Many of us are rekindling our activist spirit knowing that the next four years will require everyone to act.
Everywhere, there are urgent conversations among folks who are committed to justice and who reject an administration with policies grounded in violence and intimidation. They are Bernie Sanders’ “Berners” still hot after his run, or part of a sleepy civil society that has been shocked awake by the Trump victory and Republican sweep. Many people are aching to act but are unsure where to begin, while others are rekindling their advocate or activist spirit. Folks involved in continuing efforts might be ready to take their current actions to the next level. No matter where you are on the “take action” spectrum, there’s something concrete you can do.
Join community- and issue-based organizations where you live. Be part of front-end planning and not just end-game celebrations. Help develop short-term and long-term strategies. Organize with community members, not just for them. Document progress, celebrate success, and evaluate strategies.
2. Take risks
For some, the risk of speaking out or taking action presents serious safety concerns. But for others, if all that’s at stake is mild discomfort, then what do you have to lose? Consider what stops you from speaking up, speaking back, or showing up.
3. Be an active ally
Plan ahead on what you are honestly willing to do in situations that may require your action in standing up to Islamophobia, homophobia, or xenophobia. We can all be better allies and increase our willingness to be vigilant and visible, but we need to be ready to act.
4. Support youth activism
Are there youth in your life who are moved to take action? Be a champion of their efforts and encourage their participation. Learn about the issues they find pressing and important. Check out the California Conference for Equality and Justice for examples of creating intergenerational networks of support and action.
5. See the connections
Systems of oppression are intertwined, and the struggles for racial, gender, economic, environmental, educational, and social justice intersect. Consider who we exclude and what we miss when we ignore these intersections.
6. Make better media choices
Support quality independent journalism by paying for it. Subscribe to local or national newspapers and current affairs magazines or donate to nonprofit media like YES! Magazine, The Nation, and Bitch Magazine. Listen to your local independent radio stations. Tune in to programs like Democracy Now!, Rising Up with Sonali, and Frontline.
7. Make a call a day
Calls make a bigger impact than emails. Keep your national, state, and local representatives on speed dial. Stuck in traffic? Have two minutes? Get on the phone.
8. Asset mapping for action
Work with community members to identify and map out community action assets—meeting spaces, people, support groups, printing shops, independent businesses, local organizations, media, religious centers, social services, event venues. Asset maps uncover existing resources and organizing strengths and can be a foundation for building stronger communities.
9. Public presence matters
Show your solidarity. Make it a priority to show up when folks have taken the time and effort to organize events. Attend events, rallies, protests, vigils, workshops, book fairs, lectures, teach-ins, and seminars.
10. Online presence matters, too
Build your online action community. Network with new folks. Use social media platforms to join conversations and pose questions, critiques, and information. Just because followers don’t engage doesn’t mean they aren’t reading.
11. First 100 days: #100DaysofJustice
As inauguration nears, compile a list of 100 actions and challenge yourself to complete one per day for 100 days. Document your progress, share your ideas, and reflect on your efforts using #100DaysofJustice.
12. Pay attention to policy
What bills are moving through your state legislature? Does your city or county have an agreement with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)? Is your city designated a “sanctuary city”? What about your local college campuses? What’s in the works for your region?
13. Think ahead to midterm elections
Campaigns for midterm elections will be underway soon. Consider what local and legislative races are happening in your region. How will you combat voter fatigue? Who’s running and is it close? And speaking of that …
14. Run for office
Now more than ever we need people willing to serve at local, state, and national levels. Thinking about running? Check out resources available through organizations like Emily’s List, Ready to Run, and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.
15. Donate money
• Concerned about reproductive rights? Donate to Planned Parenthood or the SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective .
• Want to support undocumented immigrants? Send donations to Immigrant Youth Justice League or the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
• Want to fight Islamophobia and support efforts to educate the public about Islam and Muslims? Donate to the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).
• Concerned about the future of education? Donate to Rethinking Schools.
• Worried about climate change? Support the Natural Resources Defense Council.
If you’re able, set up recurring donations because that predictability helps nonprofits the most. Short on cash? Donate your time and talent as a volunteer.
16. Share your skills
Are you a graphic designer? Are you bilingual? Can you copy edit? Are you familiar with web design? Share your skills with the community groups and organizations that help grow local and national movements.
17. Be a storyteller
Are you an artist, musician, writer, or photographer? Use your creativity and talent to tell the stories and struggles of your community.
18. Vote with your dollars
Boycotts are powerful. Be conscious of withholding your money from companies that don’t share your values. And do business with companies doing good in the world.
19. Guard your energy
Know when to say yes and when to take a pass. Reserve your time and effort for the actions that fuel you, not the interactions that drain your energy. To avoid burnout, consider what support you need to continue centering action in your life. How do you find balance?
20. Stay loud
People might try to label your actions as “tantrums.”
People might try to diminish you and your work.
Counter groups might spew hate and ignorance.
You might feel despair, anger, disappointment, uncertainty.
You might wonder if it’s worth it. Look around to your friends, your families, your communities.