The presidential election is finally over, and a lot of us who have been afraid for the last four years are starting to feel safer now. Many of us are hopeful that things will calm down and the new administration will not ruin as many things as quickly as the last one. Transparently racist policies will likely be replaced with subtly racist policies, and news media will cover a wider range of topics in the vacuum left by the current president’s social media feed. If you feel like a weight has been lifted from you after the election, please use that energy to lend a hand to improving the lives of common people in your own communities.
The past few years have irreversibly changed us. In 2015, I had never seen a fascist and an anarchist squaring off at a protest. I had never cut someone I loved out of my life for political reasons. I thought “leftist” and “liberal” meant basically the same thing. I thought national problems were best solved through the national government. All of that has changed. Now that the Trump administration is nearly over, we finally have the opportunity to apply what we have all learned.
There is a lot to address, and I do not expect the federal government to provide meaningful help. Yet without their help, I do not know of much we can do for people detained by ICE. My best plan for addressing that is just to pressure everyone involved with the decision-making at these detention centers to stop detaining people.
We have to do something about the police ourselves. There are no official channels capable of removing the systemic biases inherent to the police force; as long as police continue to enforce property law, they will continue to oppress poor people, especially minorities. Ordinary citizens can’t cut the police budget, but we do have some control over the spaces they occupy. We need to seek out and use other means of handling situations typically delegated to the police.
In many cases, there are already other organizations that can be used instead, like suicide prevention lifelines and Copwatch, a community organization that monitors police for wrongdoing and trains volunteers to resolve sensitive issues without calling the police. We can all use and support organizations like these to keep the police out of our neighborhoods.
So many people are being forced to work during a deadly pandemic while their landlords continue to increase their rent prices. Every employed person reading this should join a labor union. While most of these are job-specific, the International Workers of the World will accept members from any field. If you can join a tenant union, please do so. It’s cheaper than renter’s insurance and can protect against crises that are more likely to happen, like evictions, illegal searches and gentrification.
Organizations including Planned Parenthood, Wikipedia, Project Gutenberg, the Socialist Rifle Association, Democratic Socialists of America and any local food pantries or churches that deal in community service, as well as many others, need a wide range of skilled volunteers in order to aid their communities. We need members of these communities doing as much as they can to make things a little nicer for everyone.
Just having the time and motivation to perform this sort of work is difficult, even now, but without our help, that will never get easier. This is our best chance to organize ourselves and start taking direct action.