I don’t usually talk about my “daytime” profession, but I’ve been working in the nonprofit industry pretty much my entire career and have led a colorful history of student leadership and community involvement from elementary school up until I graduated, where I continued being in that space. I keep telling myself and others that I can’t escape the nonprofit industry, but maybe the real truth is that I don’t want to. Deep down inside, I feel I owe it to my community and to the people before me to maintain the foundations and resources that gave me access to the tools and experiences that made me who I am today.
I could list a thousand programs that have touched many different parts of my life for the better. Food stamps, welfare, scholarships, donated canned goods collected at holiday drives, initiatives that propelled student and workforce diversity and inclusion and free therapy sessions for dealing with childhood trauma that unexpectedly popped up in my adult life. To name a few.
Our lives are most likely impacted by similar initiatives that were founded by leaders who identified a need in the community. And that community is inclusive of people we know and love. People whose dimensions may be different from us whether it be by gender, race, upbringing, class, or whatever else labeling identifications we use to describe one another. Or maybe, these people are just the same as us, but sometimes, these same people may not have access to the same tools that enrich our lives, like voting rights or an internal belief that home is a safe place to be.
On January 21, 2017, the largest coordinated protest in U.S. history took place when 6 million people of all backgrounds on all seven continents came together to be accounted for in a world they believed to be equitable. A world where human rights and the needs of our communities would be addressed and protected. And its because of these rights and needs that the Women’s March was founded. After realizing how peaceful and powerful it would be to participate, I decided the night before that I wanted to attend the 2018 march.
But yesterday, there was a sheer level of irony that stopped me from attending a Women’s March event. I woke up to painful cramps at 3am. After having experienced the very same type of cramps 12 times a year for the past 16 years, I managed to master forcing myself to sleep through the pain. And so I did, but much longer than I had hoped for. An aspect of my being that makes me a “woman” prevented me from attending an event made for women. And of course, made to represent others beyond women.
Should you feel empowered to participate in the Women’s March, here are some ways to be “present” beyond being at the annual event itself.
DESIGN AND CREATE POSTERS
This would probably be my most favorite way to help out! Posters carried by those in attendance colorfully lends a voice and adds character to these types of rallies. The fun part is that your poster can communicate whatever it is that you want to say. I’ve enjoyed seeing photos with the most wonderfully outrageous posters; some humorous, some visually appealing and some are even perfectly simple, but have just the right words written on it. Even if you’re not attending yourself or if there’s not a march in your area, you can hand it off to someone you know who is going that can distribute it to attendees who don’t have one to hold OR you can simply snap a photo and share it with the world declaring your support.
ORGANIZE A RALLY IN YOUR AREA
Speaking of NOT having a march in your area, have you checked on the Sister Marches webpage or conducted a quick search on Google (use keywords: Women’s March YEAR CITY) to see if there’s a march nearby? Try putting out some feelers to your social network in case someone else is thinking the same thing that you are then start collaborating! While it may seem like a heavy feat to take on, it doesn’t have to be. Perhaps it’s a group of 10 empowered people in your group that holds signs in front of your City Hall while the larger rallies take place across the globe. Or maybe it’s hosted in someone’s backyard. No matter how big or small you make it out to be, hosting a rally in your town is possible and if you put it out there to the world, it’s guaranteed to expand in interest by others. Here’s a toolkit on how to organize one in your community.
GET SOCIAL AND GET LOUD
If you’re willing to create a poster and share the photo online as mentioned in the first point, you might as well take it a step further! Create some buzz within your network by gathering photos that speak to why you’re getting involved, tag @womensmarch in your photos and captions, and post before, during and after the event. At the bare minimum, that would be a total of three photos/captions to write and share. Easy! You can also go online using #womensmarch to search for photos that resonate and re-share those. Just be sure to credit your sources.
If you’re brave enough to get on camera (or even record something else while speaking in the background), share a video. Even though I wasn’t at the actual event, I was glad that I could tap into my network in real time to view photos and videos of those who were able. Additionally, there was nothing better than waking up the next day to seeing more of the same things in my feed, which empowered me to write this article.
IDENTIFY YOUR CONNECTION
The reality is, ANYBODY AND EVERYBODY can have a reason to support the Women’s March. So what’s yours? Take a moment to reflect on why such a movement shakes you to the core, then write it down. On paper. You don’t have to share it with anyone if you’re uncomfortable, but fold up that piece of paper and keep it safe with you at all times so that when you’re having a hard time, when something triggers you or when you need to be reminded of why you’re doing what you do, you can unfold and unwind. The story is there. Own it. Make it more than just a memory. Make it the reason why you continue to connect with others.
PURCHASE THEMATIC APPAREL AND TAKE ACTION
So this tip might be for the braver, louder ones, but a great way to show support beyond a one-day event is to don a branded item! The best part is, you can wear it throughout the year expressing your stance for human rights. Check out the Women’s March online shop to view apparel including t-shirts, posters, pins and tote bags. Another way to stay active is to visit the Previous Actions webpage designed to be interactive. It illustrates specific steps supporters can take to propel certain initiatives like sending postcards, reading up on informative, credible articles and downloading shareable graphics.
Today is the day after the second annual Women’s March. There’s a year left until the next one. For 2018, the organization is hyper focused on launching a national registration tour. In 2018, which actions will you take to advocate for policies and candidates that reflect values of our most impacted communities?
Thanks to Julie Ha Truong and Veronica An for allowing me to use their photos in this post! View more Women’s March photos by Veronica An.