Read About the History (Yes, History) of Accusing Protestors of Being What Some Now Call “Crisis Actors”

This OTYCD post originally appeared in February 2018.


Read a February 2018 New York Times piece on the history–yes, the history–of accusing protestors and activists of being what some people now call “crisis actors.”


A particularly gross, but damnably inevitable, aspect of the aftermath of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School in Parkland, Florida, was the claim by some that the eloquent young survivors were “crisis actors.”


Their accusers weren’t talking about actual crisis actors, who are people hired to play victims and survivors during realistic disaster drills. They were implying that the MSD students, who emerged from their trauma as pissed-off gun safety activists, were paid by some shadowy cabal that’s bent on destroying the Second Amendment.


Here’s the thing–while the term has changed, the concept behind the “crisis actor” has not. In a February 2018 piece for the New York Times, writer Niraj Chokshi shows it goes as least as far back as the years following the Civil War. Back then, black “outside agitators” were blamed for allegedly exaggerating their testimonies of the violence and discrimination they suffered, both from the Ku Klux Klan and in general.


In the 20th century, the nine children who bravely volunteered to integrate the public schools in Little Rock, Arkansas, were accused of being paid for their trouble.


The piece does not discuss why some people are so determined to push the myth that people who step up and do and say difficult things have to be getting paid to do it. (That would be an interesting and worthy follow-up.) Regardless, it’s worth your time.



Read the New York Times piece on the history of the “crisis actor” accusation:



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Find Out If Your State Has Abortion Trigger Laws and Make Sure They’re Pro-Choice

This OTYCD entry originally posted in July 2017.


Does your state have abortion trigger laws–laws that instantly go into effect if Roe vs Wade is overturned? Find out, and urge your state legislators to pass pro-choice laws if need be. 


Trump and the Republicans are hell-bent on overturning Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court (SCOTUS) decision that ensured that women will have safe, reliable access to abortion on demand. Trump announced his intention to appoint anti-choice SCOTUS judges and, well, just look at the nonsense that so many Republicans have pursued lately on this front.


If Roe vs Wade is overturned, the power to regulate abortion access goes back to the states. It makes eminent sense, then, to see what laws your state has on its books. Many have put so-called ‘trigger laws’ in place–laws that will ban legal abortion instantly should Roe vs Wade disappear.


Is your state one of them?


First, you should learn how accessible abortion services are in your state right now. NARAL Pro-choice America has created an interactive map that will show you (scroll down a bit to find the map).



Mouse over your state to see if it offers strongly restricted access (red); restricted access (pinkish); some access (purple-pink); protected access (purple); or strongly protected access (blue).


Once you have learned how things are now, go to the link below, find your local chapter of NARAL, ask whether your state has anti-choice trigger laws on the books, and ask what you can do to get them overturned.



You can also use a nifty tool created by the Our States web site that shows you at a glance whether your state is considering anti-choice legislation right now. Click the link below and click on ‘Reproductive Justice’:



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Learn About Abortion Laws In Your State, Your Country, and The World, Thanks to the Center for Reproductive Rights

Learn about abortion laws in your state, your country, and the world at large, thanks to the Center for Reproductive Rights.


We at OTYCD don’t need to tell you that access to abortion is under attack across America. It’s still legal, but anti-abortion lawmakers are, and have been, doing their level best to make it as inconvenient and expensive as possible, both for health care providers and for their patients.


The Center for Reproductive Rights, a 26-year-old global advocacy nonprofit based in New York City, has compiled a State of the States 2017 report that surveys abortion laws across the country.


Download the report through the link below, and also see which states attempted to pass bans on abortions at and after 20 weeks’ gestation, and which states tried to ban the dilation and evacuation (D&E) surgical procedure:




The CPR also produces and updates a map of abortion laws across the world. See the 2018 world map here (it relies on Adobe Flash):




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Believe It, You Matter, Part IX: Yes, It’s Exhausting. Get Rest and Come Back.

This OTYCD post originally appeared in August 2018.


Believe It, You Matter, Part IX: Yes, it’s exhausting. All of it. Everything. Get rest and come back.


Sarah Jane here. I write all the Believe It, You Matter entries on OTYCD.


Let me tell you–there are times when I just can’t even with this fucking administration. Really.


I could only listen once to the ProPublica secret recording of the small children who had been separated from their mothers. I needed hours to put myself together after hearing the little girl who repeated that phone number, and I needed those hours because I would have been that kid in that situation, repeating those numbers like a magical spell of protection, over and over, until the spell worked.


I’ve had to detach myself from the news for days on end for the sake of my own mental health. I’ve had to do that more frequently of late.


It’s not just you.


Too much is going on.


The Trump administration is a container ship full of Dumpsters, all of which are on fire. But that container ship full of flaming Dumpsters is itself on a container ship that’s designed to deliver container ships, and every last one of those container ships are full of flaming Dumpsters. It’s Dumpster fires all the way down.


Superman would be hard-pressed to fix all this shit. Superman would be hard-pressed to simply keep track of all this shit as it happens.


Superman doesn’t exist. You do, though, and so do countless millions who have been resisting this administration since the morning after the election.


In a post OTYCD first published in March 2017, we included a link to a TEDx talk about the tipping point for an effective resistance movement. If 3.5 percent of the population are on board, the movement can succeed.


To update the figures given before: America’s population is just shy of 327 million. 3.5 percent of not-quite-327 million is 11.4 million.


Oh, we got that. We can muster at least 11.4 million resisters. As that March 2017 OTYCD post notes, between 3.3 million and 4.6 million Americans came to the 2017 Women’s March, held a day after Trump’s inauguration. Since then, he’s only continued to turn people off and lose them completely.


But to get that, we have to have each others’ backs, and we have to take periodic rest breaks. Self-care is crucial. Authoritarian regimes aim to tire out their populations with onslaught after onslaught until they give up and give in.


We can’t afford to do that. We can sustain a long fight. But we need to be smart and careful with our resources and ourselves.


Have you seen any BBC nature documentaries? Not long ago they did a great one that included penguins, and in particular, had a segment on how Emperor penguins help each other survive the Antarctic winter [scroll down to see the time-lapse video.]


The Emperor penguins huddle as a huge group, and the group constantly rotates so no penguin is on the blessedly warm inside forever, and no penguin is on the desperately cold outside forever.


We need to do this for each other.


No competition. No judgment. No whining. Just helping each other and taking turns facing the cold and enjoying the warmth we need to prepare to face the cold again.


Hang in there. Be gentle with yourself. Get rest. But come back, always come back. You’ve got to stay here and carry on the fight.


Support, and Learn From, Repairers of the Breach

This post originally appeared on OTYCD in September 2018. We’re reposting it because OMG Rev. Dr. Barber won a 2018 MacArthur Genius Grant! Congratulations to him and all at Repairers of the Breach.


Support, and learn from, Repairers of the Breach, a nonprofit ecumenical organization that has had great success with pushing back against ultra-conservatism and its ill effects.


Repairers of the Breach is a North Carolina-based organization helmed by the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church, Disciples of Christ. Under his leadership it created the Moral Monday protests in 2013, weekly actions at the North Carolina state legislature that drew attention to a new social justice issue each week.


Repairers of the Breach and its leader, Rev. Barber, is building a contemporary version of the movement that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led five decades ago. It targets the ills of racism, poverty, and extreme militarism with a clear, progressive moral vision.


The ideas and the passion of Barber and the Repairers of the Breach needs to spread farther and wider. Please read their literature, learn from their events, and support their work in whatever way you can.


Visit the Repairers of the Breach website:



Read its blog:



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Like its Facebook page and learn about upcoming events, some of which are streamed:



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Purchase Barber’s books, Forward Together: A Moral Message for the Nation and The Third Reconstruction: How a Moral Movement is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear, via Powell’s:




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Believe It: You Matter, Part II: You Matter to Other People

This OTYCD entry originally posted in May 2017.


Believe it. You matter to other people. 


One of the most pernicious lies that authoritarians and their ilk try to push is that you don’t matter. That’s bullshit. You matter. If you didn’t matter, Trump and those who do his bidding wouldn’t be so hot and bothered about suppressing the vote under the guise of routing out voter fraud.


No matter who you are, no matter where you are, you have people who care about you and your opinions. For serious.


You can push back against Trump by believing, wholeheartedly, that you matter, and that the people around you care about what you have to say.


Stand up. Be calm. Be respectful. Be heard. Lather, rinse, repeat.


Keep speaking out against Trump and his sick, destructive worldview.


And most of all, keep finding ways to invite people to join you in your resistance. You are powerful alone, but you are more powerful with friends.


Don’t be put off if they say no. Keep asking people who you like to join you until someone says yes. If you are kind and deferential and no-strings-attached about it, someone will, eventually.


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Learn to Welcome Others to the Movement, Period, Full Stop

This OTYCD entry originally posted in April 2017.


Learn to welcome others to the movement, period, full stop.


In November 2016, New York magazine published a fascinating article that didn’t get the recognition it deserved. Titled Why Some Protests Succeed While Others Fail and filed under its Science of Us blog, the story contained mind-blowing revelations about how best to cultivate and direct the anti-Trump energy that arose after the election.




First, let’s list the takeaways from the piece, as identified by the writer, Jesse Singal. These boil down to:


Use Trump to draw people in, but don’t make him your lasting focus. Otherwise, your energy and your momentum will evaporate along with him when he goes.


Welcome everyone who wants to protest with youand make them feel welcome.


Don’t be violent.


The mind-blowing bits appear in the section where Singal discusses the second point, about the value of making people feel welcome. He cites the work of sociologist Ziad Munson, who has studied why people join and become increasingly active in causes such as the pro-life movement. Here are the mind-blowing bits, quoted in full (bold is added by OTYCD):


One of the key things he’s found, over and over and over, is that people often get involved in movements without having particularly strong ideological commitments to them.


Take the anti-abortion activists who were the subject of Munson’s book The Making of Pro-life Activists: How Social Mobilization Works. “I went back and I tried to determine what were their beliefs about abortion the first time they were involved in some kind of pro-life activity,” whether a protest in front of a clinic, the March for Life, or whatever else, he explained. “At that moment, only half of them would have considered themselves pro-life.” Moreover, a quarter “would have openly said they were pro-choice.” So why do they get involved? Someone asks them to. In one instance, for example, a woman’s eventually intense, long-term involvement in anti-abortion causes began simply because her doctor, whom she respected a great deal, asked her to come to an event. Prior to that, it just wasn’t something she had thought of.


Why is this mind-blowing? It shows you how much power you have.


Yes, you.


You’re doing so much good work to push back against Trump. You have one more task to add to your To-Do List: Ask someone to join you in pushing back against Trump.


You don’t have to do it thisverysecond. But you should think about who you want to invite, and when, and what you want to invite them to do.


Maybe you ask them to go to a protest with you. Maybe you ask them to go to a League of Women Voters’ meeting with you. Maybe you ask them to phone-bank for a Democratic candidate with you. Maybe you ask them to go to a member of Congress’s next local town hall meeting with you. Maybe you ask them to write and stamp postcards with you.


Whatever works. Whatever makes sense. Just do it.


Then keep doing it. Keep inviting other people–especially those who like you and trust you–to join you in pushing back against Trump.


Keep doing it until Trump is gone and we’ve cleaned up all the wreckage he’ll leave behind.


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