Take Action to Support Voting Rights

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Americans are proud of the democracy we live in — or at least, the one we think we live in. Many people think of poll taxes and other forms of voter suppression as things of the past, but there’s a frightening amount of it going on today.  In order for “register your protest in the voting booth” to work, we need fair elections accessible to all voters. Registration deadlines will be here before you know it. Here are some easy but crucial things you can do to help!
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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:
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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

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The Good, The Bad, and The Silly

The Good

Okay, it’s not good that these wanted posters for abortion providers are making a comeback. But it is good that Flip Benham is being found guilty in a court of law for posting these dangerous, vile things.

Michelle and Barack get down in Indonesia! Love it.

I know I read in some Forster novel (I think it was Howards End) an argument among hoity-toities about the foolishness of just giving money to poor people, instead of attaching strings to tell them how to spend it. But those characters may have been on to something — apparently giving people even a dollar a day that they can spend any way they like is more effective than any other program at getting more poor kids in school, for example. Sure, some people will spend that money on drugs or drink, but so will some people who work in an office, and you don’t see us stipulating how salaries are spent. Most of the time, though, people just want money to feed, shelter, and clothe their families, and this is one way to help them do that.

The Bad

Damn it, government officials who knowingly destroy evidence of government wrongdoing should be prosecuted for their crimes, not given a free pass. But the Obama administration disagrees.

This is a month late, but it’s still worth seeing this compilation of hateful, untrue, and dangerous things that Tea Partiers have said. You know they’ll be back in 2012. Know your enemy, etc.

Oh don’t worry, John Shikmus (R-IL), who hopes to chair the House Energy Committee, reassures us, “The earth will end only when God declares its time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.” I’m so very comforted.

The organization that Thurgood Marshall called the “uptown Klan” is funding some schools in Mississippi. Take action to ask the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools why it accredits those schools and encourage the corporations that donate to the MAIS to make sure their donations aren’t being funneled to white supremacist, anti-gay schools.

Ask the Obama administration to change its policy on not sending condolence letters to the families of servicemembers who died by suicide. (I especially like Melissa’s point that there are many deaths in the military that are called suicide that may be anything but.)

The Silly

Here’s a cool interview with Brian Eno, a man more equipped than most to coax new and interesting sounds out of any machine on hand. I like what he says about how different forms of listening to music affect how we listen to music and also the music itself, and how he’s getting more and more interested in studio sessions that don’t sound quite so perfect.

Leave your interesting links in the comments, as usual, and have a great weekend!