It’s important that you listen to this song before you read this. It’s from a musical about Alexander Hamilton, and I feel like it sets the tone from the rest of my writing.
When you’re living on your knees, you rise up
Tell your brother that he’s gotta rise up
Tell your sister that she’s gotta rise up
When most people think of activists, and people who change history, they think of the Alexander Hamiltons. They think of the people who stand up and give grand speeches, winning hearts and minds. But that’s not quite true. While people still treat these people
Most people don’t think that there’s much they can do if they don’t fall into what they think a good activist is. They think every good activist is one that can stand up and speak their voice to a crowd, who can tear apart and drop knowledge on every single person who believes other people don’t deserve rights, that they’re lesser. But that’s not true at all.
Sure, there are people who can do that. But they’re not the most important people in a movement at all. A movement is a group of people taking action together to make things better. I consider myself good with my words, I consider myself strong enough to face others that speak loudly in belief that those that bully aren’t willing to tear them down.
The greatest people who have been there to help? The people who helped matter in the long run? The people who comforted me when the stress got too much. The people who provided me with endless bummed cigarettes, and brought me food when they knew I was hungry. Those who ran the blog when I was too tired to continue to do so.
The most important thing to a movement, and this is something to consider if you’re more of a “politician” like myself, is the backbone of the moment. The people who are willing to sit there for an hour and plug together a layout, or spend an afternoon sorting posts on the website so that people can access the content. That’s how things change, and how people get access to content. It’s how people who harass minorities on the internet get called out for their behavior.
I just spent a half hour going through a blog of someone who was tracking down transgender children on the internet, and posting their pictures with disparaging terms. This week, I spent time tracking down a man who was also harassing children on the internet, lesbians in particular, so that I could have a list of visual “receipts” of his behavior. That’s not something that requires much verbal skills – it’s busy work. But it makes a difference, because most of the time, when confronted with their own behavior in a public sphere, they stop. (Probably, most likely, they realize that having a record of their behavior against children permanently available online and with a single Google search doesn’t look too hot to employers.)
In order for all of us to rise up, we need people on every level to help with activism work. The movers and shakers, the people running the tech behind the scenes, and people who are willing to spread the word. So what can you do to be a good ally, with the nitty-gritty details?
- Spread and share content using social media icons on the page, if it’s a page whose content you agree with. Try to share links to the original content when you can, not just quotes. Make exceptions for their website on Adblock.
- Use pages like donotlink.com to avoid sending pageviews and ad-traffic to hate sites or websites that pirate and do not attribute to other people’s content. They’re usually simple and easy to use.
- Check tags such as #feminism, #transgender, and #blacklivesmatter for people who are posting purposeful hate (such as as gore, hate symbols, or harassment of minors.) Screenshot the post, and share the screenshot – don’t share the post itself.
- Volunteer to help organizations or even activist individuals with specific issues they may have, whether it’s asking to help run their website or bringing them a cup of coffee. (I, personally, appreciate all donations of food and cigarettes).