m making promises to myself to start in 2018 (another story)…do what works for you.
2. Do your research if you plan to & are able to donate locally or nationally or internationally. www.charitywatch.org is a good place to start your research (although smaller or lesser known charities may not be listed). Organizations that sound amazing on paper are not always using your funds for anything useful. I would also not give to any international organizations that win a “rusty radiator award.” (Save the Children won first place this year–the award goes to the “fundraising video with the worst use of stereotypes.”) Médecins Sans Frontières is a solid international organization in the worst areas of conflict.
3. Are feminist organizations that you support (either financially or are involved with otherwise) practicing intersectional feminism? This is something all of us (white) women need to work better at & that does not include supporting #AllLivesMatter or using the word “diversity” a lot to make ourselves feel better. Here are some more tips on how to practice intersectional feminism, although I realize it takes a lot more work than reading a bunch of online articles. Also, saying “I’m an intersectional feminist” sounds a lot like saying “I’m a white ally.” Um, no. The purpose is not to make you a hero or a “good white person” (which you really don’t want to be). From article by Brit Bennett: “What a privilege, to concern yourself with seeming good while the rest of us want to seem worthy of life.” This education/action takes work (we all have plenty to do). Resisting/speaking out against white supremacist groups in Montana (or wherever you live) is a great start, but that does not mean any of us (white) people get a free pass from racism. This conversation also includes sexism, homophobia & transphobia, ableism, classism, etc…There are loads of important articles/discussions out there on these topics (find them).
(Franchesca Ramsey has some amazing commentary on youtube by the way).
4. “I’m just not political” is fine, but that doesn’t mean you get to do nothing. Or maybe it does. I don’t know. Just sounds like a lazy excuse. It does not mean that you need to care about who is running for president every four years either (just a small piece)…voting in mid-term elections is also really, really important. I’m just as guilty as the next person (what really is going on with local politics?) Time to pay attention.
5. Social media. So-called “slacktivism” is controversial, however I would argue that not everyone can get out and be involved with organizations/traditional advocacy (no car, social phobias, physical disability, $$ for travel to protests, etc). Social media activism can be incredibly effective. People who have historically had very little power or voice in the world, have a powerful tool. See How Black Lives Matter Uses Social Media to Fight the Power. I guess this really isn’t a “tip” per se, but maybe a “don’t totally discount social media as a vehicle for change?” but don’t let that mean it is the only thing either, especially if you are a person that can get out & help with real action…fine lines here between what is useful and what is complete bullshit activism/slacktivism.
6. So, it is strange that #6 should be to get off social media. This is really just personal & perhaps unrelated to activism, but rather due to time management. I still have Fbook for international friends (easiest and “free” form of communication) & follow a handful of excellent advocacy sites. I do miss things like a friend’s serious sickness or hospitalization (luckily there are text message notifications too), but I don’t miss things like cats doing cute things or photos of food or clever memes. Okay, I might miss cats doing cute things.
But…social media also made me feel kind of crappy about myself. People that would not respond to my text messages or calls due to “busyness” found time to post endless selfie-sunset photos or something. I also don’t understand the point of taking retro-edited selfies while sitting in a car (no offense to anyone who has done that which seems to be like 80% of people from ages of teenager to 40-something). Yes, I am a bit bitter about social media myself, but that doesn’t mean I’m “tech-shaming” people who find it to be fulfilling/less lonely, etc. I also totally understand social anxiety, but is Fbook really helping or hindering your anxiety? (Not saying it is doing either, since everyone is different). Just limiting Fbook has made my life less complicated. *Whew. This one has been a bit confusing & wordy!
7. Quit participating in habits that do not fulfill you, whatever those may be (see #6). I made myself little “tickets” so that I can only check certain websites, email, etc. a certain number of times per day. This is also helpful to free up time for other (less MY little life) things. This is a really, really, really hard thing…small steps, right?
8. Avoid the news in the morning, but don’t avoid it completely. Avoiding the news doesn’t make it go away (no shit) but reading the news in the morning just makes me want to cry into my cup of coffee and then my day is off to a rough start. Maybe the news doesn’t impact you in such a way.
9. Quit blaming millennials for everything. Then quit blaming any other generation for anything ever. This is just a really boring pattern of generational blaming. Of course there are generational differences, nobody is denying that. But, people say the weirdest & most patronizing shit about younger generations (again, not new). No, we did not “grow up with technology” (although this category includes those born up until the year 2000?…so I guess some did), we don’t have “poor work ethnic,” and this generation is really not anymore narcissistic than the rest. Ugh. Seriously. Can we be done with those cliched conversations?
10. Support good quality journalism! Local or otherwise! Again, do your research before donating. People complain a lot about “the media” which is another empty/cliched conversation, but if we don’t have any journalists…who the hell is reporting the news? Facebook?! So we only see what we want to see and is already in line with our current world views? No thanks!
11. Put down your phone. I get that this is a helpful tool especially for busy people (we all are) and for those with social anxiety/other anxiety disorders…but when you are at lunch with your friend, for the love of whatever, just turn off your goddamn phone. Talk to the person in front of you. Say hello to your neighbors (guilty of not doing this like everyone else). Maybe acknowledge people and treat them kindly if possible? Wow. What a start…It may be awkward at first.
12. Pray? Just kidding. Unless that is your thing.
13. Read weekly horoscopes by Chani Nicholas. I don’t care if horoscopes aren’t scientific or whatever else. Trust me, these ones do not say that you’ll find love on Tuesday if you leave a Christmas basket on your neighbor’s front door. In addition, she is just a beautiful/hopeful writer.
(Credit: Chani Nicholas)
There are so many other things to add to this list! But, this is a start (for me too).
Congrats if you made it through! (You are probably my mom).