BY LISA MARIE BASILE
When I marched January 21, it was clear to me that this was a day of strength. Strength from grief, strength from exhaustion, strength from ignorance. We'd poured all our pain into that day, and we'd marched for women, immigrants and minorities. But it was also clear that the energy I witnessed must be sustained lest it become a memory, an example of our power at its best. We need now, more than ever, longevity. We can't afford to get tired and normalize Trump's regime and his cabinet's racist, sexist and xenophobic ideologies. January 21 has to be a beginning.
Gloria Steinem told Cosmo, "I have never, in my long life, seen so many people marching and demonstrating and saying, this is our government, we’re going to take it back." That says something.
But there were some problems, as we spoke of. And those problems do need to be addressed. And that's all part of the next steps. Because the Women's Marches were just the beginning. A glimpse of the power President Trump thinks he's "given" to the people. Well, We are the people. And we will have the power.
The next four years will require serious energy and activism. As Audre Lorde said, "Your silence will not protect you." Remember that.
It shouldn't need to be said, but you should always be practicing self-care (and encouraging others to do so) at times like this, as it will enable you to stay active and alert. That means...if you are burnt out, angered by social media, done dealing with energy vampires who do not understand the basic principles of human decency or sick of watching the fake news battle the real news battle Trump's media silencing...take a break. Come back when you can. But come back.
Here are 7 next steps to take:
1. Recognize that inclusivity and understanding is a necessity — and put energy into educating yourself and others.
Because I benefit from white privilege and am able-bodied, I have to realize and work on knowing when to shut up and when to speak out. Because many other people, people of color, people who have disabilities, trans people, are marginalized and silenced. It is imperative now to listen to make space for those voices so that we can all unite in solidarity, as friends and allies, to fight against oppression. I would suggest reading as much as you can. I recommend reading this piece — How to survive in intersectional feminist spaces 101— and sharing. And I'd suggest examining how race intersects with the Women's March.
2. Call congress — every single day.
Call 202-224-3121. This line can connect you to senators and representatives. Having names handy will help. Also: here's how to find your local representatives and here's more on contacting elected officials. Here is the Senate phone list and the House phone list. Know what you want to say, and have details handy about the issues you're calling about. Know that you will likely speak to someone in the office, not the person themselves.
3. Make art. Keep making art. Host political poetry readings. Collaborate.
Now is the time to use your words and your art and your vision. Whatever that means to you, do it. Do it because it is an expression. Do it because it forges community. Host a poetry night that explores politics, invite friends to make art. Seriously, get together.
4. Learn to spot fake news.
I can't believe I'm saying this, but it's 2017 and "fake news" is a legitimate term. Even worse, there's a difference between what normal, smart humans know as "fake news" and the real news that President Trump is calling "fake news." So, thank you, post-apocalyptic Twilight zone.
5. Join Next Steps Salon
.This organization allows people to create meet-ups that will plan and organize for the road ahead. Sign up here. According to their site, you can make outreach plans and actions plans: "Our gatherings will focus on how we can start this process so that ultimately, we can increase the number of people willing to go to bat for social justice issues....We'll support each other in outlining concrete action plans to push forward the issues we care about as individuals."
6. Run for office, seriously.
Through She Should Run, women learn how to run for office. The organization demystifies the process and provide resources so women can run. From their site: "She Should Run’s robust Ask a Woman to Run program provides a community that encourages women to run and then connects women with resources, people and organizations who can help start their path towards public service. The She Should Run Incubator is our online program to help more women envision themselves in public leadership, and our way of providing thoughtful guidance and support for women considering a future run."
7. Join March's March 10 Actions 100 Days
Everything you need to do is clearly and easily listed out — so there's no reason not to. We'll see you over there. Let's do this.
Lisa Marie Basile is the founding editor-in-chief of Luna Luna Magazine and moderator of its digital community. Her work has appeared in The Establishment, Bustle, Greatest, Bust, Hello Giggles, Marie Claire, Good Housekeeping, and The Huffington Post, among other sites.