living in the u.s. is a nightmare but immigrating here is worse: a guide to making both of those things untrue

things are really bad in the u.s. (and elsewhere, but i live here), particularly regarding this administration’s cruel and continuously-closer-to-genocide immigration policies, and i’m having a really hard time handling it, which it is a privilege to even be able to say. i don’t want to let my despair and fear and horror and sorrow keep me from working to make things better, so i’m putting together these resources because that’s what i’m good at and what helps me feel like i am doing something and can do something to fight these atrocities and help the people they affect. this post is broken down into two parts: hope and action steps.

hope

i’m starting with hope because i’m sure i’m not the only person struggling not to drown in despair and we’ve gotta start with solving that problem if we’re gonna get anywhere, because without believing that things can get better, we can’t work to make them better.

so here’s an article on the importance and necessity of hope/optimism, why we have to hold onto it and how it must be used. a highlight from that article:

Optimism, by contrast, especially optimism which is neither foolish nor silent, can be revolutionary. Where no one believes in a better future, despair is a logical choice, and people in despair almost never change anything. Where no one believes a better solution is possible, those benefiting from the continuation of a problem are safe. Where no one believes in the possibility of action, apathy becomes an insurmountable obstacle to reform. But introduce intelligent reasons for believing that action is possible, that better solutions are available, and that a better future can be built, and you unleash the power of people to act out of their highest principles. Shared belief in a better future is the strongest glue there is: it creates the opportunity for us to love one another, and love is an explosive force in politics.

here’s a fundraiser which was originally started with the goal of raising $1,500 to help families separated at the border and has, at the time of this writing, raised more than $20 million from more than 500,000 donors.

this fundraiser is proof that people care and that they are acting to stop the evil of the trump administration. (this doubles as an action step, you can still donate to this fundraiser, which supports RAICES, which describes itself as the largest immigration legal services provider in Texas.) here’s an article about what RAICES will be doing with this money.

also, the aclu reported yesterday that a federal judge ruled that the trump administration must reunite separated families within 30 days, and children under 5 must be reunited with their parents within 14 days and that families may no longer be separated in the future.

(a note on this good news, while it is good news, it does not mean that we’re done fighting! we still need immigration reform and if the trump administration has shown us anything it’s that they’ll commit new atrocities as quickly as they possibly can. also, we have yet to see any families reunited as of yet, to the best of my knowledge at the time of this writing. we have to hold them accountable to this ruling. further, we need to abolish ice to help prevent further injustices and we need to fight the muslim ban which the courts just ruled in favor of. so good news worth celebrating — yes. the end of this issue — no.)

with this all in mind, here’s an article about the necessity of not giving into despair. a highlight from this article:

[People affected by harmful policies] also don’t have the luxury of being numb from the news because in some instances what’s on the news is quite literally killing them. It’s on the rest of us to filter out anything that allows us to become paralyzed and to see what is real, all around us—to take real action to affect the real lives all around us. It’s unfair in the extreme, weary friends, but the fact of the matter is that every time we say we are tired, or giving up, or tuning it all out in the name of self-care, somewhere a Steve Bannon gets a new pair of wings. Or as Barber put it to me, “We lose only when we get quiet.”

action steps

protest: there are rallies being held across the country this coming saturday, june 30th, to protest this administration’s cruel immigration policies. you can find an event near you here.

(i went ahead and looked up the events for places where i know people: seattle, ia | muscatine, ia | iowa city, ia | springfield, il)

if you can’t find an event near you, here’s information on how to host your own.

remember! the executive order that trump signed does not solve the problem! here’s a note from the organizers of the june 30th protests:

The executive order that Donald Trump signed today is not a solution to the crisis created by his administration; it keeps kids imprisoned indefinitely, and doesn’t reunite thousands of separated families. But it does show the administration is reacting to public pressure, so we will continue to increase our pressure for justice at hundreds of events on Saturday, June 30, to say that families belong together—and free.

daily vigils are also being held at the seattle ice office. seattle isn’t alone in this: protesters in portland shut down the ice office there and protesters elsewhere have been following suit. you can do the same, by either joining a protest in your area or starting your own protest. i find protests to be a part of by searching on facebook.

also for those of us in seattle, the stranger has a resistance and solidarity calendar with other events you can participate in.

donate: slate put together the most comprehensive list of organizations working to help immigrants at the border that i’ve come across so far.

if reading and researching that many organizations is overwhelming for you, actblue has crafted a way to donate to many of them at the same time. it will split your donation evenly between the organizations it lists here.

help register voters: we’ve gotta get these motherfuckers out of office, guys. they’re doing evil work. like, this isn’t to say there aren’t flaws with our voting system, because there certainly are, but voting remains an important part of having a democracy and ours will be healthier with more voters participating and with better protection of voter rights.

you can sign up to volunteer with rock the vote here.

the american association of university women has a guide to organizing a voter registration drive and offers their public policy staff as a resource as well.

the league of women voters has action steps to take to protect voting rights and to support immigrants, among other things.

if you aren’t registered to vote yourself, please get registered and please, please, please dear god, turn out for the 2018 midterm elections. the new york times has a guide to the midterms so you can get an understanding of what’s going on, where, and when. the general election will be held on november 6th.

keep arguing with your friends on facebook against these practices: i know it can seem like you’re not getting anywhere when you get into it in the comments, but i promise you that that is good, useful, and important work. i learned almost everything i know about social justice by watching people hash it out with other folks online. you are unlikely to reach the person you’re actually talking to, that’s true, but they’re giving you a platform to lay out your argument and to present materials supporting it to a whole host of bystanders who can be swayed by what you’re saying. i was that bystander; i know the power of those arguments.

also, it’s important not to cede ground to people who would argue in favor of cruel immigration policies (or other cruelties). they don’t need more room to talk, they need less. if you can’t reach them, at least make them hesitant to spread their beliefs, whether they hold them out of ignorance or maliciousness.

i’m hoping to get a post together with resources to help you in having these arguments, but the state of things changes so fucking fast that i don’t know if i’ll be able to do that. if i do, i’ll link it back here.

if you have any other ideas about how we can work to protect immigrants, please list them in the comments. i’ll update this post as needed.

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i love you and i appreciate how much you care but please get better at talking about suicide

[this post deals with suicide. please read with care.]

hey guys, as someone who’s been suicidal and who has come frighteningly close to losing people i dearly love to suicide and who has helped people grapple with being suicidal and who loves people who have lost people they love to suicide, i am really begging you to please be more careful about how you talk about it.

talking about suicide *is* important and i don’t want to discourage you from doing that, but please please /please/ educate yourself about the best way to do so before you do or before you share articles that do. teen vogue has some good articles about this topic, including the following:

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/how-to-talk-about-suicide-without-adding-to-mental-health-stigma

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/how-to-talk-about-suicide-op-ed

also, the cdc has media guidelines to follow for talking about suicide, which we as individuals should also be following, especially when we’re talking about suicide on social /media/. these guidelines, which i have been referring to as i write this, are in an easy to understand format here: http://afsp.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/recommendations.pdf

a couple highlights from this guide: don’t talk about the details of a suicide. don’t share graphic depictions of suicide.

please do not post articles about people’s deaths by suicide that do not follow the guidelines outlined in the document above.

(a personal note about how not to talk about suicide: it is incredibly distressing to me to read people’s assumptions of what being suicidal is like, which are often implicit in the ways they offer care particularly on social media platforms after a celebrity has died by suicide. you are all so well-meaning and i love you for that, but i would truly prefer that you don’t comment about the nature of suicide when you don’t understand it. a good rule of thumb if you have not been suicidal yourself is to assume that you don’t understand it and to avoid speaking about it as if you do.)

the do’s and don’ts section of this web page, below the “how can you help them?” header provides a good guideline on how to talk about suicide with someone who is suicidal, which are also good things to be mindful of when making posts about suicide: https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/help-someone-else/

if you want to offer help to your loved ones on social media, a good way to do that would be to post the numbers of suicide prevention hotlines. (you can even call one yourself if you’re specifically worried about somebody you love, also, by the way, and they will help you help them.) the u.s. national suicide prevention lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-talk (8255).

this cnn article features more crisis line resources: https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/06/health/iyw-suicide-how-to-help/index.html

it is imperative to include information about ways to get help in any discussion you have about suicide.

you can also amplify the voices of people who /have/ been suicidal. a good post to share might be this one, from sam dylan finch, titled “what i wish my loved ones understood when i’m suicidal”: https://letsqueerthingsup.com/2017/09/10/what-i-wish-my-loved-ones-understood-when-im-suicidal/

please share these kinds of articles with care and with proper content warnings, like the one i used at the beginning of this post. these sorts of discussions can be triggering to folks, like they often are to me, especially when i’m not given the opportunity to prepare myself for them.

also, when talking about suicide, please avoid implying in any way that it is the fault of the people who are now grieving that their loved one died by suicide. they are not responsible for it and i promise you they are hurting enough. please be vigilantly cognizant of how many sides of this issue there are.

ways to support the parkland survivors in their quest for gun control

last weekend, i promised my facebook friends that i would take action to support the parkland students in their quest for gun control, rather than laying around crying about how devastatingly we’ve let down our children as that does not un-let them down. i also promised that i would share what i found. i’ve compiled it below.

action steps, in no particular order:

1) march

the parkland students are planning a march on washington, dc on saturday, march 24 (referred to as march for our lives) and are working with others across the nation to organize sister marches. their mission statement can be read on their website here: https://www.marchforourlives.com/mission-statement/

i looked up sister marches in seattle, wa; des moines, ia; chicago, il; and st. louis, mo since those marches are close to where pockets of my friend group reside. if you search “march for our lives [your town/big city near you]” on facebook, you should be able to find a march close to you.

2) donate

resources, also in no particular order:

1) the giffords law center to prevent gun violence is a “policy organization dedicated to researching, writing, enacting, and defending proven laws and programs, [that] is on a mission to save lives from gun violence by shifting culture, changing policies, and challenging injustice.” their website has a treasure trove of research about gun violence and solutions to it. their site rates each state’s gun control laws and suggests pertinent policy improvements.

2) the coalition to stop gun violence “seeks to secure freedom from gun violence through research, strategic engagement, and effective policy advocacy.” they create policy, take on the nra, and address disarming domestic abusers and preventing suicides.

3) other gun violence prevention organizations, for your further research:

4) other anti-violence organizations, for your further research:

(header image original image courtesy of elvert barnes on flickr)