Hey fam. How are you doing lately? If my social media feeds are anything to go off of, you’ve probably cycled through some of the following emotions recently: shock, anger, determination, shock, anger, sadness, fear, shock, empathy, shock, subjugation, shock that you’re still able to feel shock, rebellion, waves of despondence, then maybe some hope after a search for puppies and other baby animals to soothe yourself. I get it. There is no shortage of negativity right now. Donald Drumpf has been (…..do I have to say it???) president for 18 days, and wow is he doing a lot. of. terrible. shit.
In response to the terribleness has come a nation-wide surge in progressive political activity from previously uninterested voters: marches and vigils, visits to senators, millions of phone calls to representatives, and enough petitions and Facebook posts to make your computer crash. I am glad that so many people all over the country are interested in taking action against this new regime. So please, understand that what I say next is in a spirit of constructiveness and helpfulness:
Most of you have no idea how to fight back.
But also… you do not have to figure out what to do right now.
If you only started to feel worried after November 9th, 2016, and currently find yourself scrambling to attend a protest or vigil every week and you’ve been calling your elected officials twice a day and you can’t seem to tear yourself away from terrifying clickbait news and you’ve been getting into a lot of Facebook arguments with your uncle or your coworker’s mom lately… Stop. Take a break.
You don’t have to fix this by yourself right now (and to be blunt, your “we are all immigrants” sign won’t do the trick anyway).
Consider this: Trump – and more importantly, Bannon and Pence – is a threat that has been building for forty years. He is the culmination of four decades of neoliberal economic policy, mass incarceration and criminalization in the New Jim Crow era, and evangelical policy activism. If it took forty years of strategic work to get a neofascist into power, that means it will take at least forty years of work to defeat him, reverse his policies, and heal and repair our communities.
And luckily, those forty years do not start now. They started decades ago as Southern freedom fighters continued to build on the work of the civil rights movement of the 1950-60s. Progressive and radical Southerners have been fighting the New Confederacy for years (and we’ve been trying to warn y’all about the rising New Confederacy for a while too, but this isn’t a call-out post so I’ll just leave it at that). They have developed the strategies and practices needed to resist fascism, protect our communities, support our people, and transform our government.
So if you are new to progressive politics, or if you are currently an ally who wants to become an accomplice, you will be most effective and powerful if you learn from, follow, and support the work of established groups, led by directly impacted people, that have always fought the imperialist, capitalist, heteropatriachal white supremacy. Some of these groups may not let you become members, if you are not part of a directly impacted group. That is okay (and we can talk about that in the comments if you need that). You can still learn from them, financially support them, and share their work with those who will benefit.
Who are those groups? I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED!
Movement for Black Lives and the Vision for Black Lives: If you haven’t gotten to know the Movement for Black Lives or the work of Alicia Garza (co-creator of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and movement), you need to hurry over to the website and get your whole damn life. The M4BL is building a world based on “a hopeful and inclusive vision of Black joy, safety and prosperity. That means freedom from violence and economic inequality, as well as the freedom to realize our greatest dreams.”
Wondering how they’ll do it? You don’t need to cuz the Vision for Black Lives lays it all out. The vision was developed by a collective of kickass Black organizers – including Ash-lee, an unstoppable force of radical, loving, Black Womanhood who got me involved in the movement – and combines an analysis of what’s happening know with a transformative vision of what’s possible and a clear understanding of governance policy. Each section includes real-world examples of how these policies have been fought for and implemented. It’s your guidebook for turning complaints into concrete action steps.
Honestly, if you’re ever just feeling down about the world, just read some of the V4BL and you’ll get the boost of hope and determination you need.
Highlander Center: Rosa Parks didn’t just decide one day that she was too tired to get out of her bus seat, and Martin Luther King wasn’t born knowing how to strategically take over the streets for voting rights. They (along with thousands of others) put in a lot of preparation and went through carefully facilitated training in civil disobedience. That training took place at the Highlander Center. For 85 years, the Highlander Center has provided education and resources for social justice grassroots movements in and around Appalachia. The same Ash-lee that co-wrote the Vision for Black Lives is now the co-executive director of Highlander, so you KNOW it’s good! If you need more education on the history of social justice movements (or just how they work), Highlander is a wonderful place to start.
Project South: Project South is where Southerners go to learn how to be organizers. Their focus is on political education, leadership development, and building alliances between groups. If you’re unfamiliar with the jargon of social justice movements, you may find their resources and body of work a little confusing at first. Here’s my breakdown:
-First, PS provides political education by guiding marginalized and directly impacted folks as they analyze how oppressive systems influence their daily lives.
-PS also hosts training seminars that teach folks how to create a vision for what could be and a strategy for how to make that happen, including sessions on how to facilitate meetings, organize folks to take collective actions, and ways to collaborate with allied groups.
-PS creates space for organizations, informal groups and individuals to come together to share their visions and strategies, then devise plans for how these many groups can come together. The best example of this is the Southern Movement Assembly, which Project South anchors and facilitates (and where I facilitated the Children’s Assembly).
Project South is basically the place where Organizers learn to organize future Organizers. They recognize that as the South goes, so goes the nation. If your instinct is to throw money at a problem, definitely throw some money at these folks.
Southerners on New Ground: SONG is a home for Southern Queer/LGBTQQI people of all stripes. And I really do mean home – their mission is not only to bring queer people together for the purpose of political organizing, but also just to love and celebrate each other! They are rooted in Southern traditions, like storytelling, sharing meals, and folk art, which in and of itself is beautiful and necessary in a nation that tends to equate “Southern” with “Bigoted Hayseed.” SONG is about loving yourself and your people fiercely…. and also developing leadership skills, sharing knowledge, and taking political action. SONG is made up of Members and Member-Leaders, and becoming a member is a meaningful commitment process. Memberships is open only to Queer Southerners (if this bothers you, we can talk about that in the comments), but allies can provide financial support and invite others to do the same.
SNaP Co: If you believe that mass incarceration is a problem and we need to do more to protect people of color and trans folks from our biased criminal legal system, get down with SNaP Co (the Solutions not Punishments Collaborative). They take practical steps in Atlanta (the 9th biggest metropolitan area in the country) to divest from policing and prisons, and invest those funds in community resources and services. They help Trans folks get their legal names and gender changed, write city-level government policies, publish reports on policing in trans POC communities, and bring multiple gender and justice organizations together to collaborate and learn from each other. Shout-out to Cazembe for telling me about SNaP and encouraging me to include them in this post!
Organization for Black Struggle: OBS is based in St. Louis and grew out of the Black Power Movement starting in 1980 in direct response to the FBI’s attacks on the Black Panthers. If you’re seriously ready to be a radical pro-Black freedom fighter, read up on OBS’s work. They held it down in Ferguson after Michael Brown Jr. was murdered and continue to fight against police brutality and terrorism. BONUS: They sell dope AF tees, which are a great alternative to wearing a safety pin.
Wow, those are some kickass organizations. But I don’t live in the South, and don’t have a lot of money to give. What can I do in my hometown?
Commit to educating yourself and getting information from a variety of sources. ForHarriet.com, EverydayFeminism.com, KinfolkKollective.com, and the Veterans of the Southern Freedom Movement websites are all great places to learn. If you want to learn more about engaging with the current political system, the Indivisible Guide and the From Actor to Accomplice guide are here for you. And don’t forget The Vision for Black Lives!
So, ready to get free?