Friday, November 18, 2016

So Now What?

I have said a lot of stuff on the blog this week.

I'm Not Racist, But...

Kindness Isn't Enough

What My Feelings Are Not

Defining My Faith

It's a lot. And it was pretty raw. And very therapeutic for me.

That doesn't mean I am now all better, though. It doesn't work that way.

I am still struggling but I am also trying to figure out what I am supposed to do now. What can I do that will impact change? Or that will protect change?

Am I called to get involved in politics and impact systemic change?

Am I called to do more volunteer work to focus on those who are marginalized?

Am I called to get involved at rallies and protests?

And then I struggle.... will any of it even matter?

I am watching as Trump entertains, taps and names known racists for cabinet positions and important jobs.

I am watching as friends share stories of hate directed at them or their loved ones.

I am watching as Americans, people who are supposed to believe in liberty and freedom and dignity, talk about a Muslim registry.

The fact that ANY of these things have to be explained as blatantly wrong is simply beyond the pale.

Clearly, action is required. There is no option to hide or "wait and see." The exact things that so many of us were afraid of are exactly what is happening.

But what do we do about it?

Here are some ideas.

1. Republicans Step Up. I have heard from Republican friends that they voted for Trump or know people who did but they weren't happy about it because of his bigotry. Well, now is the time for you to step up and be louder than the rest of us. You put him in office, now tell him that he is failing you. Talk to your fellow Republicans and demand action. Fighting bigotry is exactly where the country should be coming together.

2. Brush up on your Civics Lessons. There is a lot we all forget of what we learned in history and social studies back in school. You have to know how the systems work in order to influence change in those systems. This pdf is designed to help immigrants pass a citizenship test - so it seems like an ideal place to start. And this is a website designed to make learning about civics a little more fun and engaging. Finally, I've always enjoyed TED talks and here is a collection of various TED talks that cover civics topics.

3. Contact your government representatives - local, state, and federal. This also calls back to number 1. I live in a red state and have few Democrats to rely on to fight for things I believe in. So I need to make sure the elected Republicans understand that they also represent my voice in their office. You can use this website to find out who your representatives are. Mark your calendar to call your reps - call about specific legislation, call about topics that are important to you. Write a script and say the same thing every time if you have to. But your elected officials - especially if you didn't vote for them - need to be reminded that their agenda should be for all the people they represent, not just those who voted for them.

4. Get Involved. Decide on what is most important to you. And then put time towards what matters. Put money towards the groups that are fighting the systems.

5. Call Out Racism, Sexism, Xenophobia, Homophobia. This one is specifically for white people. For men. For Americans born in the US. For straight people. We are inside the culture that needs to change. When you hear comments or jokes or support of the things that you know are wrong, you have to be willing to speak up.  This one might be the most important, and maybe the hardest.

6. Mix Up Your Social Groups  If you look around at the people you spend time with and they are all basically just like you, it's time to mix it up. You are going to have to get very purposeful about widening your circle. Getting involved in volunteer organizations, finding a church with a more diverse population, finding groups that specifically seek to create bridges between communities - that's what needs to happen. Step outside of your bubble.

7. Have A Plan Ready  If you see someone being mistreated, know how you will handle it. I've prepped my middle schooler - told her that my expectation is that she get involved. Step in and get the victim out (I'm supposed to take you to the office). Get an adult to help. You don't have to confront the bigot/bully. But we can't turn a blind eye, turn our backs, look away. Every one of us has to be willing to step into a situation. You can step into the situation to be next to the person being attacked or taunted - be their ally and help them get to a safe place. Sit next to the woman in hijab on the bus. Stay close to the transgender person in your bathroom. Walk by the non-white person.

It's hard to find the drive to fight in the midst of reeling from what is happening all around us. But the reality is that what Trump said and showed is proving to be exactly the truth. We all said we were afraid of his supporters - the people who took his words as permission to fly the bigot flag and be very open about their nationalist and supremacist desires. We all said we were afraid of what Trump would do in office - and those fears are coming true as we watch him build his administration.

The reality is here. The fight has begun. Figure out what you can do and start doing it.

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