Isn’t freedom of speech a thing of beauty?
This past week, we at That’s Normal chronicled our experience during this historical event, and even took you front and center to the mother march in Washington, D.C. And while I’m still in the afterglow of that beautiful moment, the reality of our situation is still happening.
Immediately on Monday, the new administration began issuing executive orders that at first made many of us either want to call our doctor about a possible ulcer (that would be me) or draw up blueprints for an apocalypse bunker (also me). But then I remembered:
Whew. Thanks, Mama Michelle.*
*Michelle, it’s your good friend, Julie. I’m just saying: Obama 2020 is your year. Doesn’t President Michelle Obama sound amazing?
I’m choosing to go high and stay high. Not that “high,” but it is legal now in California, so…just kidding.
Now, I know that it takes more than just an angry tweet or a reposting of a thought piece on Facebook to make change. It takes more than just opting into a non-profit email or joining Pantsuit Nation with the hopes that your picture with you rocking your “I Voted” sticker gets posted. It definitely takes more than just a single march.
But where do we go from here? What is the next step? How can we make the message that we sent to Washington, D.C. resonate long after the march is over? Well, I’m glad you asked.
10 Actions in 100 Days
Immediately after Saturday’s march, the March Team launched the campaign 10 Actions/100 Days.
For this campaign, the goal is to take a different action every ten days. The first action? Simply send a postcard to the people we put in charge – our senators – with a message about what rights need to be protected.
Wondering if you should finally dust off that stationary you received as a college graduation gift – even though you graduated fifteen years ago? Don’t worry: they provided downloadable postcards and note cards.
And for those who can’t find the right words, there are even ready-to-mail postcards available through Ink Cards. All you have to do is add a photo, your address, and the senator who will be lucky enough to see that photo of you and your best friend holding your homemade signs.
Throw in some bottles of rosé, put on some Taylor Swift, invite your friends over and you have an epic ladies’ (and guys’ too because men who support strong, independent women are hot) night.
Donate, Donate, Donate!
No doubt, you’ve seen a PBS telethon and changed the channel or switched to a music station when your local NPR affiliate is doing their annual donation drive. We need to face it: many of us, including yours truly, take our public broadcast television and radio for granted.
My version of March Madness: Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster v. Wait, Wait! Don’t Tell Me’s Carl Kasell
One of the possible cuts we could see in the next four years is the privatization the Corporation of Public Broadcasting, which include both PBS and NPR. Great. I guess we may never know how to get to Sesame Street.
The National Endowment of the Arts is also on the chopping block, and with it various art and music programs for the young and the young at heart.
The NEA, which only receives approximately .004% of the annual federal budget, believes that the arts are not just for those who can afford front-row seats at a Saturday evening production of Hamilton. The diversity of the NEA ranges from children puppetry programs in urban areas to music therapy for refugees in rural communities.
If this isn’t enough to shake you to your core, there are plans to cut funding for women domestic violence programs, legal services for the poor, and various science and environmental programs. Here’s a more detailed list. Be warned, this list will make you act immediately.
How do we get the message to Washington that these programs, and many more, contribute to the advancement of our country?
We need to donate.
Whether it is our money – from even the smallest monetary contribution – or our time, our donations speak volumes. Make a gift donation to your favorite organization. Take those books that you have read and drop them off at your local library. Pick up the phone and make a one-time pledge during a fund drive. Donate your energy and time to your local women’s shelter.
Whatever you do and no matter the size, it will make an impact. And if you do donate, you can finally say “You’re welcome” when PBS thanks “Viewers Like You.”
Become an Ally
By now, you’ve seen the images of the marches in D.C., Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, practically every corner of the United States, and all over the world. Each image celebrating different races, religions, sexual orientation coming together for a single cause.
But if there could be one lesson to learn from the march – and trust me, there were so many to learn – then let it be this: we need to be each other’s ally.
I’m fortunate: I grew up in a loving household, with a mother and a father who are still happily married to this day. My parents encouraged me to be my own person, financially supported me when I couldn’t, and went above and beyond for me even when I was not completely grateful. I was loved, celebrated, and never wanted for anything. But my story isn’t everyone’s story.
Yes, as a female I have experienced discrimination. Ask any female teacher, and she will likely tell you a story about a student – most likely male – who considered her to be subservient. (Trust me, it’s happened to me and I am quick to correct that faulty assumption.) However, I have never been judged by the color of my skin, experienced intolerance because of my sexual orientation or religion, or been the victim of sexual assault.
Unfortunately, I know there are women and men who cannot say the same.
For those people, we need to be their allies.
We need to add our voice when people are not being heard. Stand up – whether it’s at a march, in a church, or in a classroom – for those who call this nation their home even when others are telling them to get out. Fight ignorance with actual facts – not alternative facts because that’s not real, Kellyanne.
I know this is easier said than done, but sometimes it starts with something as simple as saying “Hello” to someone you don’t know. Those little moments may be a drop in the bucket, but it’s a start.