Five Ways You Can Act for Human Rights After the U.S. Election
By Jiva Manske, Managing Director, Organizing and Activism at Amnesty International USA
Right now, people throughout the country — throughout the world — are afraid. The anti-human rights rhetoric and policies proposed by President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign, if realized, put many at grave risk. Trump’s rhetoric, and the media echo chamber of the last year, has fed a climate of hate and vilification. People fear intimidation, harassment, violence, sexual violence and even death.
Many people are seeking community and support. Some are angry. Some are taking to Facebook to share thoughts, some are taking to the streets. Others may feel hopeless. Many are springing into action.
Over the last week, we’ve seen incredible leadership from people whose lives have already been impacted by those emboldened by the xenophobic and misogynistic rhetoric of the campaign, and by people who will be directly impacted if the Trump Administration turns the campaign rhetoric into policy. We’ve also seen allies and accomplices step into action in tangible ways, beyond posting on social media, at times even putting their bodies on the line to defend dignity.
And yet, even many of the people we look to as leaders in struggle are hurting, and though each person will process differently, each of us has a choice: will we disengage, will we give up, will we hope for the best, will we be satisfied with symbolic shows of solidarity or online displays of outrage? Or will we stand up, speak out, push back against hate, and organize?
Now is the time for each of us to stand up in the ways that we can, seeking leadership from those who are directly impacted by the Trump campaign’s rhetoric; it’s time to listen to and lift up the voices of undocumented folks, our Muslim neighbors, recently resettled refugees, and others who will be hurt by the campaign promises we fear a Trump Administration will make good on. It’s time to put our values into action, to take care of each other, to act.
As legendary organizer Grace Lee Boggs said, in times of crisis “visionary organizers look at those people [who begin to find solutions], recognize them and encourage them, and they become leaders of the future.” Now is the time for you to be that leader, to be that visionary organizer, to demonstrate and build solidarity through action.
Here are five steps Amnesty members and human rights activists can take starting right now to defend and protect human rights:
This is not a moment to sit down with frustration, but rather to stand up against xenophobia, hate, and violence. Amnesty International has been fighting for dignity, justice, and freedom for over 55 years. Together, we can fight injustice wherever we see it, and uplift human rights wherever we can. Sign and share our pledge to join the movement here. Ask the people you know to sign up, too. Look for other ways that you can commit to the people and communities that are most impacted by the Trump campaign’s rhetoric.
2. Speak up
Once you’ve committed, it’s time to take action, and to get others involved. Now is not the time to “wait and see” what happens. Now is the time to hold the U.S. government accountable to human rights.
Too often, Trump’s campaign used fear, bigotry, and xenophobia to divide us. But that is not the America we believe in. Amnesty International USA is calling on elected officials to stand up for human rights by making public statements and pledging to oppose legislative proposals based on refugee-bashing, anti-Muslim fear-mongering, and suggestions to engage in torture or other war crimes.
You can join the call to action by signing and sharing our petition to members of Congress, calling on them to defend human rights. Don’t stop there. Ask members of your community to do the same, and ask other community leaders to speak out publically. Every time you hear hateful or xenophobic rhetoric, call it out. Every time you see community members under verbal attack, intervene. And make sure to remember to protect your privacy online as you take action.
3. Show up
Taking action as an individual is a start, but it’s not enough. There’s great organizing happening throughout the country and across the world right now, much of it led by those who are most impacted by human rights violations and by those who would be most impacted by potential human rights violations under a Trump administration. Communities and local organizations have sprung into action in the wake of the election to host meetings throughout the country. National and international organizations have convened thousands of people to join strategy calls on how to protect human rights.
Find a meeting in your community by going online or talking to your friends and neighbors, get connected with others, and ask how you can be of service. Join a protest, and follow these tips to stay safe. Remember that law enforcement officials must ensure the right to peaceful assembly, including by facilitating protests.
4. Push back and make space
Once you are connected, you may find opportunities to lead. One way that you can lead is by challenging people in your life to do more, and creating spaces to turn feelings into strategic action.
Hateful rhetoric often occurs in private conversations or in the comments section of social media with friends, family, and neighbors. You can make a difference starting with educating and pushing back against fear, hate, and bigotry in your own personal interactions. You can make a difference in your circles by engaging those around you to counter fear, hate, and bigotry. Here are some guidelines for these tough conversations.
Take your work a step further by hosting a community conversation in your school, your place of worship, with your friends, or with your neighbors. You can create a safe space to turn reflections on experiences of fear, hate, and bigotry into strategies for action using AIUSA’s #AmericaIBelieveIn Toolkit.
Conversations open space for healing and strategy. Strategy that turns your connections, ideas, and other resources into action is what will ultimately ensure a United States that respects, protects, and fulfills human rights, from the local to the global.
Amnesty members and others throughout the country have been organizing all year to demand that their local governments respect human rights. You can be a part of that by joining or launching your own campaigns. Whether you’re organizing against hate, for refugee rights, for police accountability, or for other human rights issues, assess your group’s capacity and map your community, get the support you need to develop and sharpen your strategy, and launch your campaign.
In the days and weeks ahead these actions that get you connected, help you develop skills, and open opportunities for engagement and collaboration will make each of our movements stronger.