A couple weeks ago, a bunch of my friends on Facebook checked into the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Reservation in North Dakota. Knowing that the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline was still ongoing, I originally thought that a bunch of my friends had actually gone to join the fight and I had missed something big. The reality though was that people were just checking in on Facebook while not actually there as a way to stand in solidarity with those on the ground and potentially confuse anyone who was using Facebook check ins as a way to target activists.
While not something that the Standing Rock Sioux tribe had asked (and at this point, I’m not sure where the mass check in originated), the tribe did welcome the solidarity. Raising awareness by sharing videos, checking into places on Facebook, or dumping buckets of ice on our head can be important but they can’t be the only actions that we accomplish. There’s so much more work that goes into fixing the problems and issues that plague our society. Everyone’s activism is going to look different – some people aren’t able to go to marches but can help to make banners, others are able to organize community meals or do phone banks.
Here are some ways to help:
Physically show up.
This can mean physically going to places like the Scared Rock or Red Warrior Camp. This can also mean going to one of the many solidarity marches happening all over the country or going to other marches and rallies. But it should also be noted that when going to other protests and meetings, remember that if you’re white, any violent actions you take will probably have negative consequences to the people of color around you. You might destroy property as a way of protest but the police and opponents will crucify and blame the black and brown people around you.
White folks: don’t behave recklessly at protests.
You endanger Black and Brown people, who police usually grab first.
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) 10 November 2016
Showing up can also be walking with people of color to provide some safety if someone wants it or interjecting in some way when seeing negative interactions. There’s a comic circulating about what to do if you witness Islamophobia in public and the artist behind it insists, among other things, not interacting with the attacker and to respect the wishes of the person you’re helping.
If you’re not able to physically show up to places like North Dakota, there are still ways to financially help the camps or movements. Others might need help getting to North Dakota and there are legal funds for various activists. Similarly, donate to your favorite writers and those who have helped you with your understanding of race and racism – their labor should not be free.
(Some) Organizations and people to support:
- Planned Parenthood – someone even recommended filling it out so that the vice president elect receives a receipt/certificate of the donation and apparently the organization has received around 20,000 donations in his name since the election.
- Sacred Stone Camp
- Black Girl Dangerous
- The Transgender, Gender variant, Intersex Justice Project
- Sylvia Rivera Law Project
- Audre Lorde Project
*These are just some organizations – there are many more to support!
Donate other resources and act in support.
This can mean offering rides to grocery stores or doctor appointments, making meals for people, sharing books to help others learn about issues. And as mentioned before, this can also mean intervening in some way when others are being verbally attacked while out in public (but be wary of calling the police – doing so could negatively impact the very people you’re trying to help). Surviving day to day is just as important as protesting and seeing how many stories of harassment and intimidation have come out since the election night, it’s important now to make sure that the people around you are safe.
Similarly, I know that some immigrant rights organizations also occasionally ask for support during a deportation hearing. This can mean calling or writing letters on behalf of someone facing deportation or showing up during the court date. Organizations like the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice in Portland or the New Sanctuary movement in various cities might need help like this.
Put pressure on your elected officials.
This is more than just in Congress or federal level, although learning who your senator and representative is critical. There are other officials on a state and local level who have a significant role in the day to day life of everyone in the US. One person on Twitter mentioned that calling is one of the most effective ways to reach the elected officials – the tweet thread is below.
I worked for Congress for 6 years, and here’s what I learned about how they listen to constituents.
— Emily Ellsworth (@editoremilye) 12 November 2016
Grassroots organizations will often do lobbying (for lack of a better word), where people will go to the state capitol or even city councils to talk with the state and city elected officials about issues and how they impact their lives. I’ve gone once before and it is a great experience to not only talk with officials and staff but learn a little more about how everything works.
Learn, share, and continue focusing on the issues.
An important part of this though, like any sort allyship, is listening to the people on the ground and most impacted by the said issue. Center the stories and experiences of people of color. Share the articles that have already been written while not demanding free labor from the people of color around you. And if you’re white like me, talking to other white people about issues like race is more vital now than ever.
I don’t have all the ways to be involved nor are the ways I share inherently mine. Blogs like noDAPLsolidarity offer other and often specific ways to help. There are countless people online who offer other ways as well, including:
- If you’re overwhelmed by the election, here’s what you can do now – Jenna Amatulli
- How to be an advocate to the people Trump might harm – Leah Thomas
- Concrete suggestions in preparation for January 2017’s change in American government (google doc)
- 6 things you can do to support LGBTQ people now – Alex Berg
- Your friends and relatives did this – now what do you do? – Derrick Lemos
- Okay, fine. Here’s what you should do post-election – Ruby-Beth Buitekant
- White friends: a list of what you can do – siliconphospho (on Twitter)
I originally started writing this before the election night but all of these things will be just as vital when the 45th president is sworn in next January and now as racist and other hateful attacks are perpetrated. Coming together as a community and supporting each other is important now and will be just as important later on.
And as I was writing this, the trend of wearing a safety pin to indicate that you’re an ally has taken hold but there are some problems with it. Some white supremacists co-opted it as a way to deceive some and some people of color have said that just wearing the pin is not enough and kind of embarrassing. It’s a passive way in which to be an ally and soothe our ever growing desire to be seen as good but being an actual ally means a whole lot more. It’s important to have actions to go along with the safety pin, otherwise it’s just a passive way to feel slightly better.
There’s a lot of work to do now and in the next few weeks and years but it’s important that we (looking at you fellow white folks) do the work. The ways I’ve written about here are just some of the things we should and need to be doing but they aren’t the only things. There are so many ways to push back but it’s important that we actively push back in ways that are concrete and active but don’t put others (especially marginalized folks) in danger.