5 Guides To Activism That Everyone Needs To Read To Prepare For The Fight Ahead
The world is a terrible place. That is neither a cynical aside nor a hopeless observation, but rather a statement of fact for many people in America right now. If there was a time for unified activism, that time would be now, because we may feel like there's nothing left to lose, but really, we have a lot to lose.
Being an activist is not an easy thing, particularly if you are not from an organizing, action-oriented background, or if you struggle with your mental health or have a physical disability. It can be intimidating to jump into spaces that feel unwelcoming or that are not built to accommodate you. Unfortunately, though, the line between self-caring enough to know our limits and challenging ourselves to do what makes us uncomfortable is becoming thinner.
More and more, we're seeing local and national needs for action, whether that be providing support or simply occupying space. You may not have experience, you might have a ton, or you might have something in-between. Regardless, it always helps to read up and see how you can best use your skills to help the movement, because at the end of the day the future of this country and the world is all of our responsibilities. If we all contribute, then we only have to contribute a little, but if most of us sit back, then the few who are contributing have to give a lot.
1. A Nervous Wreck's Disabled Guide To Stepping Up
This was the first, post-Trump activist guide that really impacted me, and remains the most powerful one I've ever read. It's easy to understand, compassionate, and speaks to people across the spectrum. It caters to anxious activists, who may not flourish on the front lines, and provides specific examples of how to use your skills to make a difference. This guide taught me that activism doesn't always look like what people think. Cooking meals for struggling families you know is activism. Writing protest signs is activism. Shopping from immigrant-run businesses is activism. It's all about understanding activism, and this guide helps you find what it means specifically to you with a step-by-step activity — which I completed and still keep by my desk at all times.
2. Do Something. But Know You Can't Do Everything.
I've written about Mikki Halpin's action now newsletter before, because it has a voice that is oh-so-necessary in 2017. One of her recent newsletters, which reads like a short guide, talks about how to balance out your activism. Her tips are simple, though she explains them in more detail: find one thing to be a leader on, one thing to be a follower on, and one thing to make a habit of. I can't stress how helpful this reading is.
3. Speak Up & Stay Safe(r)
If you're an activist, particularly a non-white, female-identifying, queer, disabled, Native American, black, or Latinx activist, you may struggle with online safety. Any activist woman who uses Twitter for example, can probably tell you that Support is not going to help make that space safer. In fact, they're more likely to ignore the problem than do anything about it. Speak Up & Stay Safe(r) was made by people who are all too familiar with feeling unsafe on social media. The Feminist Frequency team made this guide to provide folks with tools that can keep them safer on and offline, whether it be tips on passwords, how to prevent doxxing, or online gaming security. If you feel at risk, or worry you soon might be, be sure to check it out — and share it!
The chunkiest of all of these guides, Indivisible is an in-depth guide on how to resist the Trump administration. It will take some time to get through but is well-worth the read because a huge portion of the battle against Trump is understanding exactly who and what they are and exactly how we can affect them. The guide is also available in Spanish.
5. Marley Dias' Activist Guide for Children and Teens
So you can't actually read this one yet (sorry), but you should be keeping it on your radar to read later. It's incredibly important to talk to youth about activism and to not ignore or take value from their voices. Believe it not, sometimes we need to listen to youth and try to understand their perspective before we talk to them. Marley Dias' upcoming guide is one way to do that.