Act Up, New York Activistas!

Don’t just sit there complaining. Now is the time for rallying, volunteering, contributing, and defiance. 

By Linda Dyett

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Pro-choice supporters rally outside the Supreme Court the morning of June 27, 2016, awaiting the decision of Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Photo by Lauryn Gutierrez/Rewire.

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This past presidential election has a silver lining: It’s turning progressives into hellbent supporters of human rights, voting rights, climate rights, refugee rights, minorities’ rights, women’s rights, and senior rights. Here’s how readers of NYCitywoman.com can participate—and win 2016 tax deductions if you hurry.

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Action is the antidote to despair  —Joan Baez

Like most New Yorkers, I’ve come to the post-election conclusion that the world we’re living in is going mad. We’re in uncharted waters—a maelstrom of grotesque bombast, racism, xenophobia, immigrant-phobia, misogyny, climate change-deniers, science deniers, demagogues, free press opponents, etc., etc., etc. You get what I’m talking about. And the incoming president is leading the way: Ignorant of the responsibilities he’s won and the complexities he’s facing, it looks like he’ll excel only at using his executive power for retribution, disdaining provable facts, and filling his own and his cronies’ coffers.

So yes, I’m angry and aggrieved, like many of you reading this. But it’s up to us, particularly those of us with time, resources, and decades of experience behind us, to protect the causes under attack today—especially those we embrace. We know what issues matter—whether they concern wars that shouldn’t be waged, treaties (like NATO) that must be honored, aid to embattled Aleppo, threats to the environment, abortion rights—or, for that matter, Medicare and Social Security, both at risk in the coming years.

What’s more, women today—let’s call ourselves activistas—have got to be at the forefront of protests. “Women are so resilient and so naturally able to multitask, even when we are emotional, that we can collectively take ownership of the future,” says Linda Lockhart, founder of the Global Give Back Circle that empowers girls in Africa and Asia.

Here’s how we can act:

RALLY

womens-march-nyc-300Join one of the Women’s Marches on January 21st, the day after the inauguration. Promoting “civil rights for every human, regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, religion or creed,” they’ll show the powers that be that we’re a force to be reckoned with. The main march will be held in Washington, D.C. A parallel New York rally will begin at 11 a.m. at various Manhattan locations, including Dag Hammarskjold Plaza and Union Square [other start locations to be decided] and culminate at Trump Tower. NYCitywoman.com will post late-breaking meeting-place alerts; also go to The Human First Society.

SUPPORT THE PRESS

The web is crawling with fake news and outright lies—including those from the president-elect: He has called journalists “disgusting,” “horrible” and “scum.” Climbing out of the post-fact universe we’ve recently entered and protecting our First Amendment Rights are absolutely vital to preserving our freedom and democracy. How best to accomplish this? Support legacy publications, including The New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, The Nation, The Atlantic, New Yorker, New Republic and The New York Review of Books. Sure, they all have biases—but they don’t invent facts. And they offer a range of views. The Nation’s contributing editor Stephen F. Cohen, for instance, is something of a Putin defender.

I for one have continued subscribing to the print editions of these publications (which generally includes digital access too) and urge you to do the same. Why? Print journalism must survive! Print publications are scrutinized and fact-checked far more thoroughly than most sites appearing online.

CONTRIBUTE

In the spirit of civic engagement that goes beyond petition-signing, give generously of your money and time. Below are lists of some of the nonprofit organizations (including a few outliers) needing your help. Many of them multitask, supporting, say, voting as well as abortion rights. Many seek volunteers. All of them need financial support (which is generally tax-deductible—so hurry, 2016 is nearly over). À propos of which, John Oliver, the irrepressible host of HBO’s Last Week Tonight, has two suggestions: 1) If you’ve got the wherewithal, check the box for recurring donations, because—as Oliver phrased it—this isn’t a short-term problem. And 2) make some of your donations in the names of relatives who supported Trump. They’ll be sent Thank You notes—which should drive them appropriately nuts! Of course, you can also make your contributions in honor or in the memory of loved ones.

With all the threats posed by the incoming administration, it can be bewildering choosing among the many groups needing support. If I’ve left out a deserving nonprofit you support, please alert NYCitywoman to this in the Comments section below this article.

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Caritas has been providing Syrian refugees with emergency assistance, initially in Lebanon and now within Syria and in Jordan.

AID TO REFUGEES

War and climate refugees, displaced persons, cities and towns virtually destroyed, mass killings, widespread starvation: These are routine facts of life in the 21st century.

In Aleppo, one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities, the entire civilian population has been trapped and traumatized by the Syrian Civil War; many have lost families due to genocide that may recur at any time. These organizations are providing nonstop lifesaving assistance:

The Armenian Relief Society, which runs individual Save a Life, Sponsor a Family, Warm Home and Hot Meal programs has been at the forefront of relief assistance. So have CARE, Caritas Syria, The International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, The International Refugee Assistance Project and The Jesuit Refugee Service.

And for assistance worldwide, consider, as well: Doctors Without Borders, Global Give Back Circle, Mercy Corps, Migrant Offshore Aid Station, Save the Children, and UNICEF.

PROTECTING DEMOCRATIC AND VOTING RIGHTS

Bold Progressives: Pressure-exerting operation that gathers support for, among many others, the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party and fighting the use of corporate money in politics.

Center for American Progress: Monitors the populist explosion, protects public education, protects the working class in the Trump era—and does much more.

CREDO Action: Organizes activists for social change in a multitude of causes. Currently it is urging NBC to end its business relationship with Trump.

Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee: The party arm that helps win state legislative majorities. Its Advantage 2020 program specifically tackles Republican gerrymandering.

Government Accountability Project: Promotes government and corporate accountability in areas ranging from corporate and financial accountability to national security and human rights.

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Protesters walk along Washington Avenue during a Black Lives Matter rally on April 29, 2015 in Minneapolis. Photo by Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune.

PROTECTING MINORITY RIGHTS

The American Civil Liberties Union: Goes to courts and legislatures protecting rights of individuals, voters, at-risk minorities, immigrants’—and the Constitution. Now it’s Trump who’s in their sights.

Black Lives Matter: The scrappy grassroots group that got under way after the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Praised worldwide ever since for its strategically run protests and street demonstrations.

Center for Constitutional Rights: Assists activists in civil rights legislation and social justice movements.

Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund: Protects the rights of Latinos in the U.S. Opposes gerrymandering plans that disadvantage Mexicans.

NAACP Legal Defense Fund: Our premier legal organization fighting to end racial bias in the criminal justice system, protect voting rights, promote equal pay and remove racial barriers in education. naacplegaldefensefund.org

Southern Poverty Law Center: Monitors hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and antigovernment militias. Shatters barriers for women, vulnerable children, the LGBT community and the disabled.

PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT

If Trump’s cabinet is approved, it is poised to hurl us into climate catastrophe. Below are some of the organizations determined to protect the future of our earth.

Natural Resources Defense Council: Combats air, land and water pollution and corporate greed.

World Wildlife Fund: Promotes wilderness protection and helps reduce humanity’s footprint on the environment.

And consider, as well: Climate Reality ProjectEnvironmental Defense Action Fund, Riverkeeper (protecting the Hudson): and Waterkeeper Alliance.

PROTECTING REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

Bold Progressives: “The toxic strain of misogyny brings us back to the kind of struggle I had 60 years ago.” So said the Pulitzer Prize-winning cultural critic Margo Jefferson recently. Abortion rights should be of particular concern to those of us who came of age in the pre-Roe v. Wade days before 1973. As the only women alive today who lived through or witnessed the life-threatening wire-hanger horrors faced by women and girls seeking abortions back then, it’s incumbent on us senior citizens to warn Millennials and Gen Zers of what’s ahead if we lose this legislation. It’s our responsibility.

Center for Reproductive Rights: The only global advocacy group dedicated to reproductive rights. Brings groundbreaking cases before U.S. courts, UN committees and human rights organizations.

Planned Parenthood: Our bulwark against the continued weakening and very possible repeal of Roe v. Wade. On the forefront fighting for abortion access, birth control, health care equity, sex education, prosecuting and preventing sexual assault.

FIGHTING FOR SENIOR RIGHTS

“It is clear that Washington Republicans are plotting a war on seniors. Every senior, every American, should hear this loudly and clearly.” Those are the words of Senate Minority Leader and New York State Senior Senator Chuck Schumer. This one is personal for us, ladies.

National Council on Aging: Assists seniors—especially those in need—with Medicare coverage, chronic disease self-management, elder justice, hunger initiatives and eligibility benefit check-ups—among many other initiatives.

The Transition Network: A national community-based organization bringing women over age 50 together to share experiences, learn, and assist one another in going through retirement and other transitions. A sub-committee formed in the wake of the presidential election seeks to influence public policy and legislation concerning reproductive health, hate crimes, the environment, interfaith tolerance, immigration, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, and fake news. To join this sub-committee, contact Marticia Madory, mmadory1@verizon.net or MaryLou Floyd, maryfloyd19@aol.com.

FIGHTING FOR LGBT RIGHTS

We’ve come far in embracing gay rights and gay acceptance, and in advancing AIDS and HIV treatment and prevention. But Mike Pence as vice president—and potential president—is a threat to all the strides we’ve made.

PFLAG NYC: Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays. Helps keep schools safe, strengthens families, improves workplaces, educates the general public. Founding chapter is in New York.

The Trevor Project: The leading national organization offering crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to gay, lesbian, transgender and LGBT youth, age 13-24.

Linda Dyett’s articles on fashion, beauty, health, home design, and architecture have appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Monocle, Afar, New York magazine, Allure, Travel & Leisure, and many other publications.

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  • Stacia Friedman

    Great article!

  • skhuyser

    I’m fired up and getting ready for the Women’s March in NYC, January 21st!

  • Excellent! I’ll be marching in Philadelphia on the 21st and will be supporting many of these great causes going forward. Thank you!
    b

  • ssrsich

    So much to do — and now you’ve shown us how much we can do. Thanks for a great article!

  • skhuyser

    I also believe in AARP, the powerful lobbying group dedicated to people over 50. Once you get over the shock of becoming a member :), you realize how much good they have done and can do.

  • Sally Wendkos Olds

    What a terrific article! We all want to do something — and you have given us a clear road map on how to proceed full speed ahead!

  • Elyce Wakerman

    Wonderfully informative. Thanks to NYCityWoman and Linda Dyett for providing this comprehensive list.

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