I’m excited to march, but I’m ready to work
The Women’s March is almost here!
Tomorrow, Donald J. Trump will be sworn in as our next President here in the United States. As heartbroken as I was on election night (and basically every day since then), I have seen some things since November 8th which have inspired me, and reminded me that it’s time to hold the line in the fight for equality-~-even if it’s hard, even if it seems like there are too many battles to fight.
Just remember, you aren’t fighting alone.
In addition to the Women’s March on Washington, there are 161 sister marches taking place around the world on January 21, with over a million estimated participants. And the Women’s March has evolved, from a simple shout of anger, to something with a real (and fantastically intersectional) platform, diverse leadership, and something that it stands for. I’m ready to put on my most comfortable walking shoes, find my friends, and stand with organizations like EMILY’s List, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU, as well as hundreds-~-make that thousands-~-of my fellow Americans as we insist that we will not go back.
The greatness that this country wants to reclaim it can only claim by going forward, never backwards. We can’t get back our manufacturing jobs-~-we have to find ways of investing in communities that have been devastated by the fact that we no longer hold a competitive advantage in manufacturing. We have to deal with class issues, and racial issues, and sexism, and homophobia, and abelism, and every other problem plaguing this country-~-we can’t go back to ignoring them and pretending we don’t know better. We do know better, and while the abstract concept of white privilege doesn’t make any difference when you’re struggling to put food on the table, we need to address what privilege means-~-and include class issues in that conversation. The problems that we face can’t be solved by passing the blame to other groups; they can only be resolved when we focus on actual solutions.
The Women’s March is a rallying cry to keep pushing forward, but my plea to you is this: once you’ve set down your protest sign and turned in for the night on Saturday, don’t think it’s time to congratulate yourself for getting out and marching. The work is only just beginning. We have a long road ahead of us, and already we are seeing huge challenges to the progress we have made: from conversations around de-funding the grants awarded through the Violence Against Women Act, to efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, to first steps towards a national abortion ban, to elevated levels of hate crime reports, to the nomination of people like Jeff Sessions to the cabinet, we have our work cut out for us.
So get out there and march, and on Monday, call your Senators and tell them that we need qualified cabinet members who will uphold our laws and execute their duties effectively. Tell them not to confirm people like Betsey DeVos (she’s Trump’s pick for Education Secretary-~-you can watch her confirmation hearing here) and Jeff Sessions. Tell them to defend the Affordable Care Act (because 18 million people shouldn’t lose their insurance just because the current plan is not perfect). Tell them to protect the Violence Against Women Act and a pregnant person’s right to choose. Remember, calling your representatives’ offices is the most effective way to make your voice heard. Write Op-Eds, go to town halls, sign petitions, do whatever you can to remind Congress and the Senate that they work for us.
And then get ready to stay on top of what’s happening, because part of our problem is that the incoming administration holds press conferences at the same time as confirmation hearings, the media gets sidetracked by Trump tweets and people’s responses on social media, and we all get lost in the mess of information available. Subscribe to an actual news source and keep track of what is happening. Don’t like the New York Times or Washington Post? Check out AP, Reuters, Christian Science Monitor, the Economist, the Atlantic, the Wall Street Journal, and others. Support your local paper. Listen to NPR. Check out Amy Siskind’s weekly list of the things subtly changing around us, and start keeping a list of your own. You can also use tools like Countable to keep track of what your representatives are voting on and let your opinion be heard.
So now you’re theoretically informed, you’re contacting your representatives, you are making yourself heard. DO NOT STOP. Don’t let hate and bigotry become normalized. Don’t let climate change denial and classism and “post-truth” rhetoric become normalized. Talk to people about what is really happening right in front of you, and don’t let anyone try to convince you that what you’re seeing is not real. Donate to organizations you care about, and if you’re not sure where to go, there is very soon to be a directory on this website with suggestions, but feel free to reference previous posts for names of progressive organizations in need of support. Become a clinic escort. Volunteer with RAINN or with a local organization addressing sexual violence. Keep writing to your congresspeople and writing op-eds. Support your state coalition against domestic violence or a local organization with money, in-kind donations like food or clothes, or volunteer work. Recycle. Boycott business which engage in discriminatory practices. Engage with actual brick-and-mortar institutions in your community like libraries, churches, homeless shelters, women’s organizations, community centers, senior citizens’ homes, schools, community colleges, etc., that are making a difference around you. Make civic engagement a part of your daily and weekly life and routine. Practice self-care so that all that civic engagement doesn’t cause you to burn out.
I’m not optimistic about the next four years. They’re going to be a long, hard struggle (including a difficult fight over the Senate in 2018). But we don’t just need a march-~-we need momentum. So if you’re ready to walk, get ready to work, because the next four years may be tough, and we may not win every battle, but we can’t go back, so we have to keep pushing forward, together.