Thursday, February 2, 2017
A Call to Action: Protests Large and Small
Wendy is back with the fourth installment of her "A Call to Action" series:
On Sunday a friend sent me a google doc listing every Senator and his or her response to the executive order banning Muslims from seven countries. You might have seen the chart on social media, but if not, here's a link:
What strikes me about the chart is not how our Senators feel about the executive order. That's pretty predictable, Democrats and a few Republicans -- who we could have named without seeing the data -- are opposed. The remaining Republicans are silent. Silent.
Silence is a choice and a statement.
We are being bombarded with ways to fight back. The volume of emails, social media posts, and grass roots protest groups is phenomenal. I'm not going to duplicate that effort today, I'm simply going to urge you to choose a way or two or three to speak out and to keep protesting. To not make the statement of silence.
Today I have two stories about protests, one large, one smaller, both significant.
On Monday more than 1,600 advocates for reproductive rights went to the state capitol in Albany to lobby our legislators. As Planned Parenthood faces the very real prospect of defunding, these lobbyists were asking our state to step up the plate to protect almost 200,000 men and women annually who receive health care in 59 Planned Parenthood health centers throughout New York State. For many of these patients, Planned Parenthood is the only health care provider they see, not just for reproductive care, for any health care at all. Planned Parenthood performs tests for sexually transmitted disease, it provides contraception, breast exams and prenatal care. And yes, abortions.
At Lobby Day, advocates meet with their legislators to ask for an up vote on legislation supporting reproductive rights. And to personalize their requests, they tell real-life stories. To my great disappointment, I was unable to go to Albany this year. But I'd thought in advance about the story I'd tell. Here it is.
I volunteer for a domestic violence agency. Victims, mostly women, come to us from homes where they've been physically and psychologically abused by their partners. Their self-esteem is at an all-time low. Leaving their homes is an act of extreme courage: in addition to leaving behind their belongings, they leave behind any financial security they may have had. At Hope's Door, they receive shelter if they need it, counseling for themselves and their children, and resources for obtaining education and job training. Many come to us with babies in tow, and Hope's Door staff have welcomed more than a few babies born while their mothers were residing at our shelter. While domestic violence knows no demographic boundaries, many of the women who stay in our shelter become Medicaid recipients. These women need access to reproductive health care. They need STI testing, they need access to contraception, they need breast exams and Pap tests. And we are speaking up for these women who at this moment in their lives cannot speak up for themselves.
I've heard from several BTRTN readers about what they are doing to protest. Here are some actions we've been taking.
One reader has joined an Indivisible group in the Boston area. In writing about her group, she said: We are using the "Indivisible Guide" with more than 4,000 other groups throughout the US. Our first meeting was 10, the second was 40+, the third is expected to be 80 to 100.
Following this communication, I joined Indivisible Westchester. Their very up-to-date Facebook page has helped me to keep on top of the most pressing issue of the hour and has provided relevant contact information and action steps. Here's a link to the Indivisible website; from there you can locate local groups in your area. https://www.indivisibleguide.com/
Women on Watch, based in Stamford, CT, continues to be a reliable source of recommended action steps. While some of their agenda is local, I've found their daily emails to be informative and helpful as well as at times a source of comic relief. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org
A well-known organization recommended by a reader is Move On. Here's the website: http://front.moveon.org/
There is, however, such a thing as information overload. So I suggest that you find the two or three advocacy groups which work best for you and then take action. Every day.
I'll close with my second story, one that really warms my heart.
On Sunday, my older daughter was flying from Atlanta to her home in Maine, connecting in NY. When she landed, she wrote me this one sentence email: Every airport I've been in today has had trump protesters on the refugee ban including little bangor.
Little Bangor. That protest in little Bangor matters. It's as important as the protests with casts of thousands in cities -- and now airports -- around the country. It shows that all Americans -- not just those in urban blue enclaves -- are watching, closely, and that we're mad as hell.