In light of last weekend’s events in Charlottesville – by which I mean a domestic terrorist plowing through a crowd of counter-protestors, killing Heather Heyer – I thought it would be trite to make my second Friday Five about my favorite podcasts or five ways to eat cauliflower. Instead, I’m giving you five ways you can take action against the rise of the alt-right, white nationalists, neo-Nazis, or whatever cute nickname you have for the racist, nationalist trash rising out of the gutters of this country.
Feel free to add more ideas in the comments, and please note that I will be monitoring the comments because, in case it hasn’t occurred to you already, a vegan feminist blog is not a safe place for bigots.
1. Support the Victims
There is an official GoFundMe benefitting the victims of Saturday’s attack. It has surpassed it’s original modest goal, but imagine the medical expenses that 19 people who were hit by a car are racking up. This fundraiser has been cited on many reputable news sources, so I feel confidant that the funds raised will go to the appropriate people. I have also seen GoFundMe campaigns for individual victims.
2. Educate Yourself
I’ve seen my Google analytics. I know that the majority of people who read this blog are white women. To the people of color here, none of this is news to you, feel free to call me out if I fuck it up. Being an ally goes beyond acknowledging your privilege. Being an ally does not mean posting memes or photo ops at a rally. While you should acknowledge your privilege, and sharing ideas online and attending rallies are all good things to do – don’t expect a trophy for being “a good white person.”
That being said, don’t count on people of color to educate you. It’s not their job. There are plenty of lists out there about books you can read to be a better ally to people of color, to women of color, and to the LGBTQ community. Read them. Bonus points if you read them without Instagramming them next to a matcha latte or whatever.
Also in this category, I’d say to my fellow white people – don’t get offended. There are going to be generalities spoken and if they don’t apply to you, don’t get riled up about them. If someone says “white people are racist” but you aren’t racist, it’s not about you, move on. If someone says “white women voted for Trump” but you did not, no need to wave that flag, just keep on keepin’ on. You don’t have to tell people you’re one of the good ones – prove it. Oh, and if you do get called out on something by a member of a marginalized group, take the time to try and understand why.
3. Engage With Real, Actual Humans
Fighting with weirdos on the internet is super fun, I’m not going to lie. But as satisfying as it is to sick burn an egg avatar on Twitter, it’s futile. Instead, combat prejudice in your own social circle, and in your family. Don’t let racists jokes slide at Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t let your aunt use the phrase “those people.” Compare Islam to Christianity when your dad starts going on about terrorists, show him that the similarities outweigh the differences. The most important thing you can do, and maybe the best use of white privilege, is to stop those microaggressions, and stop normalizing hatred and fear. Yes, it will get awkward. Yes, your mom will probably get mad at you. But the people being dehumanized by those microaggressions would take feeling awkward over being afraid any day – so stand up for them.
4. Build Your Community
After the election, local government bodies across the country saw a surge of interest from women. The same should be true in times like this. Whether you go through the steps of actually running for office, volunteering for a candidate you believe in, or you find your local chapter of Council on American-Islamic Relations, or Black Lives Matter, or any grassroots organization – your hands and mind and body are needed! If marching through the streets isn’t for you, volunteer your time in after school programs that help to shape kids into compassionate people. Bonus: volunteering your time is an excellent way to alleviate that feeling of helplessness that can overtake you when it seems like the whole world has lost it’s damn mind.
5. Give What You Can
A t-shirt featuring a snarky comment about the president is fun to own, but consider instead throwing that $25 toward any of the numerous organizations that are working to combat hatred, defend the innocent, uphold our constitutional rights, and reform those who have been swallowed up by hate groups. There are so many I can’t list them all here, but a few you may not know about include Southern Poverty Law Center, Life After Hate, and Indigenous Environmental Network. Like I said – there are SO MANY amazing organizations, these are just a few. Feel free to comment about your favorites.
This really only scratches the surface, guys, but I’ve seen so many friends already talking about feeling drained and emotionally spent and not knowing what to do – so here’s a start. Whenever you start feeling drained, keep in mind that just because this fight is new to you, doesn’t mean marginalized people have not been fighting it for decades and decades. Because they have. So chin up, dudes. Let’s do this.