WHAT YOU CAN DO TO FIGHT HATE
A lot of people right now want to do something to fight the hate and prejudice that seem suddenly rampant, but they don’t know what to do. I find it alarming that in a free and democratic society, this knowledge is not more widely disseminated. We’ve gotten so used to not having to change anything, that we’ve forgotten how one goes about changing things. So here is a short introduction to what YOU can do if you are spurred to action by the current political situation.
- USE YOUR VOICE: Call your senators and reps and tell them how you feel and how you plan to vote. Remember—they work for you. Make sure they realize that. Here’s where you can find out who they are.
- GET YOUR FRIENDS TO DO THE SAME: Not like one friend. Get a LOT of your friends to do the same. Have a calling party. Bring dip. But do it. If someone is shy and doesn’t know what to say, help them come up with a script. If you can gather people together for a party or a book club, you can gather them together for this.
- CONNECT WITH YOUR COMMUNITY: Not just to the people you know will agree with you, but to the people who you know won’t. Family, friends. It’s more important now than ever that we help those who don’t understand realize the consequences of this election. This doesn’t necessarily mean getting into fights on facebook. Have one-on-one conversations where you try to help people understand what’s at stake here. This goes for your community leaders too. Mayors, city officials, school officials and city councilmen. Talk to them, ESPECIALLY if they disagree with you. Let them know that their unwillingness to address problematic policies means that you will fight against their re-election when the time comes.
- TALK TO YOUR RELIGIOUS LEADERS: Whether it’s pastors or preachers or priests or rabbis or imams or clerics. Tell them how you feel. Ask them where they stand. Remind them that their role as community leaders means they have a HUGE say in how others are treated by their community. Remind them of the tenets and spirit of your faith and demand that they uphold that spirit. This can be intimidating because sometimes, when religious figures are trying to defend themselves, they quote scripture or traditional religious wisdom. But guess what—you can quote it right back. Don’t be afraid to do so.
- ORGANIZE AND PROTEST: I’ve seen a lot of people criticizing protests. They talk about everything from “liberals throwing a tantrum” to asking “what’s the point?” The point is that we live in a democratic society where freedom of speech is essential to our freedom. So exercise your freedom of speech. Protest. Organize. Show the leaders of our nation that we do not accept a closed-minded, misogynist, racist and prejudiced view of our country. That we will not support them if they try to push through laws that reflect that type of view. That we will fight them every step of the way. You only have to do a little digging on Facebook or Twitter to figure out where local protests are taking place.
- CREATE SAFE SPACES: This is particularly true if you are a teacher or librarian, but goes for parents, too. Create spaces where children feel free to be themselves. Libraries at lunch time. An after school group. An email chain. A Whatsapp group. You just need some sort of safe place where kids will know they won’t be judged or condemned for who they are or what they believe.
- DONATE: This is probably the easiest thing to do which is why it’s the most far down. But consider the organizations that are going to be on the front lines of protecting our civil and reproductive rights, and let them know you support them by donating to them. And again—use the power of community. Get OTHER people to donate.
- AMPLIFY THE GOOD STUFF: If you see great, thoughtful media coverage, don’t just read it. Post it on your facebook, your insta, your twitter. Talk about it with your friends. Write to the author and the newspaper and TELL THEM THEY NEED TO DO MORE OF THAT TYPE OF JOURNALISM. Don’t let truths become “post-truths.” Fight for the truth to be widely disseminated NOW.
- SPEAK OUT. REACH OUT.: I know it’s hard. I know it’s scary. I know you’ll deal with trolls. I know you just want to talk about your books. I know you just want to be happy again for an hour, a day, a week. But here’s the thing. There are millions of people in this country whose futures are on the line right now. Kids who have already dealt with intense upheaval, and who are now facing more. Parents who fear they might lose their healthcare. Families who are being targeted for what they believe. Kids getting bullied and beat up for being themselves. Laws being proposed that limit what we wear. These. Are. Not. Small. Changes. These changes could culminate in a complete breakdown of democracy and freedom as we know it in this country. So if you ever empathized with Katniss or Rey or Mare or Laia, if there was ever a time where you thought “If I lived in Panem/the Empire/on Tattooine, I would fight”, now is the time to harness those emotions and SPEAK OUT.
- DON’T STOP: One of our biggest enemies right now is the normalization of hate. Miseducation. And most of all: apathy. It is apathy that leads to the downfall of civil liberties, apathy that leads to the election of someone who has sexually assaulted women, apathy that leads to a time when we are looking at things like Roe V. Wade or the Marriage Equality Act and wondering if we will have to watch them crumble. DO NOT BE APATHETIC. DO NOT STOP. This is not a battle that will last a few days. It will last years. So strap on your badassery and settle in for the long-haul.