Monday, January 13, 2020

How to Be a Good Citizen

This is a Twitter thread, but I want to save it, so I'm putting it here. It's by Elle Maruska. (Here's her Patreon and Ko-Fi, whatever that is.)

"Here are some things you can do that, while maybe won't change the world will help you become more effective as a progressive and less likely to engage in harmful behavior in the name of social justice

1. Read Read read read read read read. Read books, read newspapers, read Twitter threads. Read carefully, critically, with purpose. Read scholars of color. Read words written by poor writers, disabled writers, queer writers. Look for reading lists regarding your area of interest

2. Find Experts. Follow Them. Listen To Them. For whatever cause you're most passionate about there are plenty of people who have been working to promote that cause and they're the voices you must seek out. These people will be best able to tell you where to send your support what resources are needed, what work has to be done, how you can best help. And the most important thing is to LISTEN. Don't demand an education. Don't argue. Don't insert yourself into a conversation between experts. Listen, and learn.

3. If You Want To Give, Give What Is Asked For Don't give what YOU think people need, give what people KNOW they need. Support is only support if its useful, if it helps. Know what the need is and if you can help fulfill that need then do it

4. Be Ok With Being Uncomfortable. You are going to be wrong. You're going to be wrong about a lot of things. And that's ok. No one comes into the world fully formed and knowledgeable about everything and you're gonna mess up. You're gonna make people mad. It's ok You're also going to learn things that make you question yourself, your place in the world, your beliefs. You'll be confronted with a reality that hurts, that makes you defensive, even angry. You'll want to defend yourself, to declare that you aren't one of the bad ones . Don't. Understand it's ok to feel these things but work them out on your own. Don't force your discomfort on people who are doing work and have been for a long time. Sit with your discomfort. Examine it. Accept that you will be uncomfortable, and that doesn't make you a bad person.

5. Choose A Cause. Don't Put Down Other Causes. We all have things we're passionate about. Maybe it's prison reform, or climate change, or healthcare, or immigration. We can't do everything, we can't support every cause. It's ok to specialize and it's probably necessary BUT Do not come into discussions regarding OTHER causes and try and claim your cause is more important, more deserving of support. Don't derail conversations. Don't put down other people, other experts. Respect the work people do across all causes. It's all connected.

6. Pay People For Their Labor. I mean this should go without saying but I'm gonna say it. The articles/twitter threads you read don't just appear. They're work someone's done, labor someone's performed and then posted to allow free access. If you can, pay people for that work Subscribe to Patreons. Support people's Ko-Fis. Donate to GoFundMes. Leave tips in digital tip jars. Even if it's only a little bit it makes a difference and shows you respect and understand the work being done, the effort and cost of creating free content.

7. The Local Is As Important As The Global.  Big issues like climate change seem way too immense for one person to address and they are. But you can make a difference on the local level in so many different ways. Pay attention to local politics, local issues, local elections What is your local school board doing? What is your town/city doing about affordable housing? Homelessness? Community healthcare? So many decisions are made at the local level. Figure out what you can do to help make the right decisions

8. If You Can Take Part In Public Action Do It. Mass public action is one of the most effective ways of protesting. In fact mass public disruptions are pretty much the only really effective methods of getting the attention of those in power & making them afraid. Of course we can't all march and that's fine. But we can help in other ways. We can donate to organizations that provide legal aid to protesters. We can share information. We can send supplies. There are lots of ways to show support with those who are marching and importantly we can normalize mass public disruption as a legitimate method of protest Remember Occupy Wall Street? So many people--even those on the left--treated it as a joke. We need to change that attitude and SUPPORT those willing & able to disrupt the machinery of power

9. Elevate Marginalized Voices. Remember that for every Greta Thunberg there's an Autumn Peltier or Mari Copeny. When you support activists make sure you're not just supporting white activists, western activists, conventionally attractive/acceptable activists. Assess who you're most often retweeting or sharing and make an effort to promote marginalized activists who may not get the same level of public acceptance as white/cis/abled activists

10. Above All Remember: Systems Are The Enemy. It's easy to focus all our ire on Trump and to pretend one person can be responsible for all the wrong we're fighting but the problems we have go back far longer than 2016. From climate change to violence in the Middle East systemic forces like capitalism & white supremacy are the enemies we must dismantle. Which means we always have to look beyond the current president, the current super-villain and ask how we can change the system, not the person Don't get caught up in attacking one man attack the system that allowed that man to assume power, and will continue to allow cruel brutal racists to claim control

And here are some basic bits of advice 
     -even your favs can mess up & should be held accountable
     -but we're all human & messing up is unavoidable
     -don't believe a single person can save us 
     -take care of yourself 
     -don't be afraid to be a jerk. don't be afraid to be kind

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