How To Be An Activist
*FYI submissions for Fahrenheit 11/9 are still being accepted. It can be anything from poetry, essays, art, quotes, etc. You can send your pieces to firstname.lastname@example.org.*
During times like these, there can be an overflow of information, and people often don’t know where to start. I have compiled a some steps for you to take to raise your voice.
Here is a list of ways that you can become an activist in today’s political climate:
1. Know Your Rights-there’s a lot of scary stuff happening right now, and a lot of stuff that’s against the constitution. Take a look at the Know Your Rights page on the ACLU website. It has everything from what to do if you’re stopped by police to what to do if immigration agents are at your door. You can also buy pocket constitutions and know your rights cards from them.
2. Get Informed-Opinions articles will always have their rightful place in journalism, but there is a reason why you keep hearing about fake news. Continue to read opinions/editorial articles, but make sure to get most of your information from sources that try to remain as neutral as they can and/or show both sides of an argument. There is a clear difference between leaning to one side and pure sensationalism. Good examples include The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, and PBS.
3. Take A Look In The Mirror-what are your strengths? What are you good at? Whether you are a writer, organizer, filmmaker, artist, good with kids, etc, find your niche and talk about your experiences. It may seem small, but every voice out there matters and makes a difference. Also, find an issue that you feel the most passionate about and become an expert on it. Knowing all there is to know on one thing is better than knowing barely anything on every issue.
4. Get Local-Washington is far away and seems very out of control, so I advise you to discover local organizations at the city, school and statewide level. What happens there is what you have the most control over and what will affect you the most directly. Call your legislators and senators and express your opinions about issues and bills–even if they don’t personally agree with you, it puts pressure on them. If you are an Arizona resident, you can create a request to speak account on the AZ legislature website. If an unjust bill like this one is about to pass the House or Senate, you can request to speak at its hearing and even state you position on it from the computer. The legislature tries its best to keep the public from being informed so I check the website as often as I can to see when committees are meeting. So as not to feel overwhelmed I particularly focus on the House and Senate Education committees.
5. Nonprofit/Grassroots Work-look up local nonprofits and get involved. They are the most effective change agents. Start a group at your school or in your community. If your looking for grassroots organizations on the national level, People Power is absolutely amazing. It is “…the ACLU’s new effort to engage grassroots volunteers across the country and take the fight against Donald Trump’s policies not just into the courts, but into the streets.” I just got off their volunteer training phone call, and I truly believe it will be a powerful force for change. Also, if you have a chronic illness or for any reason can’t be super mobile, it is very inclusive in its opportunities for participation. If you are aged 16-24, you can also apply to be a part of the Representation Project’s Global Youth Advisory Council, a youth mobilization effort to end limiting stereotypes in the media.
Lastly, here are some important events to watch out for:
- March 8: A Day Without A Woman. Also follow the Women’s March in general because they are amazing.
- March 11: People Power resistance trainings are happening all over the country. They will be releasing a map of the different huddles soon.
- April 15: marches to protest the fact that Donald Trump won’t release his tax returns are happening all over the country
- April 22: Marches for Science are happening all over the country
- Be sure to check out Michael Moore’s Resistance Calendar
And lastly, don’t forget to stay safe and take care of yourself. As Gloria Steinem once told me, “Focus not on what you should do but what you can do.” Every little action counts.
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