Taking action

The path to the future passes through November

At this particular moment, the most important thing I think we can each do is to choose to engage more in the practice of democracy. Democracy cannot be a spectator sport. Let’s each find a way or ways to define it. Shape it. Deepen in.

This summer, much of the focus was on public protest – on the streets and in our courthouses. Right now, with 44 days left, let’s focus on the November elections – as are for example the Movement for Black Lives’ Electoral Justice Voter Fund and the Working Families Party.

In addition to voting and redistributing wealth to organizations representing people on the front lines of organizing in your own communities and nationally (if you want suggestions, feel free to ask me), here are some other things we can do right now:

  • The Senate, running on unanimous consent, can be brought to a halt by any individual objection. Contact your senators and sign this timely petition to the Senate (and this one) to demand that, according to her last wish, the late great Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg not be replaced until after 2021 inauguration.  
  • Want to make the best use of your vote at all levels of government but now sure how? Do you or people you know live in CA, CO, MI, PA, VA, WA or WI? Check out, help spread the word about, and use the Progressive Voters Guide. Maybe there’s an equivalent resource where you are.
  • This Voting Action Hub connected to Stacy Abrams’ All in the Fight for Democracy campaign (and film available on Amazon) has created a one-stop-shop for access to voting. Pass it on. People can register, check their status, request a mail-in ballot, find out the voting options in their state, get reminders, find their polling place, see what’s on their ballot, review their rights, and access free Election Protection hotline numbers – all from the same page.
  • Rock the Vote, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to building the political power of young people, has their own action hub.
  • Get informed about and help safeguard the three pillars of voter protection where you vote: registration rolls, the vote by mail process and the counting of ballots. Do you and people you know have a voting plan? Assess the risks of voting by mail or in person in your area. Are there going to be drop boxes available? If you’re voting by mail, mail your ballot in at least a week early.  Are there going to be election protectionists at the polls and/or confirming that all ballots are admitted and counted fairly? Are there ways you could support them?

Want to do more?:

Encourage others. Set aside some time to make a voting plan with your people. Pass on these resources for action, or others, in your own way to your own people. Survey says if we each aim to inspire three or four people to vote, the path to the future could be brighter.

Personal reflection

What is the most important thing I could do right now?

That is often my question. A similar version of this question drove me back to school in the early 90s. Then, I wanted to know a more about how to understand what exists and create something new from it; now, I just want to know what to do. Because now we’re teetering on the edge of that era, standing, almost in slow motion, on the brink of another.

People on the racialized intersections of political, public health, economic, social and environmental front lines of crisis are suffering, at risk, and dying. In city’s across the country, as Black people fight for their lives, white supremacists reach for their guns—and white allies go soft. Or, in trauma talk, we don’t fight or flee; we freeze. Perhaps that’s a difference between being an ally to those who were not granted access to middle class whiteness and finding ways to join in demanding the abolition of systems built on exclusion, racial and otherwise. So I keep asking the question.

For the psychologically inclined, I guess that explains why I tend toward anxious rather than depressive. Do I ask as a way to keep moving on to the next thing because I’m not sure how to be where I am? That could be, if and when the question is driven by anxiety. But I experience it more as a practice. I ask: What does it mean for me to be here (as in here on the planet, alive with you all under these conditions) well right now? How I see the world and myself in it arranges the possibilities of that moment in front of me.

But I keep asking, and that might be anxiety talking. I was asking again while washing dishes yesterday. I have so many answers, but I guess I ask again, just to check, because I still feel so sickened, powerless and afraid. If I was working with an organization right now, I could be a part of something more powerful. But then I also wouldn’t have as much time to engage with the students/voters/community members/parents in my classroom or to try to start difficult conversations about whiteness in the city I went to school in.

Is that my answer? Are these the things I think I should be doing right now?: Preparing adults to achieve high school equivalency in their education, supporting powerful organizing in communities I have connections to, and staying connected to my family? I do believe it is, as the choices I made led me here.

Well, not exactly. I had intended the choices I made to lead me to We Tip the Balance – what I saw as a project I could offer for learning together how to build the world we want to live in with each other.

I guess I don’t know how to build a project called “We Tip the Balance”, but I believe the most important thing I can be doing right now is learning how to build the world we want to live in with each other at work, in our communities, and at “home” (wherever home is for us and whatever it means to us).

I think perhaps the only missing part is you, so that we can be in this process together. What is the most important thing you think you could be doing right now?

If you’d like to be in that conversation, reply back. Responses of any format or length welcome.

Taking action

A Week of Action In Defense of Black Lives

June 1, 2020 @ 8:00 am – June 5, 2020 @ 5:00 pm PDT

The Movement For Black Lives (M4BL), and organizers from across the country, invite you to rise up with them and say no more! They’re calling for a week of action June 1st to 5th In Defense of Black Lives as an opportunity to uplift and fight alongside those turning up in the streets and on the airwaves.

Event location: Anywhere you can act in defense of Black lives

M4BL has made no request other than to find a way to act in defense of Black lives (and to change your social media profile pictures to the image above). Educating ourselves, doing whatever personal work comes up along the way, and finding ways to take action are all part of learning to transform our culture. Here are some suggestions I can offer:

  • Check out this report on COVID-19 deaths by race and ethnicity in the U.S. showing that 54.6 Black American deaths per 100,000, a rate 2.4 times higher than for White Americans.
  • Learn about the tragic death of Tony McDade, a black transgender man whose life was also lost this last week to police violence.
  • Read the UN definition of genocide in the context of the struggle for black lives.
  • Are you concerned about rioting more than state-sanctioned black deaths and violent state repression of protesters? Hear this response from Marc Lamont Hill.
  • Donate to community bail funds to help get protestors out of jail and home safely.
  • Tell Minneapolis city council to de-fund the police.
  • Consider subscribing to the Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) mailing list. It serves as a source of news and leads to other sources of information and ways to take action. They organize locally around the country and are doing work around November elections.
  • Read SURJ’s article “5 Ways White People Can Take Action in Response to White and State-Sanctioned Violence”.
  • Put Black Lives Matter signs up in your front yard – and elsewhere in your neighborhood. (I saw a big one taped to a pole at a traffic intersection.)
  • Sign some petitions.
  • Get involved in mail-in ballot or election protection campaigns.
  • Find ways to support the homeless, jailed, incarcerated, and detained in your communities.

And here’s the site’s calendar with the first two weeks of activities listed.

Learning about change

A living curriculum

Over the last handful of years, I’ve been developing my own workshops and study groups. When we use the lessons of those who come before us, when we learn from the world around us and our own experience, when we decide for ourselves who we think is leading the way and pay attention to them, we create a living curriculum, and lay foundations on which institutions of the future can be built.

The way I see it right now, the learning goals for this living curriculum are to:

  • Understand the challenges we face in constructive ways
  • Identify strategic and meaningful roles in the work we see ahead
  • Let go of old ways and beliefs to make room for clearer visions of the future
  • Be powerful by seeking new ways of being in the world*
  • Learn how to act in our own interests without undermining the ability of others to do so

* Many people are feeling called to “be the change” they wants to see in the world, but it isn’t easy to “be” something one doesn’t have practice at, or to do so in a world that isn’t set up for that way of being. Audre Lorde talked about power as the ability to seek new ways of being in the world. By seeking those new ways of being in the world, we participate in new forms of power that can be used to protect and nurture our families and communities, each other, and the world we share.

Imagining the impossible

Coming soon!

Looking back

Coming soon!

Taking action

Mutual Aid Resources

Taking action

Redistribute your stimulus check

If you received a stimulus check that you don’t actually need, redistributing those resources, and others if you can, is one of the easier and more immediate things people can do.

  • Do a search for mutual aid hubs in your community
  • Find the community-based organizations in your area serving those who did not receive checks yet who are unemployed and/or front line workers
  • If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) makes it easy:

The SURJ Bay Area Racial Justice Emergency Relief Fund is raising funds to support the front line work of local organizations providing immediate aid to our most vulnerable communities while continuing to fight for the structural change that can transform our society into one that is more just and equitable.  

COVID-19 is a crisis but it is also opening doors to new ways of organizing and policies we could only dream of a month ago.

100% of all donations to the Racial Justice Emergency Relief Fund will be passed on to local organizations and are tax deductible.