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Resistance is Survival 

How to be a "positive disruptor," and why meaningful change is worth fighting for

click to enlarge CALEB WALSH ILLUSTRATION
  • Caleb Walsh illustration

Dear Resistance: Nov. 9, 2016, wasn't the best day we've ever had. But let's take a step back and think about the now.

First, we are not defined by what we are fighting against, but what we are fighting for, like fairness and equality.

click to enlarge dillonpaul.jpg

Every action, no matter how small, is meaningful, but this isn't a one-time thing. It's a marathon, not a race, to be part of a legacy of change.

You've made sure that the checks and balances in the American political system work as intended — and they are working — but don't let your guard down. What we've been told can't happen can happen tomorrow: I'm looking at you, Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

If building anti-oppressive, inclusive spaces gets you called a snowflake? Then winter is coming.

We've all had a moment, possibly at work or on social media, where somebody said something that didn't sit well with us, and we let it pass by. For example, even if your trans friend isn't in the room, if you consider yourself an ally, don't let the moment pass. Be an actual "positive disruptor."

And to antifa: You are at risk of helping President Trump. To be clear, you are not on equal footing with white supremacists and neo-Nazis. You don't represent that extremist tradition of violence and murder in this country, but you will help justify the worst impulses of "the all sides" crowd, since they don't care about distinctions. Violence begets violence.

Pain turns to protest — so when somebody tells you that protesting doesn't work, they are just gaslighting. They disagree not only with what you are saying, but your right to say it.

Help avoid burnout by surrounding yourself with people who aren't political. Take up a hobby — I try to dance — but know what burnout feels like for you. Sometimes, we may just need a break from what we're doing. And that's OK.

Dr. Willie Parker, an African-American Christian abortion provider in the Deep South and an outspoken advocate for reproductive justice, shares a quote from his grandmother: "At times like these? There's always been times like these." The resurgence of white supremacy isn't surprising, because our country was founded on white supremacy. Genocide, culturicide, colonialism, slavery: It's the United States' DNA.

"Identity politics" is destructive code for human rights. Blaming diversification is another form of white supremacy. You can't just say that if we work on economic justice, everybody benefits, if the platform ignores how race and gender are connected to class.

Everybody is now on the chopping block — even those who support Trump. Yes, it's getting harder to even agree what a fact is any longer, but you know what? After stopping the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, we proved that no Congressional Budget Office score was as impactful as your faces and stories.

Your grassroots organizing works. (Thank you, town halls!) The lessons from mobilizing on health care should be channeled to stop the dismantling of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which protects DREAMers — undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as youths — from deportation. This is their home, too. Immigrants who graduated from high school and are legally allowed to work will find their lives at risk.

Everybody is involved in an intricate web of advantages and disadvantages, but please take the time to understand that some disadvantages matter more.

Congress gets back to work this week. Watch them closely, even when they are staying silent. We can only protect our communities — all of our communities — if we stand together and speak out.

You won't always change hearts and minds. Or policy. But when you do — like keeping a racial-profiling initiative off the Spokane ballot this November, or passing a climate change ordinance — damn, it feels good to be a resister.

If you haven't joined? We need you. Why?

Because resistance is survival. ♦

Paul Dillon manages public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho.

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