Learn to Fight Systemic Racism By Reading This Ijeoma Oluo Piece

This OTYCD post originally appeared in March 2018.


Read Welcome to the Anti-Racism Movement–Here’s What You’ve Missed, an insightful piece by writer Ijeoma Oluo.


If you’re waking up to the injustices that Black Lives Matter is pointing out, and you want to do what you can to fight white supremacy and its effects, you will want to read this undated piece.


In summary:


Don’t expect to be coddled or celebrated for showing up to the fight now.


Do keep your eyes open and your mouth shut, at least until you get up to speed–same as you would when you arrive on any scene that’s been around far longer than you have.


If you have a question, google it first and see if it’s been answered. (It probably has.) Asking POC to educate you adds to their burden when they’re already grappling with the burden of fighting systemic racism.


Accept that you’ll put your foot in your mouth, early and often. Brace yourself for awkward moments and learn how to handle them with grace and calm.


Fighting white supremacy and systemic racism is painful, horrifying, crazy-making, and outrageously uncomfortable. But never forget that white folks have the privilege of facing this truth when they choose, and POC have to live with it 24/7/365.



Read Welcome to the Anti-Racism Movement–Here’s What You’ve Missed:



Like Ijeoma Oluo on Facebook:



Follow her on Twitter:



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Help Build and Strengthen Your Resistance Community So It Survives Life After Trump

This OTYCD entry originally posted in October 2017.


Help build and strengthen your resistance community so it survives life after Trump.


Trump will go, but you must not. The resistance infrastructure–the local and national groups that sprung up after Trump’s election–will take a hit when he’s gone. Without such a powerful villain in the White House, at least some people will drift away, and some of those who drift away will never be as politically involved again. That’s inevitable.


You need to do what you can, now, to build and strengthen the fabric of your favorite local resistance group to help it survive in the post-Trump era.


How do you do that? You need to help your group build a life outside politics. Barbeques, bowling leagues, coffee klatches, pub crawls, gaming nights, concerts, parties, you name it–you need to help your gem of a group develop as many facets as possible.


Robert Putnam, in his classic 2001 book Bowling Alone, recognized and examined the decline of social groups that used to hold communities together–clubs such as the Elks, the Lions, and the Rotary Club, as well as churches, parent-teacher associations, and the like. It’s worth a read even though it appeared before social media really took hold. He makes it clear that these groups increased civic engagement and that civic engagement has declined with their disappearance.


But here’s the larger point: You need to do whatever you can to help make your Indivisible group, or whatever you joined that was born after November 9, 2016, become the new Rotary Club, the new PTA, the new church. And that means expanding its scope beyond the merely functional and giving it a social aspect.


Let’s be dead clear–the social aspect of the group should never be allowed to eclipse the functional aspect of the group. But you absolutely, definitely need to develop that social aspect. It’s vital. Why? Right now the function of the group is to stop Trump. What happens to your group when Trump is stopped? What then?


Yeah. You’ll need the social stuff to hold the group together while you revise and revamp your post-Trump mission. And that social stuff has to be in place and well-established by the time Trump goes, or else your group could go with him. And that would suck, because we need as many of these local groups as we can sustain.


Consider this example. Merrick Garland should be on the Supreme Court right now. It’s complete and utter bullshit that he is not. Obama did what he could, but he’s just the president, and he could only do so much.


Now imagine what would have happened to Garland if the resistance infrastructure that we have now was in place when Mitch McConnell refused to hear out a SCOTUS nominee in the last year of a president’s term.


We could have bombarded our senators with emails, phone calls, and letters demanding that they give Garland the hearing he deserved. We could have kept it up, stop-Trumpcare style, until enough senators relented. And because it’s only reasonable that the senators at least hear him out, it probably would have happened. And if the senators had heard Garland, they would have realized he’s a good guy who deserves a SCOTUS seat, and he may well have gotten it. Because that’s really why McConnell pulled that garbage move–he knew if the senators heard Garland, as tradition prescribes, they’d probably end up approving him.


We need to have that resistance infrastructure up and running in case we have another Garland situation. [Note inserted in October 2018: Ahem.] We need to have teams upon teams of folks practiced in the art of calling their members of Congress and ready to do it on a second’s notice. We can’t risk letting it all rot and fall apart after Trump goes.


So, while the notion of Trump leaving office is still abstract and without a fixed date, you need to identify and shore up the columns that (metaphorically) hold up your group. If all of those columns have Trump’s name on them, start (metaphorically) mixing and pouring concrete to make some columns that don’t.


Now, you don’t know this, but we at OTYCD can sometimes read your mind. We can hear you thinking, ‘But I’m an introvert.’ We get it. So are we. We’re not asking you to host monthly catered dinner parties with china and sterling silver and linen napkins for 36. We’re asking you to think about what social stuff you’re willing to do on a regular basis, and commit.


That doesn’t mean you, personally, have to open your home or pay to hire a hall. It could well mean helping someone else in the group host a social event. That works. And if you do open your home, you can set limits and enforce them: “You must RSVP by X date and the maximum I can accommodate is 12.” Really, you can do that.


Think about what you can do. Then do it, with an eye toward serving the future of your group.


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Keep a Journal

This OTYCD entry originally posted in July 2017.


Keep a journal, for the sake of your future self.


When the Trump administration is over–and really, it will end–you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll forget what life was like. You’ll question whether things were that tense, or that intense. You will struggle to remember what it was like to have three to five bombshell news stories to break in one day and have that be normal. You will forget what it’s like to feel like you’re living in a Dom Delillo novel. (We had been living in a bad John LeCarré novel until a young woman named Reality Leigh Winner was arrested for leaking documents. That’s when we shifted to living in a Dom Delillo novel.)


Anyway. You’ll forget what life was like because, to some extent, you will want to, and you will need to. Living under Trump is goddamn exhausting. When it ends, you’ll need to reassign a whole mess of neurons just to give them a much-deserved rest (if you don’t, they might short out on you, so yes, please, do rest your battered brain when the time comes).


But once you’ve had a chance to heal, you’ll need to periodically remind yourself what living under Trump was like. That’s where your journal comes in. If you’re not already keeping one, please start. It can be on paper, or online. It can be public or private. But commit to writing a dated entry at least once a week.


And when you do, try to note just how weird and screwed up these times are. Be honest about what you’re seeing and feeling, and why. Name your emotions, and describe them in detail. Write exactly as much as you need to write and no more, whether it’s two sentences or two chapters’ worth of observations. Refine it if you must, but it’s best if you just disgorge your thoughts and let them stand, and keep doing it, consistently.


Writing this journal will help your future self remember what this time was like, and it will revive your passion to resist when we no longer feel the need to capitalize the first letter of that word.


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Find Out Which Organizations Are Handling the Grab-and-Go Lunch Program at Your Local Public Schools, and Donate to Them

Re-running this post, which first appeared in March 2020, because COVID-19 lockdowns are still A Thing, and many of these programs have transitioned to a reduced summer schedule. For too many kids, programs such as these are their only reliable source of food when school is closed. 


Find out which organizations are handling the grab-and-go lunch program at your local public schools, and give them money.


The spread of Covid-19 is pitilessly exposing all the frayed links in our social safety net. One obstacle to shutting down public school systems is the fact that for a significant minority of children, their only reliable source of meals is their school cafeteria.


Grab-and-go lunch programs have sparked into being to serve this need by opening the school daily only to those who need meals.


We’re asking you to call around, find out which organizations are responsible for running the grab-and-go programs, and donate to their efforts.


If you have a kid in school, try emailing the school’s administrative office or asking about it on your school’s Facebook page.


Alternately, you could try calling your local school department, or your local food bank. They’ll probably know the answer or know who else you can check with.


Another thing to think about for the near future is supporting school-based feeding programs during the summer. We wrote about this before, and deadlines for food donations and for offering a specific venue as a feeding site start arriving this month and next.


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Believe It: You Matter, Part XXII; Don’t Go to Sleep

Believe It: You Matter, Part Now; Don’t Go to Sleep.


Sarah Jane here. I write all the Believe It: You Matter entries. I can’t remember what Roman numeral we’re on, so I made one up.


I’m drafting this in late June 2020, probably to go live in July. It looks like all of Trump’s faults are finally teaming up to destroy his chance of being re-elected.


Dedicated readers of OTYCD know better than to assume anything. But I have allowed myself half an ounce of hope while sticking rigidly to my efforts to force this feral clown from office.


I feel the need, hell, the urge, to say this now:


If we all succeed, and Joe Biden becomes president, do not go to sleep.


Yes, celebrate. Yes, get some rest. But don’t go to sleep.


Now I can almost hear you saying: “Go to sleep? GO TO SLEEP? WTF, Sarah Jane? I’ve been an insomniac, on and off, since this asshole got elected. I’m not going to sleep! Fuck you for suggesting it.”


OK, fair enough. But let me explain what I mean.


I was a grown woman when Bush the Younger was president. I voted in both those elections, for Gore and then for Kerry.


The W years were fucking exhausting, and, fwiw, they foreshadowed the Trump years, if you ask me. (I am So Not On Board with the weird nostalgia some liberal/left/Dem/resistance folks have expressed for W. No, just, no. But that’s another topic for another day.)


So after eight years of serious and scary norm-breaking, and 9/11 and the laws that were passed in its wake, and banks running amuck and tanking the economy, and STARTING TWO FUCKING WARS, we get Barack Obama. And we keep him for a full eight years.


And too many of us went to sleep during the Obama years. Now, I mean that metaphorically, and I count myself among those who went to sleep. I am just as guilty as the rest of you.


What I mean when I say that I went to sleep is that I kept on top of the news, I watched Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show regularly, and I voted in presidential elections.


I thought I was pretty plugged in, and pretty responsible as a citizen. But I now know I wasn’t doing nearly enough to hold up my end, from a civics standpoint.


When I tell you, “Don’t go to sleep,” I mean don’t forget the lessons you all learned from the Trump years.


Trump will go, but you must not.


“Not going” means continuing the activism you began during the Trump years, and continuing to vote in EVERY ELECTION that affects your community, which means VOTE IN ALL OF THEM, EVERY TIME, WITHOUT FAIL, NO MATTER HOW SMALL AND INCONSEQUENTIAL THEY SEEM, DAMMIT.


I don’t expect or demand that you be as active post-Trump as you’ve been during the Trump years, though that would be great.


I want to be realistic, though. Trump has been fucking exhausting, more so than W ever was, and he’s been so on purpose. Exhausting you with forty gazillion Dumpster fires is part of his strategy, and it’s straight out of the authoritarian’s playbook.


We’re going to be unpacking his evil deeds for decades. His administration is a political version of the TV show Hoarders–so much awful shit that needs to be gone through and dealt with, with so many unfathomable horrors lurking within the stacks, and it seems like there’ll be no end to it.


When Trump goes well and properly, you will feel the need to rest. And hey, you will need some rest. Please plan on getting some.


But with Joe Biden in office–smiley, familiar, good-natured, decent Joe Biden–you’ll be tempted to up and quit your activism, because everything won’t be on fire anymore, and Biden won’t be running around saucing the fires with gasoline, like Trump did.


Rest, but come back. It’s important.


Here’s the thing, y’all–we fucked over President Barack Obama. We did.


When he got in, after eight exhausting years of W and his fuckery, we collapsed in a heap and went to sleep. Metaphorically speaking.


And we slept like Sleeping Beauty. We slept like we were meant to stay asleep until someone gently and lovingly brought us back to civic consciousness.


We can’t afford to do that. We couldn’t afford to do that under President Obama, and we can never afford to do that again, ever.


Because we slept, the Republicans, who are fewer and angrier and have more money, did their damndest to disfigure and warp things in their party’s favor.


They did this in many ways, on many fronts, but mainly by getting their people elected up and down the ballot in non-presidential years.


They took control of state legislatures and governorships. They used that power to gerrymander and purge voters from the rolls and prevent Obama’s judicial nominees from being accepted, by the dozens. They put their collective thumbs on the scale for themselves and their party.


They did this in the open, it just didn’t get screaming headline coverage.


Once they’re in the minority again, they will go back to that playbook.


They are relentless. They are craven. They cannot be shamed. They will do it even though they maneuvered the most corrupt, venal, incompetent, and thoroughly reputation-damaging person into the office of the presidency, and they stayed silent as his sins and outrages piled up.


The damning legacy of the 46th President of the United States will not stop those same Republicans from squawking 24/7 on Twitter and Fox News about the mote in Joe Biden’s eye when they resolutely refused to remove the beam from Trump’s.


They’ve had years’ worth of chances to check and balance Trump, including a Senate trial that could have ended in removal.


They had ample time to do what the Founders assumed elected officials would do when faced with a president like Trump.


Instead, they cowered. They ducked. They bobbed and weaved. They sputtered. They muttered. They stayed silent when faced with perversions of law and bold flouting of the principles of the Constitution, no matter how absurd and grotesque they got.


The few who spoke up in defense of Trump were invariably the loudest and most loathsome fringe elements of the GOP, and their defenses ranged from laughable to downright offensive.


Congressional Republicans violated their oaths of office to keep Trump in his.


And when Biden is in office, those same Republicans will act like he’s worse than Trump could ever be. Instantly. Before Biden is inaugurated. Hell, they’ll start doing it in the twilight time between polls closing on Election Day and news organizations formally calling it.


Do not go to sleep. Do not.


Do not fuck over Biden the way we fucked over Obama.


Rest, but come back, and carry on doing what you were doing in the Trump years–just do it on defense, instead of offense this time.


Between now and Tuesday, November 3, 2020, I want you to sit down and work out what you will do–how you will maintain your activism–after Trump is gone.


If he’s re-elected, well, there’s your answer. You keep doing what you’ve been doing, at the rate and the intensity that you’ve been doing it.


If he isn’t, you need to plot some explicit vacation time from activism (you might want to wait until some point in 2021, because if Trump gets booted, he and his minions WILL indulge in rank and flamboyant sabotage during the transition, because that’s just who they are).


You need to choose specific dates for a vacation from activism–an explicit start and end, just as you would when planning a vacation from a job. And your vacation time should be about as long as a vacation you’d take from your main job.


Then figure out what level of activism you want to maintain.


You may not want to carry on as intensely and as all-consumingly as you will in the lead-up to the 2020 Election. That’s perfectly OK.


But you do need to pursue some level of activism post-Trump, and you need to point your brain at the question of what, and when, and how much.


No matter what happens, and no matter how you choose to proceed, you’ve got to stay here and carry on the fight.


No more Merrick Garlands, people. No more. Stay alert and alive.


Come to Joe Biden’s aid early and often and with fierce purpose.


Do. Not. Go. To. Sleep.


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TODAY is the FEC Q2 Deadline. Please Give to Your Favorite Presidential, Senate, and House Candidates Before Midnight

Important! Please donate to your favorite Presidential, House, and Senate candidates before midnight on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Your money is extra-magical today.


Quarterly donation hauls matter to candidates–not just Presidential candidates, but House and Senate candidates, too.


Big donors look at the quarterly numbers and weigh them carefully when considering which candidates to support with their own dollars.


If you need to budget strategically, it’s best to aim to give toward the end of the fiscal quarters.


If you’re already giving monthly and have some to spare, aim to give before midnight on Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Your money is extra-magical then.


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Donate To These Bail Funds Across America

This OTYCD entry originally appeared in January 2018.


Donate to these bail funds across America and help poor people gain release from jail to await trial at home.


Being poor is not a crime, but all too often, it seems that way. The justice system can, and too often does, impose bail requirements on arrestees who have no hope of raising the money. They languish in jail, risking their jobs, homes, and families, and taking a space that’s better set aside for a more dangerous individual.


Bail funds help the poor by lending or giving them the money they need to gain their release. A few months back, OTYCD wrote about the Massachusetts Bail Fund, which was swamped with bail requests and almost had to close as a result:



Fortunately, enough donors stepped up to resolve the crisis and place the fund on firmer footing.


On November 28, 2017, Clint Smith III, an author and Harvard Ph.d candidate, tweeted a thread of links to bail funds across the country.


We have collected the information that he tweeted and have reproduced it here. Full credit goes to Smith, who you should follow (@ClintSmithIII).


Giving to bail funds helps poor people from sliding even further into poverty. Your donation allows adults in dire straits to continue to go to work and tend to their families while they wait for their cases to proceed through the justice system.



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The Bronx Freedom Fund






The Brooklyn Community Bail Fund






The Chicago Community Bond Fund






Just City Memphis (located in Tennessee)






Louisville Community Bail Fund (located in Kentucky; this is a YouCaring page)




The Massachusetts Bail Fund






The Minnesota Freedom Fund





Northwest Community Bail Fund (located in Seattle)






The Philadelphia Community Bail Fund





The Richmond Community Bail Fund (located in Virginia)






You can also support bail funds that specifically help immigrants and migrants.


The Immigrant Bail Fund (which serves individuals in Connecticut)





Immigrant Family Defense Fund (which serves individuals in California)





Here also is a December 30, 2017 blog post from Prison Culture (@prisonculture) which lists still more bail funds (scroll down for others not listed above):

It’s National #FreeThePeopleDay on New Year’s Eve…


Read, Memorize, and Act on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s 10 Ways to Fight Hate

This OTYCD entry originally posted in August 2017.


Read, memorize, and act on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s piece, 10 Ways to Fight Hate.


Posted after the events of Charlottesville, the SPLC piece gives you ten things you can do to resist the cultural changes that neo-Nazis and white supremacists are trying to create with the passive, if not sometimes active, help of Trump and his administration.


The full list is:


Join Forces

Support the Victims

Speak Up

Educate Yourself

Create an Alternative

Pressure Leaders

Stay Engaged

Teach Acceptance

Dig Deeper


The most important thing is to act–to do something, to not sit mute in the face of hate. The SPLC put “act” first on the list for a reason. Silence reads as compliance and even approval to those who want to advance hate and intolerance. You have to say or do something when it shows its face to you.


If you are white, it is double-super-extra-mega-important for you to act. People of color and minorities have been carrying the burden of pushing back for too long. It is on white people to wield their privilege like a weapon for dismantling this corrosive bullshit.


You cannot stand by and assume someone else will pick up the slack. It is on you to do something. It is always on you to do something. Always. 


Know also that the Nazis did not stop until they were stop. Remember appeasement? Think of how we remember Neville Chamberlain? Yeah, don’t be Neville Chamberlain. You lose now AND you lose later.


The only way you win when dealing with Nazis, fascists, and those who would carry their banners is to stop them right away. Give them no quarter and no comfort. Shut them down, just like the people of Boston shut down the so-called Free Speech Rally on August 19, when at least 20,000 anti-racist protestors showed up to find 20 neo-Nazis, fascists, and white supremacists.


Read the SPLC’s Ten Ways to Fight Hate: A Community Response Guide:



Donate to the SPLC:



Like its Facebook page:



Follow the SPLC on Twitter:



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Give Blood to Fight the Summer Slowdown in Donations

This OTYCD post originally appeared in July 2018. Combine expected summer slowdowns in blood donation with the havoc that COVID-19 has wreaked on blood donation drives, and things are generally dire (some areas are suffering more than others). Please give if you can. 


Please donate blood before and during the summer months, a time when donations tend to fall off sharply.


The Red Cross always needs donations of blood and platelets, but things get worse in the summer months, when schedules are disrupted by vacations and blood drives at high schools and colleges are not an option.


If you are a regular donor, please plan vacations with your donation schedule in mind, and try to recruit a friend or two to come and donate with you during the summer.


If it’s been a while since you gave, think about how and when to work a blood drive into your summer plans.


If you have never donated, find out if you are eligible, and consider whether it is something you feel you can do.



Find the Red Cross blood drive happening closest to you:




Read about how blood and platelet donations tend to drop severely–losing as many as 100,000–during the summer:




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Let Jane Elliott Open Your Eyes About Racism in America

This OTYCD post originally ran in January 2019.


Let Jane Elliott open your eyes about racism in America.


Elliott became an activist after Martin Luther King Jr., was assassinated in 1968. Shocked by the racist reactions she heard about King’s death, the elementary-school teacher designed an exercise for her young, white students in small-town Iowa that would show them what racism felt like.


She dubbed it the “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Exercise.” On day one, she showed blatant favoritism to the blue-eyed kids, giving them extra helpings at lunchtime and five extra minutes of recess. She treated the brown-eyed kids as African-Americans were treated then, forcing them to sit at the back of the class and barring them from using the same water fountain that the blue-eyed kids did. She spouted ridiculous arguments about blue-eyed superiority, and antagonized brown-eyed kids who complained about their treatment. Some blue-eyed kids became bossy and nasty to their brown-eyed peers.


The experiment seemed to affect how well the two groups did on tests and schoolwork. The “superior” kids did better and felt confident enough to attempt harder work. The “inferior” kids withdrew and did less well in class.


The next day, the two groups changed places. Then Elliott asked the kids to write about how the experiment made them feel.


Word got out about the Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes experiment. It led to an appearance on The Tonight Show, two books, and a 1970 ABC documentary, The Eye of the Storm, which spread the word further. Demand for lectures and diversity training workshops became so strong that Elliott left her public school career in the mid-1980s.


It should be said that academic analyses of the effects of Elliott’s experiment are mixed. It seems to show moderate success in reducing bigotry long-term, but it might not be enough to justify the trauma the experiment could inflict on its participants. (Elliott caught flak for doing the experiment with eight-year-olds rather than trying it on teenagers or adults.)


Regardless of whether the Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes experiment succeeds in making white people less racist, Elliott’s lectures can help you understand white privilege and push back against it.



See Jane Elliott’s homepage:




See her recommended bibliography, which is a good place to get started with learning about white privilege and its effects. The list also includes titles that cover sexism, homophobia, ageism, anti-Semitism, and bigotry in general:




See her Lectures page to learn what programs she’s offering currently:




Like her Facebook page:




Visit her online store to buy documentaries that feature her work, plus the top she often wears when lecturing, in t-shirt and sweatshirt versions:




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