(Com)passionate Protest

Tearing down the establishment by building up each other.

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On Friday, myself and millions of Americans watched the unthinkable happen. In 2017, a man was inaugurated into our highest office who is a blatant racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, narcissist; a man who is not qualified in the least to be the head of our nation, a man who gets in more twitter fights than the average 13-year-old. Beyond that, our House and Senate are being run by a party that doesn’t believe in global warming, a woman’s right to choose, that people should have affordable/accessible healthcare, and on and on and on.

Shit seems bleak to say the least.

We have a long and arduous road ahead of us. And what is on my mind, and I know it’s on the minds of many others, is what do we do now? What is our course of action? How do we fight back?

Of course, there’s protesting, showing the world the sheer mass of people who refuse to be silent in the wake of this insanity. If you have the means (spoons, money, transport, physical ability, etc.), please, do that. Please hit the streets and make them see us, and I commend the MILLIONS of people who did just that on Saturday.

But for some of us, that’s not really a viable option. I have seen so many lament that they felt like bad activists, feminists, what-have-you because they couldn’t march on Saturday. Let’s just clear that up right now: You are not less of an activist, you do not care less about what’s happening in our country, you are not a failure because you couldn’t attend a march.

Personally, I had to work that day, and though being among so many amazing people raising my voice would have been incredible, paying my rent must take priority, and I know a ton of people were in that boat as well, and that’s ok. For some, their anxiety doesn’t allow them to be in such mass crowds of people, and that is ok because your mental health should always take priority. And something HUGE that we don’t always think about when issues like this are discussed is that some just don’t have the mobility to navigate things like protests, no matter how accessible they try to make them. There are of course many other reasons people who wanted to attend couldn’t and why people will not be able to attend such events in the future.

The thing is, protesting is not all we’ve got going for us. There are many other things we can do on a micro level that will push back against this Trumpster Fire that is about to sweep the nation.

Make Your Representative’s Lives Hell

I mean it. Call them daily – hell if you have time, call them multiple times. If you’re like me and you work from home call (there will likely be a wait), put that shit on speaker and continue working, cleaning, dancing, petting your cat, whatever. Leave voicemails, leave 100. Email them constantly. Snail mail them letters. And do this often. Let them know if they vote against the interest of the people that we will fire them – let them know we are paying attention. You could even get together with friends and make calling them a group event!

You can find out how to contact your reps here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Get Involved Locally

I know this is easier said than done. I don’t often have the spoons to go to a bunch of local events and you may be just like me. But if you do have the gumption, go to town hall meetings, sit in on your city council if you can, meet with the people who run your city and let THEM know that people are watching. If you’re good at things like this, and have the time, form community groups that keep local lawmakers accountable. Put together lists of lawyers in your area who will work with LGBTQ+ folks, lawyers who are willing to advise people free of charge, maybe even organize a community event with a few lawyers where people can ask questions and get to know the system better.

Use Your Resources

There’s a huge chance that if you’re reading this, you’re in the same boat as me: You don’t have money. Sure, you maybe have enough for rent and the occasional Saturday night out but you’re not in the position to bankroll anyone anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean you’re without resources. Do you have a car? Do you know other people who also have cars? Form a local ride share for folks who need to get to your nearest Planned Parenthood (or other sort of care facility), because things are about to get rough healthcare-wise. Are you perhaps a social worker? Maybe you know of some underutilized resources in your area that could be better promoted. Do you have some free time? Offer to watch a friend’s kids while they go to the doctor or even just the grocery store. Or use that time to campaign for a politician you believe in (when the time comes for that). Do you speak another language? Offer to translate for people in your community. Have some extra clothing? Donate to a women’s shelter. Do you know a trade (hairstylist, mechanic, etc.)? Offer your services for free or at a discount to someone in need, or organize with others to form a group that can offer services (taking the stress of that off one person).

Learn A Skill

Maybe you have a little extra time (I know, I know) and you’ve been wanting to learn a new skill? Well, now is the time to do it. Maybe you want to become a Doula – folks with uteruses will be needing the extra help and that’s a valuable skill set to have. Learn first aid, how to sew, gardening, basic mechanic skills, carpentry skills, and on and on. Those may seem like little things but they can be valuable to you and your community.

Take Care of One Another

This one seems so trivial, so tiny. But when we are facing an administration that doesn’t value many of us as human beings, this is ridiculously important. We live in a society where so many of us are overworked, underpaid, and are just exhausted. On top of that, asking for help has become incredibly taboo – the American way is to pull yourself up by the bootstraps without having others lend you a helping hand. I say fuck that. We, as a nation, seem to have forgotten that community means caring for one another and having compassion means loving people no matter the reason they are struggling. We need to dismantle the idea that needing help is weakness. We need to dismantle the idea that needing a support system makes us leaches. We need to destroy these ideas because they are fueling so much of the legislation that is trying to be passed right now. We need a new American Way and that starts with us all being better neighbors.

Have weekly potlucks with your friends, or if you can, just feed your friends once a week, maybe trade weeks with people so that one meal a week is covered. Open you home to people when they just need a place to breathe, cry, scream. Have a damn cocktail party, have coffee and dessert, have tea ( all areSO much less work than dinner) and trade ideas with your friends, have conversations, ask them how they are. Use this time to organize yourselves. Then take these little things to your community if you can. Organize a community potluck where people can gather and discuss things and network. Pair up with local businesses to have nights where the community is encouraged to gather and talk about improvements that can be made, where people can make themselves available to help others. And speaking of local businesses: SUPPORT THEM. They are often great places and you’d be surprised the resources you may be able to find there.

Obviously, there are literally thousands of other ways to make the world around us better – I haven’t even scratched the surface and I’d love for you to tell me ways you have found to strengthen your community. But the one thing I hope you take away from this is that we all can make a difference – we can all fight back – and we should.

In the spirit of this post, the AMAZING artist Tara O’Brien provided the illustration. Please check her out through one (or all) of the links below, you won’t regret it!
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Not The Post I Planned

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When I finally decided to use this blog I did not plan on my first post being this. I thought my first post would be something fun and frivolous, likely focused on fatshion or perhaps even a recipe. Instead, I’m starting this adventure by telling you, dear reader, that I’m not ok.

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(If you didn’t have this play in your head after that we can’t be friends.)

Yeah, this is possibly the shittiest introduction to a blog in the history of the internet, but I feel that visibility is incredibly important, and part of being committed to visibility is being seen when you’re not at your best. We live in an age of curated self-image, and I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing all the time, but it also makes it so easy to forget that being human is a messy business. So, in the name of being visible, I’m starting this party off with being my true messy, swamp monster of a human self.

There are so many factors that add up to my general “not ok-ness” at the moment, some of them are things I’ve brought upon myself and some of them are completely and utterly out of my control. Overall though my “not ok-ness” is caused by being completely frustrated. Look, patience is not a virtue I possess, I’m a true Aries and I thrive when I’m barreling forward at a pace that I like (generally I like that pace to be breakneck get shit done now fast), and my current situation demands fucking patience. I’m drudging my way through college for a degree I’m not even entirely sure I want anymore, at a school I don’t like, surrounded by people who possess privilege I never will who are mostly a solid 4-5 years my junior, the student loan debt is building, my give-a-shit is waning, and my country is being run by a bunch of selfish fuck-wits led by a Cheeto wearing a toupee. I daily have a moment of, “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK IS HAPPENING?!” And I know I am not alone in this. Hell, you may even be reading this going, “Oh. My. God. It’s me.”

Regardless of the reasons and the causes of them the most important thing I’m having to remind myself of (and the thing I want you to remember) is that it’s ok to not be ok. Things are crap right now, even if things are good for you personally the world is struggling in a way we haven’t seen in a long while. And you know what? We shouldn’t be ok. The things that are happening here, and elsewhere, aren’t ok and our aknowledgement of how it effects us helps keep these things from becoming normal. It’s not normal for an entire generation to be drowning in student loan debt, it’s not normal for a government to not care that their citizens are going to die from lack of healthcare, it’s not normal for us to have a President who’s a sex offender, and on and on.

I know if you’re living this student loan ridden working-poor life like I am you’re probably watching this horror show and feeling entirely helpless. You can’t afford (literally) to run off to protest, you don’t have the money to donate to a bunch of causes, and maybe you live in a red state that seems unchanging. But change isn’t always headline making. We can make things better for our communities in small ways; cook dinner for your friends, start support groups, or maybe start a book club and read something subsersive, tell people you’re not ok and be fiercely vulnerable, create safe spaces for people to express themselves because we are going to need them going forward. When it’s as apparent as it is now that no one else is looking out for us we have to look out for one another.

So this is me telling you it’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to be a swamp monster mess because swamp monsters can also be majestic sea witches. And you can reach out to me if you need someone to talk to.

You are fucking beautiful and I love you!

-Charlie