Every Voice Counts

Last January I wrote the article below for the Daily Newsminer.  A year has passed, a lot has happened, but my opinions and outlook as we approach the anniversary of the Women’s March have not changed.  In fact advice I would add, as we March On, is as follows:

  • Don’t use the Presidents Surname and avoid discussions and comments regarding his appearance.
  • Do not react to the President’s social media posts it only fuels the fire.
  • Do NOT argue with his supporters it is a waste of energy and they just sink their heels in harder.
  • Your not helpless so don’t wallow; stay positive in your message.
  • Check your facts and don’t spread fake news.
  • Support things that bring you joy in the community such as the arts.
  • Take care of yourself strive for life balance; don’t spread yourself too thin with activist work.
  • Keep Resisting – every voice and every vote counts!!

Additionally, the official action of the National movement is voter registration and mobilization: register new voters, engage impacted communities, harness our collective energy to advocate for policies and candidates that reflect our values and collaborate with our partners to elect more women and progressives candidates to office.  Who couldn’t get behind that mission?  Every voice counts, and can make a difference whether you are writing a letter to the editor; staging a protest; running for office, or volunteering in your community your effort matters.  How will you commit to the resistance this year?

Marchers to stand in solidarity behind common beliefs

Link to Newsminer Article

This Saturday, people from around the world will gather in Washington D.C., for the Women’s March on Washington, standing in solidarity for their shared beliefs in human and civil rights. I will proudly be standing shoulder to shoulder with my fellow Fairbanksans at the farthest north sister march of this event, one of more than 400 sister marches happening around the globe that are organizing 700,000 participants in conjunction with the event in Washington, D.C. We will gather at Raven Landing for a rally, march and community gathering from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. In the uniting principles of the movement, found at www.womensmarch.com/principles, I believe every individual can identify with at least one of these principles and that it is reason enough to stand with us on Saturday.

In the past, I kept my political cards held close. I wouldn’t post my opinions regarding politics or religion on social media. I only discussed these subjects with people I knew were on the same page as me. I was political in quiet ways; voting, volunteering and making donations. I avoided conflict by keeping my opinions to myself. This election forced me to show my cards — I now feel an obligation to speak out like never before.

The public discourse around the election has shown me there are deep divisions within our country that I believe can be healed through open and honest communication. I’m terrified to watch the empowerment of individuals who incite violence from the fringe of a perceived racial war; of those who misappropriate misogyny and bigotry under the guise of Judeo-Christian ethic; of those who consider sexual identity a choice and that being a women is a pre-existing condition. With growing threats to affordable health care at a time when wages are stagnating and the wealth gap is growing, we are witnessing a disenfranchisement of a population, with 4 in 10 eligible voters choosing apathy or turning away from overcrowded polling stations.  There is a threat to our communities when we lack access to our government; when our voices are stifled because we can’t vote, when our agencies are politicized and social media is deluged with corrupted information propagated in real time.

Our elected officials are encumbered with legislating the will of the people. Their positions will require that they serve morally and ethically in service of America’s citizens. Our movement, taking place on our new president’s first day in office, is designed to remind legislators that they will be held accountable by the people and that freedom of assembly is one of our protected rights. Now is the time for seeing humanity in our neighbors — having a respectful conversation with people of all viewpoints and planning our resistance to ideologies we do not support.

I will go high; I will focus my energy to protect the rights of our diverse community and its common values. I will look for answers and solutions. I will not
be complacent. I will push back against legislation I do not stand for. I will practice empathy with the intent to understand the intersecting identities in my
community. I will work to suspend judgments and attempt to let go of ego. I implore everyone, including our local and national leaders, to do the same.

There are so many simple things that everyone can do:

  • Think critically: End insular thinking. Educate yourself to truly understand all sides of an issue before drawing a conclusion.
    Share the message: Tweet, post, email, call and write letters, but most importantly, go visit your local representatives to discuss the issues that
    matter most to you.
  • Spend wisely: Engaging in financial activism can be a powerful tool. Donate to your causes, subscribe to honest media and support businesses that
    share your values.
  • Be gracious: Forego negativity and find reasons to be grateful. Instead of being the angry losers in democracy, be a proud advocate for change.
  • Serve your community: Perform acts of service for those who are overlooked or excluded. Compassion and kindness can be acts of bold resistance.
  • Reach out: Divisive exclusion is a hallmark of the recent political rhetoric. Interact and intentionally build relationships with those in your community
    you may normally have little interaction with. Resist wall-builders by breaking down walls.
  • Organize: Identify community leaders and assist their work, create action groups, volunteer, roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. Join
    the Fairbanks Activist Forum; volunteer at your local representative’s office or one of the many local nonprofit groups.
  • Assemble: Show up and speak out. Do it peacefully and don’t be deterred by those who will attempt to undermine your mission.
  • Furthermore, when our new president raises his hand in an oath to protect, preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States, we must raise our right hands and do the exact same thing. Protecting our constitutional rights is the responsibility of every American. Let’s make a commitment to be active participants in the future of our country.

Now can be a golden age of activism. Do it for yourself, your partner, your family, your neighbors, do it for those who can’t or don’t vote, and most importantly for those who don’t understand what is at stake. Do it for those who can’t get involved, who are scared to speak out, those who live in fear and those who don’t think every voice counts.

Whichever issues you are passionate about, there is a place for you at the march this weekend. It will be a step toward unifying our community, grounded in new relationships, to create positive change from the grassroots level up.

The Fairbanks march will be a peaceful nonpartisan event. It is not an anti-administration rally nor an endorsement of any party or representatives.  This march is led by women, but, it is for all people; regardless of race, creed, sexual identity or political affiliations. Together, we will stand up for shared beliefs in human and civil rights. We will stand with those across the world in numbers too great to ignore, sending a bold message to our new president in his first day in office that women’s rights are human rights. Defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.