Advent Calendar for Social Justice

Check out the Advent Calendar for Social Justice here!

We have one month left before we’re in 2017, and although it’s tempting to just curl up into a ball until it’s over, we know that we need to prepare to live in a Trump world. (For the many people who see how this year has just pulled back the mask on what wasn’t all that well hidden to begin with – I hear you. I’m sorry it’s taking some of us so long to figure it out.) Okay, so let’s live in this world, let’s make it as good as we possibly can, and let’s do it together.

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I used to be a weekly churchgoer, and the rhythms of the church year still echo in my life. The season leading up to Christmas is called Advent. Advent is a time of preparation, during which Christians prepare for the coming of the savior of the world. They prepare for the end of the world as we know it and the arrival of a better world we can barely imagine. This year, we are preparing for what certainly feels like the end of the world, and it’s hard to see anything beyond it. Trump is the opposite of a savior, no matter how he brands himself in his populist speeches. So this year we need to prepare ourselves to be our own saviors, to save ourselves from what we’ve allowed to happen. (I’m speaking mostly to my fellow straight white cis folks here – people of color and queer folk have been doing the heavy lifting since forever.)

This election seems to have served as a wake-up call for many of us. It’s not right that it took a loss that will devastate so many lives and alter the fabric of our democracy to serve as such, but here we are. So now what? is the question I see most frequently on Facebook, Twitter, in the news. There are a lot of good answers out there, from better thinkers than I. Read them, discuss them with friends and family, take action.

But for what it’s worth, here is my “what now?” response. Advent is a time of preparation, so let’s prepare. For each day of December, I’m going to take concrete action that makes me more prepared to resist the Trump presidency, or that offers some resistance now, or that contributes something good and kind to the world. Some of these actions can be done anywhere in the world, and some are US-specific.

I also think it’s important to do a mix of overtly political and more community-building or “good deeds” type things. Especially if you haven’t been politically active before, you may find this a little intimidating, but what we’ve seen from the way Trump’s campaign was run, and now after the election, is that white supremacy, misogyny, xenophobia, and homophobia play a prominent role in people’s political decisions and everyday lives. Coaching Little League builds community, yes, please keep doing that — but also see how you can assist your local Black Lives Matter chapter, to build community in that way as well. And artists — keep creating, always. Artists are vital.

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Will you join me for this month? Especially for people who wouldn’t normally consider themselves political, or who don’t have much experience with activism, I tried to make this an accessible collection of things to do that will show how easy it is to fit these things into our busy lives, and how it’s not that scary to do.

If you have suggestions, please comment. Share this with anyone you like. The key is to take action, and to do it together. So call your mom, talk to your coworker, make a new friend, and go all in. As Angela Davis recently said, “How do we begin to recover from this shock? By experiencing and building and rebuilding and consolidating community. Community is the answer.”

Here is where I was going to put the calendar, but I can’t get it to embed. So please click through to the Advent Calendar for Social Justice. Be sure to click on each day to see notes and useful links with further info for each action item.

This calendar is intended as a helpful tool for people who want to do something, but aren’t sure where to start. I hope it will help you sample different ways of taking action, so that in the new year, you’ll be better prepared to really dig in to volunteering, donating, and organizing roles. I’d love your feedback. I consider it a live document and will adjust it as necessary.

Shout-out to Liz and Emmett for providing excellent advice and action items.

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Resources for Educating Yourself and Taking Action:
Accomplices Not Allies
A List of Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, Anti-Bigotry Organizations That Need Your Support
Oh Crap! What Now? A Survival Guide
Opportunities for White People in the Fight for Racial Justice
“We’re His Problem Now” Calling Sheet
What Educators Can Do to Support Undocumented Students
What to Do Instead of Calling the Police

Organizations Fighting the Good Fight:
350
American Civil Liberties Union
Amnesty International
Black Lives Matter
Campaign Zero
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Emily’s List
National Center for Transgender Equality
National Coalition for the Homeless
National Disability Rights Network
National Women’s Law Center
Planned Parenthood
Showing Up for Racial Justice
Southern Poverty Law Center
Sylvia Rivera Law Project
The True Colors Fund
Welcoming Refugees

Image 1. Image 2. Image 3.

 

The Good, The Bad, and The Silly

The Good

Older news now, but Obama’s Administration has changed the rules for all hospitals participating in Medicare and Medicaid: people can now choose their hospital visitors, including same-sex partners.

Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor is making public her objections to the Court refusing to hear appeals from criminal defendants. She’s laying the groundwork for the Court to hear such appeals in the future.

Jimmy Johns, a tasty sandwich company with awful political connections, has been trying to block its employees from forming a union, but the workers have just won a big legal victory in getting the company-rigged union elections nullified so they can continue organizing. The best part about this is how the union is focusing on a “10 Point Program” to improve worker conditions across the fast food industry as a whole. I know a lot of people are wary of unions, and much has been made of abuses by union bosses and the like, but the fact is that every study done of union versus non-union workers in comparable industries shows a much higher quality of life for union workers, and that is an American dream we should all be able to get behind.

An organization called Common Ground is making huge progress to eliminate homelessness in major cities across the nation. It’s an exciting project and one that works because they get out on the street and talk to homeless people as if they’re people, rather than numbers, which is the only way to do it.

I vaguely knew that the 14th Amendment was fought over by white feminists and abolitionists, but I did not know the greater context of the legal implications of using “he” but never “male” in the Constitution.  Maria Bustillos has a great piece up on how the lack of a gender-neutral pronoun in English figures prominently in American history, and how that figures into Scalia’s repugnant discussion of the 14th Amendment today. (Also, by the way, I disagree that “he” should be the gender-neutral pronoun norm, but I’ve never heard of academics using “she” instead. What’s wrong with “s/he,” which is what I was taught to use?)

The Bad

You know, the Illinois legislature is passing a huge state income tax increase so that we can find money for the basics, but somehow the state of Kentucky, which is surely in dire financial straits as well, has found $43 million for creationist theme park.

The Wall Street Journal published an upsetting article about “why Chinese mothers are the best kind,” and Latoya Peterson and other authors take the whole thing apart brilliantly.

97.5% of women with HIV/AIDS in Brazil have experienced violence, which is a staggering and sickening number. Feministing has some links to actions you can take to help.

I forgot to include this in last week’s G, B, S segment about the plutocracy we live (as opposed to the democracy we think we live in): Nicholas Kristof wrote about it from his perspective as an international journalist back in November.

The Silly

Who knew an interview with a lawyer about island law and the history of bird poop could be so fascinating?

A fun imaginary game: what would season 2 of Freaks and Geeks have looked like? I love the Nick-as-minor-local-celebrity-for-a-week idea; I can totally see him thinking it’s bigger than it is and buying a new jacket to fit his new cool rock star persona, only to be crushed when his popularity fades.

Here’s an interesting read on how comedy is the only effective remedy for one writer’s depression. The healing power of humor, etc. Here’s the longer cut of the interviews she did with stand-up comedians.