What you can do to fight bigotry and intolerance

If you're anything like me you may have been caught in a fog of inertia and helplessness since President 45 took office. His first week as leader of the free world has made plain his hatred for almost everyone and everything - women, Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants in general, and the environment. As far as I can see all he cares about are white people, preferably rich, old and male. I've been in a freefall of buying crap I don't need to try to soothe the reality of this, but there IS no soothing this, not with material things anyway.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. - Martin Luther King 

The only thing that seems to help in any small way is spending time on social media with people who are just as incredulous as me that this is actually happening. Now is the time to act while we still can. I may not be as fully informed about world affairs as I would like, but I have to use my platform to talk about this. I want you to see a couple of things before I go on, especially if you're wondering why I - a white Englishwoman safe from most forms of bigotry - cares what's going on halfway across the world.

1. The Hangman by Maurice Ogden (link)

This poem is a long read, but illustrates perfectly how the wolf chooses the sheep indiscriminately, and changes what it targets.

2. First they came... by Martin Niemoller.

I care because a world which elevates some people against others is an unjust world. I care because EVERYONE should be assumed to have the same rights and freedoms under the law. No one should be assumed to have less rights than another because of the colour of their skin, their religion, their sexuality, their gender or the way they present it, or the country they come from. I won't get caught up in apathy because people different to me are being hurt, are having their freedoms taken away, are having the right to travel freely taken away from them. If one bleeds we should all bleed. If terrible human rights violations are happening anywhere in the world it's a travesty and we should rail against it. Nothing happens in a vacuum. Brexit leads to Trump, Trump leads to ....... well, what can be worse than Trump? My point is that fascism is buoyed up by fascism in other countries. The world should be watching with bated breath to see what Trump does next, and people who only care about people who look like them, worship like them, come from their country are as bad as the oppressors themselves. If we only care about people 'like us' we are awful human beings.

I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own. - Audre Lorde

So what can we do?

If you're in the UK, write to your MP. https://www.writetothem.com/
Write to Prime Minister Theresa May. https://email.number10.gov.uk/

Americans can call their representatives and senators. This site here has phone scripts to help you speak about various issues. Add your name to this petition to have Donald Trump impeached. Everyone else, check for protests and petitions to sign in your countries.

Jezebel has compiled a huge master list of associations to donate to, which are pro-women, pro-immigrant, pro-Earth, anti-bigotry. Donate to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union). https://action.aclu.org/secure/donate-to-aclu

Get involved - share social media posts. That's the easy part. The harder part is living our social justice - volunteer in the community if you have the time, energy and physical ability. Talk to people everywhere - at the bus stop, in the post office, at the dinner table. You may not change minds initially but you may make them think a little, set off a spark, and open minds are wonderful things. Donate goods/money locally if you can't volunteer, and if you can't do that tell your friends about worthy charities in your community. Buy from charity shops at every opportunity. Donate food to those charity bins at your local supermarket. Donate money/food to local food banks. Go to local protests and mass scale city protests if you can. Care somehow, as long as you care.

As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality persist in our world, none of us can truly rest. - Nelson Mandela

Read up - educate yourselves - here is a good place to start, especially this. (I will be reading as much from this huge list of resources as possible in the coming months). Scrutinise social media for links to useful articles about current events, but avoid newspapers like the Daily Mail who glorify Nazis, Trump, xenophobia and hatred. Shun news channels who call Nazis the 'alt right' and try to glamourise their vile beliefs. Follow people who have social justice issues at the forefront. Shaun King is one of my faves.

Listen to the voices of the people being persecuted. It sucks but white voices are listened to more than the voices of the marginalised people directly affected by bigotry. White people should speak up but ALWAYS defer to the people actually going through this hell and signal boost what they say. (Yes, the irony is I'm just another white person talking). Straight people can be allies to LGBTQIA people but should always defer to them, and boost what they say, and so on. Please link me to posts from marginalised people who've written about this so I can link to them within this post. Likewise please let me know any information I've missed.

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. - Desmond Tutu

There is no 'us' and 'them'. There are good hearts in all colours, creeds, religions, countries, sexualities. Stand up and be counted, even if like me you're far from perfect, and don't really know what to do but want to do something. Don't stand with the oppressors. Trying to be a better human starts here in earnest. Now the hard work begins, but the world needs it.

Passivity is the same as defending injustice. - Deepak Chopra

*Edited to say, it's important to do no more than your mental health will allow. It's exhausting to ponder deeply the ills of the world. Look after yourselves, too.*

Thanks for reading.
Leah xoxo

No comments