Activism in These Critical Times
The last few weeks I have been terrified to check my phone. Usually I love to check out what I’ve missed on Twitter, Instagram, and my favourite blogs since I last double tapped. You know, get a sense of the scoop. That’s no longer the case. I cringe as I await the barrage of terrible, horrific things happening from a state of fear and hate.
It seems a bit ridiculous to go about our days – be it in fashion or otherwise – when the world is crashing down all around us. There are bigger things at stake. I know I’m not a politician but I am more and more political about the things I value. What I value most is the beauty of humanity. Integral to that beauty is equality.
There’s a lot at stake – immigrant rights, refugee rights, women’s rights, LGBTQ persons rights, mental health rights, environmental tragedies, religious freedoms, and common safety to name a few – and it appears to be getting more and more intense. Here at home too.
The world of fashion job is to cloth the willing. Further, its purpose is to help genuinely express the lives of the wearer. In many instances, it’s to help create – or escape - a situation in ones life. Boy, does an escape sound great right about now.
One way the world keeps on turning – while this shit show is underway – is the film industry’s awards shows. Ah, an escape indeed. The latest fete was the SAGs. There’s nothing like a bunch of attractive celebrities dressed to the nine’s to help whisk you away for a moment, hey? The other thing that I love about award shows (Oscars, Golden Globes, Grammys, VMAs) is that it gives the viewer a chance to ponder the lives of the stars and the causes they support.
This past weekend, many stars not only dressed impeccably well – shout out to Mahershala Ali, Nicole Kidman, Rami Malek, Michelle Williams – many took a stand. Mahershala vulnerably shared that he was a Muslim and he and his ordained minster mother have found a way to see one another. That their relationship has grown since he converted. I interpreted his message to be something along the lines of love, not fear or hate, is the answer.
Other stars including Julia Louis-Dreyfus, David Harbour, Taraji P. Henson, Ashton Kutcher, Sarah Paulson, and the cast of Orange is the New Black shared their sorrow over the POTUS executive ordered immigrant ban. Simon Helberg of Big Bang Theory and his wife, Jocelyn Towne, wore their protests via sign and body paint as they walked the red carpet. Every picture of the couple captured and shared the statements, "refugees welcome" and "let them in." That's powerful.
Now, these are celebrities using their fame to elevate awareness in anyone who watched. I understand that they are part of the privileged few who have the time, resources, and clout to go out on a limb.
We “real people” may have to choose our battles a bit. We need to consider where and when we will have the most impact. If we get political, say at work, we could ostracize ourselves. To be clear, I'm not suggesting risking losing your job. Sticking up for what’s “right” all the time is nearly impossible. Let's reality check, shall we? I would wager that no one is looking for perfection. Perfect is not a thing. I urge us all to focus efforts on positive actions, not so much on our inadequacies.
What I am challenging myself and those close to me is to do something. Anything. Pick even one small thing to show that if you think it’s not okay, you actually do something about it. Need some ideas?
Here’s a sample of what you can do:
- March. Non-violently protest. Support a cause. Learn about a cause dear to you and learn how to be an effective part of that community or an ally.
- Refuse to support businesses that spout hate by boycotting Trump.
- Speaking of no-thanks-Mr. Trump here's one that’s easy to do: consider deleting Uber.
- Contribute to organizations that are fighting injustice and inhuman actions.
- Speak up at social or family gatherings. If someone says something that is not cool, tell them that it’s not cool. Easy. Because they are people you love and they love you, you’re well positioned to have a kind, thoughtful discussion focused on doing better together.
- Remind your family that we are all – mostly – immigrants. My go-to is asking what year great grandma and great grandpa came over. And if you’re really lucky they may even know why they chose Canada to immigrate to.
- Another easy idea is getting crafty. DIY a t shirt, backpack, or whatever and share your love and support for someone wrongfully targeted. Wear that when you’re off duty. It’s not a big gesture, I know, but it’s something.
- Finally, call a loved one and simply chat with them. Check in to see how they are doing. Sometimes just being there can be a huge help.
It's up to you to decide: where do you stand and what do you feel is your responsibility.