100 Acts of Resistance: February Resistance Report
The first two months of my project 100 Acts of Resistance have gone by with some surprising results. First, I learned more about my own values than I thought I would. With so much happening in politics and social justice, it was tricky to know where to invest my energy. While I am passionate about education, I found myself picking up the phone and calling my elected officials more often when it came to the environment. Immigrant and refugee rights are also very important to me, but I chose to donate financially to women and children this month.
I also discovered that my favorite way to resist was through giving. While lawmakers push to restrict programs that benefit the vulnerable, it feels rewarding to directly counteract that in my own small way. There is much work to be done on a larger scale, but when I give directly to a person or organization, I know that today at least one person won’t go hungry or a child will have shoes on their feet.
Lastly, I found myself struggling with how far to go. As a journalist, I have been trained to be neutral in my reporting. But, I wondered whether by disclosing my project and thereby my positions and values, I was betraying this basic journalistic tenet. Then I realized that by shedding sunlight on the issues closest to me, I was being transparent. I looked to journalists like Rachel Maddow, Sheppard Smith, Dan Rather, and of course my own colleagues in the Latino media space, and see that we all have a certain perspective. And, once we know what that perspective is, I’d argue it’s our duty to make that plain.
Needless to say, it’s been an eye-opening experience. In January, I performed six of my 100 acts of resistance. Here are the ways I resisted in February 2017.
- I donated to Planned Parenthood.
It wasn’t a lot, but it was something. This little something went to help ensure women have greater power over their lives and get the medical care they need. I also strongly believe that because they help women stay healthy and autonomous, they contribute to a better, stronger and more equal society.
- I read and learned from opposing sources.
I am an avid newsreader and have my favorite outlets. But, I know that if I want to truly empathize and understand the perspective of those on the other side, I needed to read what they read. I started with the National Journal, and at first it was tough. Upon reading some of the op-eds that directly conflicted with my values, I felt defensive and eager to find flaws in the reporting. That said, after some time, I found stories that shed light into the conservative perspective in a way I could appreciate. I’m not going to agree, but as I keep looking for commonalities in our beliefs and thinking, I’ll keep reading.
- I called my elected representatives.
Just about every day, I’ve read about DREAMERs, DACA recipients and nonviolent and otherwise law abiding undocumented people being arrested and detained by ICE. This has included small business owners, students, parents and those who had no idea they were undocumented. I believe that these residents contribute to the country far more than they take. I called Gov. Abbott’s office to ensure that he knew that many Texans, including this one, want our state to protect those immigrants who make America great.
- And called.
My call fell on deaf ears, but I called. As an informed citizen, it was my right to tell my elected officials that approving Scott Pruitt, who had filed some 14 lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency and worked to stop polices climate change, to now lead the EPA was the wrong choice for the country and for Texas. In the end, Pruitt was confirmed, but I made my position clear.
- And called.
Called the Stopping EPA Overreach Act of 2017, it’s a sweeping bill that redefines what we consider clean air and what companies are allowed to pump into it. “This bill amends the Clean Air Act to exclude carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride pollution from the scope of that Act. The bill declares that current law does not authorize or require the regulation of climate change or global warming and nullifies certain final rules … “ The bill is currently in committee, but there is little that stands in its way to becoming law.
- My son and I donated to a food pantry.
My 7-year-old has very little understanding of food insecurity. (He’s very, very lucky.) But, it’s important that he know what it is, that people deal with this issue, and that because he is lucky, it is his moral obligation to help. His school provided a wonderful opportunity to do just that. As part of a school-wide service project, students were invited to give. We gathered cans and non-perishables and he was happy to deliver them to the donation box. It was a small thing, but I hope it plants a seed in my child to become more giving and to resist the urge to live only for himself.
- I made sure some children had shoes for school.
This month, I stumbled upon an organization called Zapatos, Inc. that provides very gently used children’s shoes to boys and girls in need in San Antonio. Shoes are fundamental, the organization says, yet can be expensive for families in financial crisis or need. I am grateful that a few pairs of shoes that my son wore only briefly may have ended up as a blessing for children at the San Antonio Battered Women’s Shelter or Haven for Hope.
- I helped ensure children got a shame-free hot lunch.
Like many elementary schools, my son’s has a “cheese sandwich” lunch policy. After a child owes more than a certain amount in their lunch account, they are provided plain cheese sandwich instead of the hot lunch served that day. As you can imagine, receiving a cheese sandwich instead of the lunch the other children are getting in the lunch line can be embarrassing and shaming. To help prevent any child from feeling humiliated and walking away hungry, a kind neighbor started a fund at the school. As soon as I learned of it, I was eager to contribute. No child should have to see their peers eating a nice meal and go without. When a child is healthy and fed, they can focus on learning and becoming successful people. When that happens, we all win.
- I helped send girls to the prom.
It shouldn’t be the case, but all too often, underprivileged young people miss out on quintessential teenage experiences. After-school activities, sports and dances are simply not in the budget. And, high-cost experiences like the prom? Forget it. This month, I was happy to discover a small service project that donated gowns, shoes, accessories and cosmetics to girls in Title I schools who would otherwise not be able to attend their school’s event. While I didn’t have a gown or shoes, I definitely had some goodies that could help the girls feel beautiful. After editing a women’s magazine for years and now this blog, I’ve amassed an enviable stash of cosmetics, skincare, hair care and other beauty goodies. It was a blessing to see a good chunk of it go help make it a night to remember.
If you are determined to make a positive impact on your community and world, please share what you are doing. Hopefully, we can all support each other.