*Note I hope to write more articles like this about a range of social justice issues in the future, as well as sharing more stories and voices.
I am taking a cue from journalism sites that have produced similar action lists in the past and are doing so increasingly out of obvious necessity. And from writer friends like Karen Huber and her article here, which you should go read after this for a perspective from an American living in Europe, and from which I stole a couple resources. Thanks Karen, love you!
Friday January 27, 2017, POTUS Trump signed an executive order placing an indefinite halt on refugees fleeing the war and carnage of Syria and "temporarily suspending immigration from several predominantly muslim countries." This happened on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and the irony is excruciating, for this is a blatant discrimination of a people group and a religion that smacks too much of the slippery dangerous policies that led to Hitler murdering 6 million people because of their religion. The world was inexorably altered because of the loss of those 6 million people. This can't happen again. So at the first whiff of tyranny and xenophobia in our democratic leaders and in policy, we must start the speaking out, the protesting, the resisting, and the working for change.
This morning, Saturday morning, I woke up and read the headline, and then I read the article and then I cried. With cold fingers I typed out a Facebook post, and then I cried some more. I wept for the children dying in bombed out buildings, drowning in the sea. For the families torn apart, and the victims of the very terror Trump claims this measure will protect us from. I wept for the people who have been waiting to find a home after being forced out of theirs. I wept for the families here who now mourn a reunion that will no longer take place (not yet). I wept for the people abroad who had no idea that they wouldn't be able to come home to their lives, their jobs, their families, their home. I wept for the injury to our democracy, and our country. I read the words of Jesus that call for us to welcome the stranger, clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and care for the sick, as if those people were him, and then I wept for the injury to my faith as a Christian. So what do we do?
Later today my friend started texting as she watched the live feed of protestors at JFK airport in NYC. I tuned in and my heart swelled to see people united and peaceful raising their voices in protest. Then I read that an ACLU lawyer got one man who had been detained-an Iraqi translator who risked his life woking with our troops in a war-released! A flutter of hope. And as we know, rebellions are built on hope. Here is a list of ways to take action in defense of refugees and muslim immigrants, in defense of democracy, in defense of the belief and value that there is enough room at the table, in defense of love and life.
1. Educate yourself and arm yourself with DATA and FACTS (not alternative facts) from reliable sources.
- "3 Important Facts About How the Us settles Syrian refugees." Refugees already go through an intense vetting system, many of them waiting years to even be approved as a refugee.
- "There have been no fatal terror attacks in the US by immigrants from the 7 banned muslim countries." To me, this is actually just a showcase of the corruption and ridiculous nature of this executive order, because Trump didn't include any countries in which he has business interests, AND...
- Because "Don't Conflate Terrorists with Refugees." Terrorists are extremists, they are not representative of the general population of any country, especially if they have to go through the rigorous US vetting that already exists.
- Refugee children, muslim children are children, like your children. Photographer Capture Images of Syria's lost children.
2. Speak Up, Protest, Use your Voice
Go to a unified public protest, or coordinated act of civil disobedience, as the protestors did today at JFK airport and the NYC Taxi Workers Alliance halted all pick ups to the airport. Go to an Interfaith vigil. Speak up in group or one on one conversations. Your voice matters!
Speak out on social media. I know social media has been ROUGH lately. But it's also part of reality and it has been instrumental in modern grass roots movements. If you are a social media user, adjust things as needed, use it to your strengths!
3. Contact your Government Representatives
Guys, I'm going full blown Leslie Knope style on this one. It's pretty much, "Hi Congress, it's me Hailey again..."
Call their offices. There are lots of guides out there about what to say, but when in doubt speak from your heart. Look up your reps here: whoismyrepresentative.com. Look for their local and DC office numbers. Look up White House office numbers for appropriate departments and call those too. Call Paul Ryan's voicemail, and let it all out. *Pro Tip: call the offices of the reps who are more aligned with your political leanings FIRST to stoke your morale. I've already made friends with one of my Reps' office staff.
Tag your reps and senators on Twitter, and tweet them your thoughts, questions, and demands! Call on them, or call them out.
Sign and share petitions.
Send postcards. Have a postcard writing party. Stock up on cards that organizations and artist are creating. Or use an online service where you can write your message and pay a couple bucks to have one mailed for you from the comfort of your introvert corner. Such a service was designed by a classmate of mine from back when I was an art major at UF: Power to the Post
Write them, email them, and watch for office open houses when the reps are back in town, then show up with some friends and engage them on the issue!
4. Get Involved with your Refugee and Immigrant Community
Find out what local organizations provide refugee services in your area and what kinds of help they need. It could be donations, helping with move-ins, mentorship or sponsorship, teaching English. If you aren't sure, tell them what you are good at and see where they think your strengths could be used.
In Kansas City the following organizations work with refugees and are always seeking help:
- Catholic Charities
- Jewish Vocational Services
- KC for Refugees
- New Roots for Refugees
- Della Lamb Community Services
- Immigrant and Refugee Academy of KC
Find a local interfaith organization and attend a gathering or event. Meet people who are refugees, immigrants, and/or of different faiths. Some options for Kansas City:
Give donations of goods or money to any of your local refugee services organizations.
Give financially to national and international agencies working to save, advocate, and provide for refugees and migrants:
- International Rescue Committee
- World Relief
- Preemptive Love Coalition
- Migrant Offshore Aid
- We Welcome Refugees
- Doctors Without Borders
- The White Helmets
- OxFam International
- ACLU (who literally as I wrote this successfully brought an appeal before federal judge in New York who then granted a Stay for a portion of the EO, which will prevent people being detained in US airports from being put back on planes to be deported. Step one.)
6. Pray. Sing. Write. Make Art.
The #lovearmy is coming.