For HuffPost’s #LoveTakesAction series, we’re telling stories of how people are standing up to hate and supporting those most threatened. What will you stand up for? Tell us with #LoveTakesAction.
Waves of people have taken to the streets since President Donald Trump’s inauguration ― from the millions who protested worldwide in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington to the thousands who rallied against Trump’s executive order on refugees and immigrants to the hundreds who demonstrated last week against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
This widespread progressive activism shows few signs of abating: Almost half of liberal Democrats say they intend to become more politically active this year, according to a recent Washington Post poll. Notably, many people are taking part in protests and other forms of activism for the very first time.
For newcomers, the sheer number of important issues at stake right now can be daunting: immigration, women’s reproductive rights, environmental justice, among others. But there are multiple ways to get involved ― whether it’s by protesting, donating or reaching out to show solidarity with vulnerable communities.
Here’s advice from leading activists for those looking to engage in this political moment.
1. “Step off the sidelines and into the fight.”
“All new people getting involved in this movement need to know that they are welcome and they are necessary. There is a burning need for new energy and for people to step off the sidelines and into the fight.
People who have been in the struggle for a very long time are tired. They need the support of new blood and energy to come in and support their efforts. This is the moment and now is the time.”
― Tamika D. Mallory, co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington. She has worked on gun violence prevention efforts in New York City and with the Obama administration.
2. “Create a small group that can engage in protest with you.”
“For those who are engaging in protest for the first time, I strongly recommend that you gather friends and family at your home and talk through what issues you care about most and why.
Create a small group that can engage in protest with you. Whether it is an hour of calling your local representatives or writing letters or planning a local rally, do it together. There is nothing stronger than the power of the people when the people in power are not listening. Join the resistance!”
3. “Be unapologetic about who [you] are.”
“This moment calls for all of us, but especially directly impacted communities, to be unapologetic about who we are and to organize from a place of self-worth.
I choose to be unapologetically Muslim now more than ever, because I will not allow any administration or white supremacists to take from me my dignity and identity. I also have every right to be unapologetically Muslim in the land of religious freedom.”
― Linda Sarsour, co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington. She is the executive director of the Arab American Association of New York.
4. “When you’re tired ... dust yourself off and get back in the fight.”
“Many know that I grew up during one of America’s darkest chapters, and spent my childhood in two different internment camps. While we were in the camps, we had a choice: cower as victims, or stand tall. I would say to all who feel they are losing heart or afraid, know this: The hardest times, the fiercest battles, produce the mightiest of heroes.
Nothing good worth fighting for ever came without a fight. So when you’re tired, remember it’s because you have been fighting. Then dust yourself off, and get back in the fight. We will need many heroes in the coming years.”
― George Takei, actor and activist. His new show, “Allegiance,” explores the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during World War II, which he has compared to the recent acts of hate and discrimination against Muslim Americans.
5. “It’s really important that all of us take care of ourselves.”
“It’s really important that all of us take care of ourselves. Make sure you’re treating your body right, exercising, doing things that can keep you in high spirits. This is difficult right now, but when you’re out combatting the vitriol being thrown in our direction, you can lose yourself.
And hold the people close to you even closer than you ever have before. For me, it’s been important to be better about communicating how I’m feeling to my family ― and by family, I mean the broad term, not just the people biologically related to you.”
― Raquel Willis, activist and communications associate for the Transgender Law Center.
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