By Kenya Cummings
It has been a little over a week since the Presidential election. donald trump is the president-elect. This news erupted in protest, fear and sharing of resources. I have read tons of articles and watched protests happening. The fear is heavy. The desire to be a part of the resistance is urgent. It is a quite a time to be alive. Many people who have been challenged to think about how they would respond in the midst of hatred in our history. The time is now. We must be vigilant. We must act. We must gather all of our courage to say that our neighbors matter in our words and actions. We must resist the belittling and reduction of human rights. And if this is an endeavor you must carry, I have formulated a simple but challenging list.
1. An ability and willingness to learn – You are now compelled to do things to do have never done before. You have found ways to show your support or help protect the vulnerable. Nothing you can do feels like it is enough, but there is so much wisdom from past revolutions and movements. The Civil Right Movement used teach-ins as an effective tool for resistance and power building. If we are to join the revolution and current freedom movements, we must be willing to learn. There is wisdom in books, films, people and the experience of people living in the margins. We must be willing to listen for directions and heed the direction of people who know about survival in turbulent times.
2. A community to work with – You cannot do freedom work alone. We must use the wisdom and work of those who worked before us. We must also find people who are committed to freedom. There are groups who are formed and doing the work: The Sanctuary Movement, Black Lives Matter, the Donald Trump Resistance, Showing Up For Racial Justice, and Fig Tree Revolution. These communities will help give you direction and accountability. This work is hard and you will need companionship. It is also a matter of safety. There is a more protection in numbers in direct actions. The community will offer a place for celebration, reflection, work and mourning. And these tasks will always be at the center of this movement building.
3. Knowledge that your life is tied to this work – "If you have come here to help me, then you are wasting your time…But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together."(--Lila Watson) This is a powerful statement and it is a requirement for the work. We are one people. We are better because of the contributions of people who are often marginalized. The work you do to resist the evils is work we do because we know that evil can and will destroy all. It is not healing and it will not yield healthy fruit. If we choose to resist we must do so knowing our lives are tied together. The movement needs co-laborers and co-conspirators, not helpers.
4. Care of yourself – Freedom work is hard. It will open up wounds and it will expose parts of your soul. You must choose to care for yourself. Audre Lorde wrote “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” The weight of the work can be crushing but we must choose to care for our needs. We must choose to cultivate peace in our lives. If we neglect this care we sacrifice our most valuable assets to this work, the people.
5. Showing up as yourself – Freedom-work is about freedom. If you show up to this work pretending to be someone you are not, you will be exposed. The work requires you to bring yourself to it. It requires you to know your gifts and talents. The movement needs writers, teachers, professors, speakers, preachers and whatever you must bring. But you must bring it as an offering to help us heal and to resist the evils present in the world. This work will transform you. It will embolden you. It will fuel you for days ahead if you allow it.
This is a short list. It is not exhaustive. It is offered as guide to help with the work you are committed too. It is offered to give means of reflection as we do the work. What is missing from this list? What would you add to it? Join the conversation on our Facebook page and let us know what you would suggest as well!
Kenya is a recent graduate of Methodist Theological School in Ohio with a Master of Divinity degree. She is unapologetically black and unashamedly spiritual. She is a neo-soul loving preacher with a heart and mind for justice. She is a graduate of the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Science degree in Family Science with a minor in African American Studies. She is a church misfit committed to the revival of church and facilitating the connection between church and community. She can be found smiling, recycling, or humming hymns on most sunny days.