We Marched on Washington. Now What?

Yesterday millions of women–and non-women–gathered to march in cities around the world to protest the inauguration of Donald Trump.  I was at one of those marches, and yes, it was extremely powerful.  If you marched on Washington or a different city near you, thank you.  If you were unable to attend but supported the march in other ways, thank you.  If this was your first time participating in an activist demonstration, congratulations and welcome to the club.  The Women’s March was a huge success, but when we all woke up this morning, Donald Trump was still president, and civil rights were still under attack.  So where do we go from here?

It’s absolutely crucial that we keep this momentum going.  DO NOT let this march be your only act of resistance over the next four years. You may be feeling a certain sense of catharsis right now having “done something” about Trump’s presidency, but your queer and trans friends, your Muslim friends, your black and Latinx friends, your immigrant friends, your disabled friends–they’re still hurting, still scared, still in danger.  If you believe in the cause of justice, you owe it to them–to us–to keep your fight going.

Your activism doesn’t have to look like mine or anybody else’s, but it does have to look like something.  There seems to be this idea that showing up to marches with big cardboard signs and chanting at the top of your lungs is what activism looks like.  That’s one kind of activism, but it’s not the only kind.  If it’s not your kind, that’s okay.  I’ll be the first to say that as a shy, highly sensitive introvert with anxiety who dislikes crowds and loud noises, it’s not always my kind.  Use your unique talents and skills.  The resistance needs marchers and community organizers, but it also needs lawyers, teachers, artists, politicians, social workers, poets, clergy, musicians, and more.  Now, if you’re like me and your greatest talents are turning literally any topic into a rant against white patriarchal capitalism and changing song lyrics to make them about your dog, you might not be so sure how you can help in the resistance.  But don’t worry; there truly is a place for everyone who believes in justice, progress, and human decency.  Here are some ways you can get involved and stay involved.  My advice?  Don’t try to do all of them all the time.  Pick a few that really speak to you, and put your heart and soul into them over the next four years.

Be active in state and local government.  Trump may be president, but he is NOT the whole government.  He’s pledged to sign a horrifically anti-LGBTQ “First Amendment Defense Act” which has me terrified and nauseated, but I can sleep just a little bit easier knowing that the state of Maryland and the city of Baltimore have laws in place against discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender.  Cities and states have enormous power and a crucial role to play in resisting Trump’s agenda, but that won’t happen without citizen action.  Call–don’t just email–your state and local government officials.  Put them on speed dial.  Attend town halls and other events where you can voice your concerns to government officials in person.  Make your voice heard in government.

Run for office.  If you want to take it a step further, you can become the local government yourself.  School boards, town councils, and other local positions are often overlooked when we think about putting “our people” in power, but the truth is we need grassroots resistance within the government from the bottom up.  So if you are politically inclined, consider running.  Even if you yourself don’t want to run, you can support organizations like She Should Run and hit the campaign trail to get out the vote for candidates who support the resistance.

Organize and participate in marches and demonstrations.  Was the Women’s March your idea of a rollicking good time?  Awesome!  There are so many more marches you can attend.  If you’re not sure where and when they are, there are plenty of groups that can help.  Put yourself on the mailing list for your local chapter of SURJ (Showing Up for Racial Justice).  Follow environmental, LGBTQ, feminist, and racial and economic justice groups on social media to keep up with what’s going on.  If you’ve been in the activism game for a while and you’re already a pro at showing up and marching, you might want to consider organizing some marches of your own.  If you’re new to it, you might want to hold off on starting your own protest until you’ve had a chance to learn from those who have been on the ground for years.

Volunteer to help marginalized communities.  Nonprofits in your area will need your help now more than ever.  Reach out to women’s shelters, food pantries, free clinics, Head Start programs, and immigrant and refugee services to see what they need and how you can help.  Maybe you can donate your time once or twice a week.  Maybe you can collect shoes or school supplies for refugee children.  If Trump plans to hurt these communities, it’s up to us to step up our game and help them.

Write.  Okay so it’s possible I included this so I could feel better about keeping this blog, but still, writing is a powerful tool for resistance.  We’ve all heard that the pen is mightier than the sword.  If you’re a journalist or a writer, use your platform for resistance.  If you’re not a journalist or a writer, you can still write letters to your elected officials or to newspapers.  Even a Facebook post can go viral and make a difference.  But it’s important to make sure that your activism isn’t limited to Facebook, so if you’re going to write angry rants, just promise me you’ll do something else on this list too, okay?

Create.  Successful resistance movements have art and music.  Even Emma Goldman didn’t want to be part of a revolution that didn’t have dancing.  If that’s what you do, then do it!  Create art and music that galvanizes the resistance and inspires people to keep fighting.  Don’t let anyone tell you that art isn’t activism.

Have the difficult conversations with people in your life.  If you are white, talk to other white people about racism and white privilege.  If you are straight, talk to other straight people about homophobia and discrimination.  If you are a man, talk to other men about misogyny and rape culture.  An unfortunate fact of belonging to a marginalized identity is that people with privilege will not always believe you when you speak your truth.  It needs to come from someone who looks like them.  So use your privilege–your white privilege, your straight privilege, your male privilege–to have the difficult, but necessary conversations with people in your life and bring new folks into the resistance.  I realize that talking to your 90-year-old racist grandma about police brutality may seem like a lost cause, but nobody should get a free pass.  Besides, what is your 5-year-old nephew going to learn when he hears the old people in his family saying bigoted things without anyone challenging them?

Boycott.  History has shown us that voting with your wallet works.  Boycotting all things Trump is a good place to start, but it’s just the beginning.  Boycott businesses that discriminate, businesses that promote sexism, racism, or homophobia, and businesses that mistreat their workers.  If our government won’t crack down on bigoted and unethical businesses, we’ll have to do it as organized citizens.

Donate or raise money.  I’m proud to say that one of the first things my awesome parents did after the election was make donations to Planned Parenthood and HIAS.  If you’re lucky enough to be financially able to donate money, organizations need your help.  If you’re a broke millennial like me, you can still organize fundraisers to help out.  If you’re unsure about where to donate to, I suggest the following organizations: HIAS, International Rescue Committee, ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, Everytown for Gun Safety, Planned Parenthood, She Should Run, National Women’s Law Center, National LGBTQ Task Force, Keshet, and Citizens Climate Lobby.

Teach others to resist.  And start them young, too.  I was so overwhelmingly inspired by the number of little girls at the Women’s March.  The future truly is female, but only if we make it so.  Teach your daughters, sisters, and nieces that they are strong, smart, and valuable.  Teach your sons, brothers, and nephews that they should also be feminists.  Teach children of all genders to be active and engaged and stand up to racism, sexism, homophobia, and all other forms of hate and bigotry.

So there you have it.  Ten ways to actively resist Trump and his bigotry now that the Women’s March is over.  So now there’s no excuse.  No “I don’t know what I can do,” because you know very well what you can do.  Now go do it.  Agitate, organize, fight, write, defend, care, teach, punch Richard Spencer in the face.  But whatever you do, do something.  And always remember:

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Image description: An image of Princess Leia with the words “A woman’s place is in the resistance”
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