Originally posted in Peace Action’s Groundswell blog
We all have to do what we can with what we have, where we are, to defend the values and the people we hold close to our hearts. The onset of violence targeting POC in particular immediately following the election is heart breaking and absolutely intolerable. This is not normal. This is not ok. This is hate with unbelievable power.
We elected a man who incites people to violence. That’s our next President. In the words of the indomitable Michelle Obama, we must go higher. We must defend diversity, safety, love, tolerance, respect, kindness. We must take action, and we must take action now for the safety of our communities.
Here’s what you can do, now, where you are, to fight back:
- Build Your Community and Community Values
This is a difficult moment for hundreds of millions of Americans who have already been deeply and personally attacked by the hateful rhetoric and incitement to violence of the Trump campaign. In the immediate term, we need to identify our allies and build our communities, so we can then mobilize into action. Here’s what you can do today:
- Identify 10 friends who are also reeling from the election and invite them over
- Identify community organizations and leader already taking action, or who have done other election-related work, and invite them over to discuss, too.
- At this meeting, talk about:
- Election Results and Reactions: What just happened? How are you feeling? What are your fears? How is your community reacting?
- Community Response: How would you like your community to react? What kind of community do you want to live in? How should your community address your fears?
- Community Values: What kind of community do you want to live in? What values would it exude? Write them down, then, make them known to begin to build a zero tolerance policy for hate speech and violence in your community and community centers.
- Identify your community values statement and places where you can share it.
- Consider: Can you table in a public space with your values statement and have others sign onto it? Can the University President/faith leaders/teachers/PTAs circulate it? Can you create a petition that can be circulated to the entire student body agreeing to the values? Are the values already listed somewhere, and you just need to remind the community of what they are in creative and bold displays?
- Build community consensus around the values and, when people sign up to agree with the community values, ask the people you know, the organizations you are working with, and the community members you meet to sign up to take action to practice and defend those values and your community in ongoing actions.
- Create Community Safe Spaces
There is an immediate need to combat the violence experienced by the communities who have been targeted by Trump’s hateful rhetoric. You can approach community and common spaces, such as businesses and gas stations, to be safe spaces for people to go when they feel threatened by or are experiencing hate speech and/or violence.
These spaces may include: gas stations, churches, coffee shops, retail shops, restaurants, faculty/departmental offices, or somewhere else. You should consider places in particular that are open late or in areas that are not well lit.
- Once you’ve identified your community values, think about what community spaces will defend those values. Can they be spaces where people who are feeling unsafe or have just experienced hate speech/violence can go for help?
- Identify guidelines for these spaces, what the expectations are if someone comes in and needs help. Will they:
- Call the police/public safety (if asked)
- Be a well-lit space for people to stay until a threat has passed/until they can be picked up by an ally
- Let the individual use a phone if they need to, to get a ride home/call a friend.
- Draft these into an agreement for the business owner/representative to consider and to sign.
- How will these safe zones be publicized? Will there be a sticker on an outside window of the building? A larger sign? Will you provide a few options?
- Create lists of safe spaces and other resources (legal, counseling, and others) that you can print out and put up in bathroom stalls, libraries and other spaces where people can view these resources privately (though you may want to make this list public, too – bonus points if it can be distributed in a campus-wide email w/ a values statement)
- Survey your community for allies: Individuals can act as allies, even in the absence of community safe spaces. For example, Fordham students are identifying themselves as allies and identifying students who feel unsafe, so they can be paired. Allies will commute with people who feel unsafe in their community, or accompany them on campus. If allies have a car, they may offer to pick people up from spaces where they feel unsafe. Click here for the google doc they created to identify allies & people who need their support.
- Join Community Activists Already Providing Safe Spaces Through Direct Service
There are communities that are being targeted broadly and in violent acts by individuals as part of the incitement to violence of the Donald Trump campaign. Here are some actions you should consider taking to support them, and to build a broader progressive community to take political action in the future:
- Volunteer at a homeless shelter near you
- Escort women safely into and out of clinics providing abortions near you
- Volunteer at a refugee resettlement center, like the IRC, in your community (even offer to host a Thanksgiving Dinner in your home for newly resettled refugees!)
- Help children with special needs by volunteering at an organization like Best Buddies or The Friendship Circle.
- Volunteer at a crisis line, like Suicide Prevention Life Line.
- Donate to NGOs and non-profits to support the advocacy and community service work you care about. Many of these organizations rely on individual donors for their work. Consider donating to Peace Action, or any of these Pro-Women, Pro-Immigrant, Pro-Earth, and Anti-Bigotry Organizations.
- Boycott Trump
Trump owes his success in this election in part to his unreasonable wealth and to the wealthy who stood by him. The best way to send a message to them is through their pocketbooks, which is why Shaun King and other movement leaders are organizing a boycott of Trump enterprises and the companies that supported his campaign.
Companies to boycott include: The Home Depot, Hobby Lobby, NE Patriots, TD Bank, Chicago Cubs, New Balance, UFC, PayPal, Pep Boys, Herbalife, Trump Hotels (and all Trump products/enterprises) and MillerCoors, which producers Miller beers, Coors beers, Crispin Hard Cider, and Blue Moon.
- Organize Teach-Ins to Promote and Practice Solidarity
This election made clear that privileged persons need to actively pursue and practice being an active ally for the most marginalized groups. You and your group can practice being an ally and strengthen current struggles for human rights by organizing a teach-in for your community and for your group – 10 or 25 or 100 people, these trainings will make an impact. Here are the resources to get you started:
- #NoDAPL: Curriculum Available Here
The Standing Rock Sioux are resisting the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) to protect their land and water. The 1,200 mile propose pipeline threatens the traditional and treaty-guaranteed Great Sioux Nation territory, and recent U.S. environmental regulations. This pipeline is a continuation of the U.S. stealing of indigenous land to feed wealth instead of human needs. The pipeline is opposed by a broad coalition of environmental, human rights organizations, with indigenous leaders centered in the struggle for their land, safety and rights. Their peaceful resistance has been met by a militarized police presence and violence.
- #BlackLivesMatter: Curriculum Available Here
The Black Lives Matter movement is a direct response to the brutalized killings of innocent black men and women by a militarized police force and the systematic racism of a justice system that will not hold anyone accountable for crimes against people of color. The movement was founded by Opal Tometi, Patrice Cullors and Alicia Garza and has sparked national conversation and policy shifts in addressing racial inequality and systemic injustice. The Black Lives Matter Syllabus is the intellectual property of instructor Frank Leon Roberts.
- I Am Not Afraid: Curriculum Available Here
The #IAmNotAfraid curriculum is a direct response to the misogyny, racism, xenophobia and incitements to violence of the Trump campaign. It focuses on building conversations and addressing fears following the election of Trump among young people aged 18-25, noting in particular their overwhelming support for progressive values, as indicated by their voting record in the 2016 election. The curriculum then notes the powerful movements of our generation, starting with Occupy Wall St, then charting what individuals can bring to a resistance movement and what actions they will take as a community.
- Call and Write to your Elected Representatives Telling Them to Defend These Campaigns and Stand Up to Trump. Ask if they can commit to defending the campaigns and issues you care about, which could include immigration, reduced military spending, ending the militarization of the police, stopping drone strikes, defending UN funding, fighting climate change, promoting women’s rights and the rights of the disabled, and so many other issues that Trump has degraded. We have resources to help you make that ask on our website.
- Intervening as an Ally: Learn How to Protect Yourself and Others
Many of today’s current protests are being met with a militarized police force and shut down with violence – and many of the communities protesting are at the greatest risk of personal violence, both in protests and in their schools and their communities. Here’s what you can do to take action and intervene to create a zero tolerance policy for hate speech and violence:
- Non-Violent Direct Action: Resources Here from War Resisters League (including legal resources in case of arrest)
Non-violent direct actions, also called civil disobedience, are techniques outside of institutionalized behavior that challenge unjust power dynamics using methods of protest, noncooperation and intervention without the use or threat of injurious force. You may be met with a militarized police force, and trainings in non-violent direct action share how to meet that confrontation with non-violence to reduce the likelihood of escalation.
These actions are powerful, and have included: activists against the Keystone Pipeline refusing to leave the offices of companies supporting the pipeline, Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of the bus, #BLM activists blockading streets. For more resources, including training guides, click here.
- Intervene to Stop Hate Speech: Resources Here from Bust.Com
If you see someone being verbally harassed, don’t be a bystander. Make it clear that harassment is not tolerated in your community, or by you, by following a few clear steps to change the conversation with the person being verbally attacked, and if necessary, use the excuse of conversation to move that person away from the individual lashing out. A step by step guide is available in the link above.
- Intervene to Stop Violence: Resources Here from Quartz.com
If you see someone being physically assaulted or threatened, you can intervene to de-escalate the situation. No one wants you to intervene if you know you will also experience violence from that intervention, but consider the types of privilege you have and how they may protect you when you intervene. There are ways to intervene to de-escalate a violent situation that are across a spectrum of confrontation. Please see the link above and the link on intervening to stop hate speech to read about different strategies of intervention.
- Learn About Taking Action to Influence Policy Makers: Resources Here from former Congressional Staffer
Trump will introduce policies that we will need to fight back against by lobbying through: letters, calls, petitions and meetings with our elected Representatives. Here are resources compiled by Peace Action New York State on writing those letters, making those calls and scheduling those meetings – and links to some creative action ideas, too.
- Plug into Larger Movements and Movement Events
Your power can be amplified by plugging into similar groups of activists across the country in movement-building coalitions and events. Here are some groups you may want to follow and actions you might want to be a part of:
- Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER): Protest at the Inauguration and Stand Against Trump Click Here for Facebook Event
The ANSWER coalition is organizing a massive protest on inauguration day 2017, calling on progressive people from across the country to stage a massive demonstration against Trump. Over 8000 people have RSVPed as attending. More information on transportation is available here.
- Women’s March on Washington: Click Here for Facebook Event
Coalitions of women’s rights organizations from across the country are organize a march to the Lincoln Memorial the day after the inauguration. “We stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”
The national event page is linked above, and it has links in the event description to pages for individual states, where travel is being organized.
- Know What to Do at a Protest
If you have not mobilized in a protest before: welcome! The vast majority of protests are completely safe demonstrations of community values to shape political action. We’re more impactful with more people and we’re glad you’re a part of movements on the streets. To stay safe, consider these tips: make sure someone not at the protest knows where you are, bring a small amount of cash with you, travel light, make sure your phone is charged. If you think there is a possibility of being arrested, write the number of a legal resource hotline on your arm. The National Lawyer’s Guild number is: 212-679-6018.
7. Join and Follow Organizations Whose Work You Believe In
Organizations institutionalize knowledge that let us build people power and organize it for strategic and large-scale action. Be sure to join organizations that you believe in, and follow them on Facebook, so you can take action and support the causes you believe in, not only today, and not only because of Trump, but tomorrow and next year and ten years from now.
Kate Alexander is Director of Policy and Outreach at Peace Action New York State & Peace Action Fund of New York State.