A Midsummer Nightmare (And How to Stop It)

Dear Reader,

I hope you have been well. It sometimes feels hard to be well, given the dark days we are living in…

When I wrote my “Why Veganism?” part 1, I fully expected to write a few more parts in quick succession from that. And then, on May 25, 2020, George Floyd was killed. It felt like life stopped for a while. COVID-19 had already ground things down to a halt, and had already filled me with anxiety, and then, now this. Again. I felt like I needed to take quite a bit of time off of regular posting on social media. I’d been posting regular vegan meal tutorials on my Facebook and posting lots of stories on Instagram, too. But to talk about food when lives were at stake felt in poor taste.

As the protests continue in large cities, I wish I could do more. What’s going on in Portland right now in particular feels like a nightmare–it feels too horrible to be true, that people are being kidnapped off the streets by armed officials in unmarked vans.

But here’s what I can do, and what I encourage all my readers to do–even if you’ve never “gotten involved” in politics before. The time to stay silent is gone. The time to speak up is now.

Register to Vote

If you’re not registered to vote yet, see if you can still register in your state. In Michigan, you can register to vote up until Election Day, but don’t wait that long. Register now. Our primary is August 4th, and our general election is November 3rd. (That’s 107 days from now.) You can also elect to permanently vote absentee. For people who work crazy shifts or travel a lot, this is a great way to make sure you can participate even if you’re out of town or working a crazy shift.

You only have one vote. But you can make it count, with some added effort.

Engage Friends

Hands down, the best way to get other people engaged in politics is to remind them what they can do. (Like I’m doing here ;)). Relational connections are always more effective than political advertisements in the mail, on the television, or cold-calling on the phone. It’s as simple as this.

Hi, if you’re new here, my name is Camille. I’m a granddaughter of immigrants, and I support making our immigration process efficient and swift. I don’t support many limitations on immigration because I have always known that diversity makes a community stronger. Homogeneity is boring. Bring on the culture! I’m also a woman, and I support women’s rights: rights to healthcare (including contraception, abortions, and menstrual products), rights to employment and equal pay for equal work, and rights to safe homes and work places. And, I hope it goes without say, I support women’s rights NOT to be grabbed by the pussy, unless it’s consensual. Although I’m in a female-male relationship, I don’t identify as straight, and I care deeply about the rights of my LGBTQIAP+ brothers and sisters. I support equal rights for all sexual minorities; that means marriage, the right to adopt and bear children, the right to safe public spaces, and the right to employment. And taking it one step farther, I believe these rights also apply to polyamorous relationships. I am white, but I strive to be an anti-racist ally. I am learning; I am listening. (More on what tools I’m using to learn below.)

If any of the issues that I mentioned above resonate with you, I urge you to make sure you’re communicating what matters to you to your state Senators and Representative, as well as your federal Senators and Representative. (Don’t know who they are? Find out!)

Sign and share petitions about issues that matter to you. When you share, your friends are more likely to sign, more likely to donate, and more likely to make a call to their representatives. Want the cops who shot and killed Breonna Taylor in her home to be held accountable? Sign and share the petition, and call your representatives. Want to end qualified immunity? Sign and share the petition, and call your representatives. Want to end prison labor? You guessed it… sign the petition, share, and call. And for this one, don’t stop there: research companies that actually use prison labor, and adjust your spending accordingly.

Want To Do More?

Since 2020 is an election year, there are TONS of opportunities for getting involved. And, since everything is all online this year, it’s kind of easier to fit things into your schedule. No travelling across town, fighting traffic, to attend a meeting… stay in your sweats and launch Zoom!

I myself am involved with the Michigan One Campaign. I volunteer for two phone banking shifts a week–more if I’m able. Tuesdays and Thursdays are usually good days for me, and if I’m not able to volunteer both days, I take a double shift whichever day I am able to volunteer. I started volunteering on June 9th, and since then I’ve made 650 calls. My average response out of 50 calls is 2-4 people willing to talk to me. Usually one person a week will commit to volunteering from home, which makes my efforts that much more effective.

It takes about an hour of my time to make 50 calls. Don’t think you have time? An hour is about how long most washers or dryers take to complete a cycle. Commit to calling on laundry day! Baking banana bread? The average bake time is usually 55-65 minutes. Call while the bread is in the oven.

My boyfriend asked me yesterday if I think phone banking is effective. For me, it’s hard to say. It depends a little bit on what the goal is. If the goal is to persuade, I doubt it’s very effective. If the goal is to engage, I think there’s a huge benefit to a stranger calling you and reminding you to turn in a ballot or reminding you to complete a form. It’s a layer of accountability. And it’s encouraging to know that there are strangers out there who care about the same issues that matter to you. If the goal is to educate, I think phone banking is effective. One of the questions I ask is if my voter supports the re-election of our U. S. Senator, Gary Peters. A lot of people kind of fumble over that question because hey don’t know who Senator Peters is or what he stands for. That’s a great opportunity for me to tell them what he’s championed over the last six years: the conservation of the Great Lakes, healthcare, and (especially recently) the rights of essential workers.

Please please please please fill out the contact me form on my page if you’d like to get involved as a volunteer!

Tools for Learning

Finally, I want to end with tools for self-education about racism in particular, because it’s more important than ever right now. There are thankfully a ton of resources available online. Here are a few that I’ve found helpful.

Emma Watson’s Our Shared Podcast Anti-Racism Playlist (link)
Yale’s American History: From Emancipation to the Present (link)
Anti-Racist books (list by Ibram X. Kendi)
More race, equity, and anti-racism books and resources, by We Need Diverse Books (link)
Movies that confront racism (link)

One thing that’s important to keep in mind, too: read and listen to and delve into what speaks to you. Don’t just read How To Be an Anti-Racist because it’s book of the year or whatever. Read and engage with content that you will enjoy, but that challenges you.

A great way to do this in general is just reading diverse books. If all the main characters in the books and TV shows and movies that you watch look like you, you’re missing out on a wide variety of perspectives, experiences, lessons, and worldviews. The novel I’m reading right now is about a gay Mexican-American boy. I didn’t pick it up because it was about a gay Mexican-American boy; I picked it up because I knew it would take me to places I’ve never been. Read like that if that’s what feels authentic to you. Reading a lot of different kinds of books will increase your diversity quotient without your even realizing it.

I will return to blogging about veganism later, but I wanted to share from my heart about what’s been going on in our country and what helps me power through days and weeks of bad, sad, tragic news. I hope this helps you out. Leave me a comment below if this helped your day.

Best,

Camille

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