What to do When You’re Too Anxious to be in the Streets and Protest
If you aren’t at least a little anxious during 2020, I don’t trust you. Between almost starting another Forever War (this time with Iran), the COVID-19 pandemic, and now threats of military force being used on civilians to diminish an increasingly successful mass movement; I’d be lying if I said this year wasn’t Mr. Trump’s wild ride heading for a cliff that half the population denied was there.
Anxieties have led to a lot of comrades such as myself scared to be out there even though they want to show solidarity. Below is a list of ways to help yourself and others without being in the streets. It is in no particular order and very bare bones. I am by no means an expert, it is just what I have learned and what I strongly advocate for.
DONATE. This is, of course, the easiest one to point out. Sometimes things really are as simple as “money please!” Donations to bail funds have skyrocketed (here’s a thread from the National Bail Fund Network listing most major cities) but it’s also important to support Mutual Aid societies as well. Once the pandemic hit, a lot of major cities went into action forming a more robust community. My hometown of St. Louis has one at stlmutualaid.org, but take the time and research your city and get involved.
However, with the mass unemployment wavering around 30% since the pandemic, you may not have money to donate. That is totally fine, donate your labor! Think about what you like to do and what you’re good at, then decide how that can help people meet their basic needs. Are you an artist? Help make signs or graphics to relay information. Do you have a car? Deliver supplies. Do you kick ass with an Excel spreadsheet? Help organize data. Just ask organizers where their needs are and adapt. Everyone is useful.
PROMOTION. Get the word out! Don’t just do black squares without a certain call to action. Mass movements and uprisings such as #BlackLivesMatter rely heavily on word of mouth and social media. Information is vital, and while there are critics of ‘slacktivism’, posting plays a massive role in spreading events, calls to action, and information that needs to be out there.
Your friend sharing an email script and contact information of local officials? Sign it, send it, and share it so everyone in your reach sees it. The Civil Rights law firm showcasing how to deal with being arrested? Make sure everyone you know going out there knows it inside and out. Any information that you think might be helpful is worth spreading while you can.
LISTEN, EDUCATE YOURSELF, and COMMUNICATE. Nothing can replace real world lived experiences. I am a White guy in America, I have the experiences of a White guy in America. I can’t know what it is like to be Black, Queer, or Trans in America because of who I am. The best next thing you can do is listen to those voices who bare the brunt of oppression. It is on us to listen when they speak, and for us to educate ourselves.
As far as recommendations go, the most eye-opening writing on race for me personally was The Combahee River Collective Statement. It is maybe 10 pages long, but perfectly describes how once we break oppressive ideology, whether it be racism, sexism, homophobia, or whatever is holding people back, we can all be free. I won’t rehash too many recommendations because the lists are out there, but this tweet from user twittysuch in particular showcases some of my favorites.
Lastly, communicate with others. It may sound simplistic, or even naive but talk about issues that you see going on. Don’t ever be worried about saying the wrong thing or being “cancelled”. As long as you’re coming at the issue in good faith and admit when you’re wrong, you are always going to improve your understanding. A piece of advice that was given to me about allyship: “it’s not about not fucking up… You’re going to fuck up. What is important is how you react to that fuck up. Don’t repeat the same mistakes you have and you’ll be better than you were yesterday.”.
Things won’t ever change until we make them change. Everyone has their part, find yours. In solidarity. — Joshua