Just finished watching The Sixties “The Times They Are A-Changing” episode. Anyone with Netflix should take some time to watch this series. It’s an amazing history lesson, but the similarities between activities going on then – civil rights marches, women’s rights marches and movements, LGBT movements, Latino movements, environmental protection and climate change discussion – and now are powerful to reflect on.
Rachel Maddow touched upon the similarities of “then vs. now” politically when she discussed Barry Goldwater running for President on a platform that pushed for a more conservative agenda for Republicans, one that said there was a need for less government involvement in society. Goldwater’s famous (or infamous) quote says “I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.” This lead to extremist groups like the KKK endorsing Goldwater’s presidential bid, which in turn forced him to voice his disapproval of the group and rejection of their endorsement. (If this sounds like things we witnessed in 2016, congratulations, you’ve been paying attention).
Beyond the political similarities (like Nixon calling for a stronger “rule of law” during the turbulent year of 1968 – another great episode in the series The Sixties), the social activism during that period is something I had studied as part of my history lessons but I had not realized how many social movements were happening during that time. The women’s liberation movement discussed in “The Times They Are A-Changing” was fascinating to me. There they are in the ’60s discussing equal pay, the right for women to take charge of their reproductive health via family planning and birth control, and the long list of things women were not allowed to do before the movement (such as go to an Ivy League school, get a credit card or a bank account in her own name, or even serve on a jury). While we’ve overcome some of these hurdles, it’s astonishing we’re still arguing over reproductive rights and access as well as equal pay for equal work in 2016!
These are just some of my take-aways from watching this show. It’s worth viewing, both to remind ourselves that the United States has faced some of these present-day challenges before and also to remind us that some of these struggles have been going on for FAR too long.
We’ve come a long way since those days and yet clearly, as exemplified by recent days, have so much further to go.
Following my observation of all the activity during the Women’s March yesterday, I sat down and listed the causes or issues about which I am passionate. I decided to keep the list under 10 items, knowing that while I care about many topics there are only so many you can really engage in without overwhelming yourself.
After much deliberation, I came up with the following list (not in any particular order):
I believe firmly that everyone should have the right to vote. I believe everyone should have easy access to voting. I believe tools such as opt-out voter registration and early voting should be put in place to encourage voter turnout. Area for further research: Voter redistricting
Health Care Access (and Affordability)
I believe that everyone should have access to affordable healthcare, though I understand that finding a middle ground on this issue is complicated. What I do not endorse is the removal of anyone’s health insurance without a clear replacement plan. I believe we must protect that most vulnerable. Affordable health care is an area we should all remind ourselves to “do unto others” before we make sweeping decisions. We should all attempt to “do no harm”. Area for continued research and inquiry: ACA repeal efforts, compromises required to achieve affordable healthcare for the greatest number of people, how to bring down health care costs.
This is my industry of work, so it is critically important to me that access to quality education be made available to all. It is absolutely necessary for individual and national success. I believe that there is an important role for public education. I believe there is great value in exploring ways to shake up the status quo in academia. I believe that public dollars should not fund private, religious schools. I believe educational quality is paramount. I believe the hype about current forms of standardized tests is nonsense. (That last one is me being reactionary to all the awful tests I had to take. I recognize some will argue the benefits of these tests, but I am not a fan and haven’t yet run across data that makes me believe our current tests benefit students). Area for continued inquiry (short-term): Betsy DeVos confirmation and her desire to funnel public dollars away from public education, Betsy DeVos’ plans for higher education. (Long-term inquiry areas too numerous to list here, but will likely surface in this blog over time).
In a time where President Trump’s administration feels comfortable using terms such as “alternative facts” (see today’s Meet the Press conversation), I believe we need investigative journalism more than ever. I believe that Dan Rather’s FB posts (see latest on the importance of truth and facts) and his organization News and Guts and so many individual journalists out there do a great service by engaging in fact-checking and calling out those who seek to obfuscate the truth. Area for action: Donate to investigative journalism organizations + subscribe to newspapers.
As a first-generation American, I believe immigration issues require thoughtful consideration prior to action. I believe that we must consider the human sentiments of those affected by immigration activities. I believe we should have clear immigration policies but also plans for those who may have been brought to this country illegally but now wish to find pathways to citizenship. I believe this is a complicated issue but not one that can be resolved by ripping families apart. I believe building a wall will not solve anything. Areas for further research and inquiry: Plans for DACA and what impacts will be, keeping an eye on the Dream Act or future variations, watch for signs of mass deportation of non-criminals, voice loud opposition to any attempts for a registry by religious affiliation, support for easier immigration processes for those married to US Citizen, those with family in US, or wishing to study in US.
A friend of mine wrote a public post on Facebook that really resonated with me:
Find an organization that protects and supports something that doesn’t directly make your life better. If you’re straight, pick an LGBT organization. If you’re white, pick a minority protection group. If you’re an atheist, find a local church soup kitchen. If you’re religious, pick a religious freedom protection organization. Pledge a $5 recurring monthly donation. Have it automatically withdrawn from your bank or credit card. That way, three years from now, when I have forgotten what I’ve felt for the last 6 months, I’m still “doing something”. The important parts of this are 1) the organization has to be something that doesn’t benefit you directly, 2) it is small enough for you not to consider cancelling it and 3) it is recurring…with no end date. – David Lamb
As a straight woman who considers herself an ally, his point in his post was one I took notice of. LGBT rights area something I am only indirectly familiar with. It’s a struggle that does not touch me directly but affects many people I love and care about. To that end, I want to continue to research and understand the concerns of the LGBT community and stand up to any who propose to deny them rights. This is an area I will constantly be looking for insight on so that I can know how to be a better ally. I will also be looking for suggestions on the best organizations to donate to, so please comment if you have thoughts on this!
Clean water / Protecting the Great Lakes
I believe that clean water is something to which all U.S. citizens should have access. The continued crisis in Flint, MI, my home state, is appalling. I would never have thought such a thing could occur in a state I still love and care about passionately. It is also the reason I believe we must voice opposition to any action that affects clean water (#NoDAPL). Also, having grown up just miles from the shores of Lake Michigan and having traveled around the Great Lakes throughout my childhood and into my adult years, I cannot stress enough how important the conservation and preservation of the Great Lakes is to me. Areas for further research and action: Remain vigilant of any efforts or actions that endanger clean water, research organizations focused on preserving the Great Lakes, continue pushing for solutions for Flint, watch environmental protection activities generally and any efforts to do away with said protections.
These are my personal feelings and my personal causes to which I’ve decided to pay more attention.
My goal is to donate to organizations supporting these causes (current plan is $50/mth split between 2 to 3 cause-related orgs a month) as well as choose as issue or two to become more active on. I am saving this here as a way to keep track of my plans and, as time goes on, my progress. I know, not being independently wealthy, that my donations will be small and that my ability to be active may be limited by a busy life schedule, but this is a start. Just getting my thoughts out of my head and into a blog post is one small step toward doing something more than just thinking and fretting.
Finally, I will reiterate that these are not all the causes that are important to me. These are just the ones on which I will actively focus. I look forward to working with all my friends who are working on so many important causes and will share those stories on here from time to time as well!