Misery may love company, but activism adores it! And the thing is, the more I practice everyday acts of kindness and political action, the more optimistic I feel. In February, I (mostly) succeeded in my resolution to do good every day, and I came away with this as my main takeaway: We can do even more good, develop relationships that build community and get out of our Facebook bubble when taking action with others.
A post was recently circulating on Facebook that said, basically—and I’m summarizing here—that President Trump really is making America great again. After all, community involvement and participation is the highest I’ve ever seen, citizens are educated and vocal about our government, and nonprofits are receiving record support. What’s more, it’s not only grown-ups standing up for justice. Family activism seems to be growing, too.
My girls are definitely accompanying me on my journey becoming a more active and outspoken citizen. So it felt natural to make protest signs with my kids.
As the high school gym filled with people, the room got noisier and noisier: people chatting, the squeak of metal as folks shifted in folding chairs, iPhone alerts, a kid laughing as she climbed the bleachers. Then another sound rose above the rest: People singing. From all over the gym, others joined in. Within moments, the nearly 2,000 people who had gathered for this town hall meeting were singing “This Land is Your Land.”
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest, to the Gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me
I have no idea who started singing—it wasn’t a staffer from Senator Ron Wyden‘s office, I’m pretty sure. Rather, the inspiration seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere at once. I hadn’t thought of this song since I was a kid, and I’m actually surprised I remembered the words.
But maybe I remember them because deep down, this song represents something fundamental about America. The country is made up of diversity—both in its land and geography as well as its people. And as this Woody Guthrie classic makes clear, America includes us all.
This week, my kids and I pulled on rain gear and headed into Portland at my kids’ witching hour. I ignored my better judgment that it was a terrible idea to go into public during the time when they’re usually screaming at the table because they want each other’s forks. The cause for throwing my caution to the wind: a candlelight vigil demonstrating our support for refugees.
I’m horrified that our federal government is upending this country’s foundational principle of welcoming people from overseas. Yet while an inclusive message is literally chiseled into our country’s most iconic symbol, America also has a long history of excluding people those in power deem to be too “other.”
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
My heart breaks for those who have been affected by President Trump’s immigration and refugee ban. I also fear for those who have already made it to the U.S., because despite living through harrowing circumstances to get here, they face an uncertain future—again.
So with these “tempest-tossed” individuals and families in mind, I pushed aside my comparatively minor anxieties around rain and low blood sugar-induced tantrums. My girls and I showed up at the vigil to demonstrate to everyone that we, too, say, “Refugees welcome here.”
Today more than ever, we need to raise our kids to be world-changers. For us, that means we are committing to take kids to a protest, even if it’s not always convenient. That also means we’re raising our girls to be nasty women—a title I wear with pride.
The night before I took Peeper and Kiwi to their first demonstration, I didn’t know what to expect. But I wanted to prepare, so I asked some friends and activist parents I know how to take kids to a protest.
I followed their advice, and I’m happy to report our family activism went great! Both Peeper and Kiwi did great at the protest, and I put into action all the wonderful tips I got.
Now is the perfect time to learn more about how to take kids to a protest. After all, there are a ton of marches and demonstrations nationwide that match up with the inauguration of President-Elect Donald Trump. (You don’t have to go to Washington, D.C. for the big march; here’s an article to find an inauguration protest near you.)
If you’re bringing your kids, here’s how to ensure your mini activists stay safe and happy.