In my final year of high school, I had a spare period first thing in the morning. Without fail, I would go to the library, grab the Globe and Mail and read the paper. Then I went to university, discovered beer, boys, and online streaming of TV and keeping abreast of the global situation slid a few notches down my daily priority list. Even still, I have tried to keep a toe in the political pool, and have been watching with horror the car crash that is the current political state of the world. It has never seemed more clear that shouting into the twitter void or Facebook activist rage is not enough to quell the waves of human rights abuses that are occurring throughout the world.
I have been feeling helpless and have been really struggling with the question of what I can do to make a difference in this turmoil. I don’t have tons of cash, I don’t have much clout or a huge public platform. But I can show up. I can take up space on the street and join the thousands of voices demanding justice.
There is a big fear that “resistance fatigue” will start to trickle in. That people will start to become tired of being angry because there are just so many racist, sexist, and generally anti-human things to be angry about. That at a certain point, people will stop showing up, retreating again behind a screen.
Because I am at a loss of what else I can do at this time, I bought a tambourine, and I am gonna keep showing up.
I consider myself a beginner when it comes to activism, and I know I have much to learn from the people who have been fighting for the disenfranchised for the last decades, but I have also compiled a list of a few things to make a demonstration/march/protest kit particularly for cold weather (because I am basically a toddler and if I am cold and hungry, it is hard to be energized about standing in the street). Because dealing with a backpack in crowds is so annoying, I have taken the fanny pack + canvas bag approach. Here is what I stash in the bags.
- iPhone + extra juice – with Morphie battery pack case, to be able to charge my battery as the day goes on.
- Firechat – a free messaging app that doesn’t require a signal or mobile data and instead uses the power of other Firechat users to get messages across. If you have ever tried to meet up with someone at a music festival or demonstration, you know that as soon as the crowd increases, the cell service is so bogged down that it becomes nearly impossible to communicate.
- I have a small card holder to stash my ID, cash, and debit card in case of emergencies.
- Pen & notebook – I sometimes like to write down some observations at the event or reflections after the event.
- Warm water – Brought my trusty insulated water bottle with warm lemon water to the night demonstration against the Muslim Ban and it was a delight. Just enough to warm my insides when it got a bit chilly.
- Snacks – Angry about human rights abuses is the goal, not hangry because I didn’t bring any snacks. Tossing a granola bar, some fruit, or a few nibbles in my bag can extend my stamina a great deal.
- Bluetooth speakers and a kickass playlist – The person who has a Bluetooth speaker in their backpack is always a hero in the crowd. Ideally, they are the sort of considerate person who will pause the playlist while speeches or chanting are happening.
- Witty / poignant sign – This is an obvious one, but one I have not managed in yet. Some people’s signs are absolute gems, incorporating lights, art, rhymes, or historical/cultural references.
Before I go, I thought I would share a few things that made my heart smile this week.
1. Kids being woke
I think one of the ways you can feel more hopeful that the world is not “going to hell in a handbasket” is to see examples of good things in the world. At the various protests, seeing the kids that were engaged and involved bolstered my spirits. I saw a crayon-construction paper sign saying “Mr Trump please be nice” and heard an interview with two 10-year-old girls who were so impassioned and knowledgeable about women’s rights and human rights. Then articles like this help keep the good feelings roll. If you have a small person and are thinking of attending a protest or demonstration, this article is a gem.
2. Puppy protesters
Because when things seem really bad, looking at political puppies on the internet can be a pretty heartwarming experience. Like here and here.
3. Companies doing good
It’s easy to get disheartened about the corporations that are complicit in the perpetration of human rights abuses, so seeing companies who take steps to support human right give me the warm feelings in my heart.
I am a HUGE lipstick fan and love the look of this company, where 20% of sales (not just profits) got to support women’s rights and gender justice. Because human rights are beautiful. (currently only shipping to the USA).
4. Feminist crafts
One of my ways of decompressing and is to cross-stitch or embroider, so why not stich a statement?
Now, I am not suggesting that making a placard for your puppy, buying a tube of lipstick, and doing some cross-stitching are enough to quell the waves of injustice that are reverberating across the globe, but together we are gonna make a change. Because there is no other option.
See you out there, on the internet AND in the streets.