Humor and Activism
I’m back on, baby!!
Over the past year I have been super into blogging, and writing for different publications, and even getting paid through freelance gigs. I’ve been slowly building a brand for myself, and engaging mildly in the capitalistic shenanigans of the writing/artistic professional world.
This fall however I became fully employed with two jobs — one at the library and another at a local peace activist organization. These jobs filled my brain and my soul- and and I was planning on continuing this work full time for the rest of my life (as you do). I tend to fall in love with most jobs I get (when I get them), and this was no different.
“I commit to being a political organizer for the rest of my life, that is the only thing that matters!” I also realized that continuing a profession in library science was probably responsible, as political organizing jobs are not the most reliable (and definitely don’t give you health insurance).
Flash forward a few months, and my temporary organizing job ended. I applied for the full time position, and waited, and waited, and waited, and then had a pretty kick ass interview (I thought) and then waited. I heard back from one of the organizers a week later, he told me that it was between me and another girl (though many people had applied) but they had given the job to the other girl.
For only six months of legit organizing experience in Syracuse, I considered this to be a success (even as I cried my eyes out for ten minutes following). Outside while I was silently (or not so silently) allowing myself to sob and mourn the loss of a stable job that was right down the street, I saw a shooting star in the night. I knew in my heart that this was the right course of action (not getting the job), but the unknown seemed so big and scary. And the money woes seemed to be pressing down on my shoulders at every minute of the day.
Flash forward to today- a few days later- and things are looking up. I’ve got myself organized, I have my priorities, and I have basically picked up where I left off this fall when I took on my two jobs. I taught myself this morning how to code amazon associate links into my book review posts on my blog (to hopefully garner a few bucks a month from the wealthy soul who can afford to buy books online). And I also realized that I really need to start building community again on the online community if I am to take this thing seriously.
Additionally, I am currently taking a criminal justice law class and an editing class online (I have been focusing on the criminal justice law class mostly). But I realize that the tools are at my disposal to focus on writing, reading and being again. Writing is my true soul, organizing work is something that is essential for social change and something that I feel I am at least fairly natural at, and something that will be nice to bring a bit of money and community together from time to time. But I’m looking forward to being able to write freely again, and explore the world which I feel is the most radical form of resistance: building community in the places people say it can’t be built.
I am currently engaged in various projects that I have not updated anyone on — but the most intriguing one so far is the PeaceMaking Circle ongoing training that I am a part of. Peacemaking is a traditional Native American approach to justice and the criminal justice system. Instead of putting people in jail and blaming the individuals for their actions, Native peoples bring the person into a Peacemaking circle and ask them what they as a community did wrong for this person to act in the way they did. They ask how they can do better as community so that the person doesn’t feel the need to go this same path again. The New York criminal justice system has recently accepted this approach in certain cases/ certain cities in the state, and we are being trained to be able to practice this focus on “healing and community restoration rather than punishment”. Our training kicked off with a weekend long retreat together, and we will be meeting for the next three months to learn and grow together. There are about 30 of us.
On top of that, I am signed up to start another few months of training with the local Jail Ministries, which goes into the city jail regularly and provides support for those imprisoned. Some people can be in jail only a few days, while others can be in jail for years because they are unable to pay their bonds, and the court system is backlogged on court dates. Along with that, I am part of a criminal justice reform committee in the city that has taken on the project of bail reform.
Related to that, I am also involved with the local police accountability committee which seeks to strengthen the Citizen Review Board, encourage police forces to do implicit and racial bias/ mental health awareness/ and de-escalation trainings, as well as redefine their “use of lethal force” policy for the city. I recently also had the chance to complete an eight hour training session of Mental Health First Aid USA, which provides community members with a basic framework of mental health crisis and ways you can help, or at least be knowledgeable about what might be happening.
I am also still involved with the local ally group, “Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation” which seeks to serve as allies to the Native population. We are still working on the campaign to change Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples’ Day. I am also active on the Peace Newsletter Editorial Board, where we publish an activist newspaper every few months. I also got invited to join the Peace Council’s steering committee board, but think that I am going to drop that as I already have enough on my plate/ am already on the board for our collective.
Mmm, what else? There are constantly events and potlucks that I am attending, as well as the meetings for the local anti-war group that I am a part of. We are teaming up with the national Poor Peoples’ Campaign movement, which was started by Martin Luther King long ago and has been reignited in the US this past year by Rev. Barber. The Poor Peoples’ Campaign is planning 40 days of civil disobedience in the US this spring, and we are beginning to plan as a city for that. I am also going to help out with a potential divest campaign to go along with that. I do media advisories and press releases for this group as well.
I am also a part of the local Rapid Response network, which responds to attempts at deportation, and follows up after the fact with media and demonstrations. This group has been taking up a lot of my time recently, as it really seems to be the most pressing issue right now in the city (and the nation) as people are being ripped from their homes on a daily basis and put in prison or deported to a country they might not know anything about. Along with immigrant rights activism, I am continuing to do work with CIVIC and their hotline for immigrants in detention centers. Two hours a week I answer calls from people in detention, and plug them into our CIVIC network.
I’m still planning a career in the library (have the next steps planned out), but I will definitely continue my activism throughout my library career.
I write all of this mostly to update my family and let them know that I am not just sitting around in the great white North twiddling my thumbs — but I’m attempting to kick some major ass. Also, I hope writing about my activism inspires other people to know that there is so much to be done, and so much help needed. If you are thinking about getting involved in the activist community but are unsure how to go about it or have reservations, please reach out to me with your questions!
I’ve been hesitant to write blog posts recently because I’m not sure which direction I want to take this blog, but I think what I have decided on are two things:
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© Copyright 2018 Annie Windholz