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The Road Ahead

Every morning I wake up and it’s still true.

I keep getting reminders from my friends of color, my immigrant friends, my friends who don’t fit the narrow mold that I mostly do: for them and many of their families overseas, living under oppressive regimes this country helped create, the American situation has been dire for a very long time. Much of the worst of it was orchestrated under what we called a Liberal administration. It took this turn of events for me, and I think a lot of us in my position, to finally get the picture.

And now we’ve got this White House, which is explicitly empowering hate groups right here at home. And also draining funding and power from vital programs and initiatives.

A few days ago I snapped out of my funk, and began taking action. I am trying to figure out where to best be of use. For a while yet, I am still living in a bit of a fairyland which allows me the time to do a lot of things. That won’t last forever, so eventually I am going to have to focus on what is most needed and effective.

For now, here is what I’m doing:

Reaching out to people who may feel vulnerable
Friends who are people of color. LGBTQ friends. Muslim friends. Immigrant friends. Friends with disabilities. If any of your friends feel vulnerable, let them know you are ready to help if they need it. Also, look for organizations that support the most vulnerable. I am personally looking into immigrant rights groups.

EDIT: Donating is never an easy thing; know who you are donating to and what their history and labor practice is. To quote Yasmin Nair, a friend who spends a lot of time researching these things: “my strong advice to you is to first look through all their work and their labour practices and then ask them very hard questions. In many cases, these organisations have actually funded issues that ended up causing devastating harm to many people while enabling the rights of the few (those who benefit from gay marriage*, those “good immigrants” who could be protected easily, academic scabs, etc). “

* This is not to say I am against gay rights – but is more a critique of seeing marriage as the only portal to rights (like healthcare) that should be extended to everyone. In any case, I am doing my research.

Starting a policy reading and discussion group
A friend of mine is a student of economics, and she put out a call for friends to get together for this. She prepared a list of the goals for the new administration’s first 100 days in office, and we are going to use that as a study guide. I want to understand more fully what is at stake. Oh yeah, I should have started doing this a long time ago. But now is good too.

Attended a community meeting
It was packed. People were mostly white and youngish, and at all stages of political awareness. It wasn’t my normal scene, but I was encouraged by the energy. It was put together by a young state representative. I have a lot of doubts about the democratic party, and particularly in Illinois; but I remain optimistic because the community was eager and engaged, and people are following up to become involved. We just have to ensure that any policies pursued are truly progressive. The Left needs to get its house in order.

Continuing engagement with my existing community
I am part of a strong arts and action community. We talk about real stuff. It is getting a lot realer.

Reaching out to friends in red states
I don’t know exactly where this will go, but we will see.

Rebooting my spiritual life
I might visit some different welcoming faith communities, see what’s up, and what their plans are for reacting to this. I really hope they have some. Regardless of my own spiritual beliefs, churches have deep roots and can reach a lot of people. For myself, I did some chanting with a group yesterday, and I am looking further into Buddhist study. I feel like I need to sustain my soul for the long haul, and this is what speaks to me.

That’s it for now. There’s a lot of other smaller things too; and while I support protests, I am not participating as of yet because I am not so physically able sometimes. And I really hate that I feel I have to say this – but if anyone reading this somehow thinks protestors are paid, let me restrain myself from rolling my eyes and assure you that no, they are not.

Stay strong. Get informed. Do something. Keep doing it.

Published inWhat to Do?

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