Fired up. Ready to go. Now what?
On Saturday, almost 4 million people in more than 600 cities in the United States and across the globe gathered to tell the Trump administration, “We are watching. We will not sit down. We will not shut up.” The Women’s March on Washington and its sister marches were the biggest inaugural protests in history. The crowds were bigger than anyone expected – even the organizers.
The crowd, the solidarity, the tongue-in-cheek signs gave each of us a much-needed jolt of hope. For many this was the first time since Election Day that despair and disappointment were not the primary emotions aroused in response to the election. There was an enormous amount of positive energy in the crowds yesterday. It was palpable. It was electric. It was nourishing.
Relish that energy. Take pride in being part of history. But do not lose that energy. Harness it. Do not let the Women’s Marches become a blip in history. Rather, join the movement(s) that have already begun so that yesterday’s historic action signals the beginning of a social movement dedicated to protecting civil rights, promoting social justice, and prompting solidarity – then they will have been truly revolutionary.
We have to keep showing up.
We keep showing up because the water in Flint, MI is still poison. We keep showing up because the future of the Affordable Care Act is uncertain. We keep showing up because white women make $0.77, black women make $0.64, and Latina women make $0.56 for every $1.00 made by a white man. We keep showing up until paid family leave and affordable child care are realities. We keep showing up because “zero-tolerance” education policies disproportionately affect children of color. We keep showing up because Republicans in Congress have repeatedly threatened to repeal the Violence Against Women Act. We keep showing up because 50% of transgender youth will have attempted suicide by their 20th birthday
We have to keep showing up.
And not just when the message applies directly to us. Women of privilege, I am looking at you (and myself – this is as much a direct challenge to myself as it is to anyone else).
Yesterday at the Women’s March on Chicago, we repeatedly chanted “I am my sister’s keeper.” This means we show up for immigrant and refugee justice. This means we show up for Black Lives Matter. This means we show up for Muslim women and their right to live and dress however they please. This means we show up for LGBTQIA rights, and that we do not promote rhetoric that excludes transgender women and gender non-conforming individuals from feminism. This means we show up for sex workers’ rights. This means we show up when our reproductive freedom and healthcare are threatened.
We keep showing up.
Feeling energized, but not sure what to do next?
1. Join the Women’s March 10 Actions for the first 100 Days. The Women’s March is launching a new campaign: 10 Actions for the first 100 Days. The website will periodically release new actions that you can take to keep the momentum going. The first action is already up.
2. Call your Congressperson. I know this sounds antiquated. But they listen. Remember, when the House Republicans tried to gut the independent ethics office, and then had to walk it back the very next day because so many people had called Congressional offices voicing outrage? Also, keep in mind calls, emails and letters get logged and often responded to – tweets and Facebook posts do not. Even if your congressperson usually votes the way you want them to, call them. They need your encouragement and support to take on the fights we need them to take up. Don’t know who your representative is – find out here.
3. Join a Social Movement. Follow on social media or sign-up to receive emails from your local Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter chapter, or other social justice movement you’re interested in so that you know when their events are and how to get involved.
4. Get involved in local politics. Not happy with the decision your city councilperson or superintendent made? Run for their seat, or help someone else run for their seat. Rodham Consulting is an organization born out of the 2016 election that provides pro bono advice and guidance to women seeking to run for office in Illinois. Check out the amazing work they are doing. If you aren’t in Illinois, check out VoteRunLead, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting women interested in running for office. If you are interested in supporting the efforts already underway to elect Democrats to the House in 2018, check out Swingleft.org for ways to get involved.
5. Donate and/or Volunteer. Since Election Day, organizations dedicated to civil rights and social justice initiatives have been mobilizing. Most of these organizations operate on donations and volunteers If you are able, consider donating what you can to an organization whose work you support. There are some suggestions at the end of this piece if you need them. If you have some extra time, consider volunteering with one of these organizations, or a local organization you want to support.
For photos chronicling the Women's March on Los Angeles, check out Erica Djafroodi's piece here.