How can activists avoid burnout?
Gordon, Hava Rachel. 2009. We Fight to Win: Inequality and the Politics of Youth Activism. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press
Klandermans, Bert. 1997. The Social Psychology of Protest. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.
See also: Sharon Erickson Nepstad’s video on the same topic
Before an audience of several hundred people crammed into a Denver-area community center in April 2017, twelve-year-old Luna Vizguerra confidently approached a podium in front of the standing-room only crowd. Through an interpreter, she spoke directly to the few council members present at the event:
“Good evening. I am the daughter of Jeanette Vizguerra. I am here to talk not so much about her sanctuary but sanctuary policy here in Denver. There are people that are afraid to use the word ‘sanctuary’ but we are talking about the effect here in Denver of having these policy changes. We want to talk about what this policy would do to protect immigrants so that they won’t be afraid of the police and what is happening with this new administration. We don’t want children to live in fear, and we want you as elected officials to take your responsibility seriously so this won’t happen” (Colorado People’s Action 2017). Continue reading
Following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, an anti-Trump resistance movement began, drawing on much longer-existing movements ranging from the women’s movement to the Black Lives Matter movement to the immigrant rights movement. While Trump resisters are a diverse lot, in general, they are opposed to both Trump’s political agenda and his personal history of racism, capitalist greed, misogyny, and dishonesty. This opposition has taken many forms from Marches (e.g., the Women’s March) to protests and a greater involvement in state and local politics. Throughout this, one of the main questions has been whether and how this resistance can be sustained in the long run:
Many thanks to this great group of contributors.
Steven E. Barkan, University of Maine (essay)
Anna Brown, Saint Peter’s University (essay)
Peter Dreier, Occidental College (essay)
Paul Gorski, George Mason University (essay)
Michael McQuarrie, The London School of Economics (essay)
Lisa M. Martinez, University of Denver (essay)
Editors in Chief,
Grace Yukich, David Ortiz, Rory McVeigh, Guillermo Trejo
A central task of any social movement is to induce people to participate in movement efforts and to sustain their commitment to the cause once they do start participating. This task is especially important for movements that engage in protest, but it is also necessary for movements that limit themselves to electoral and other conventional political activities. The typical absence of material incentives for joining and participating in a movement makes this task highly necessary and one that occupies the attention of movement organizers. Continue reading
The election of Donald Trump is rightly understood as a dangerous moment for American democracy, and it has provoked enough anxiety to shake up the orthodoxies of political discourse. Along with this anxiety, then, is the possibility of political renewal. On the Left, the most interesting development is the emergence of “the Resistance” to Trump and his pursuit of a plutocratic and white ethnonationalist policy agenda with little regard for the rule of law. While the resistance is a useful moniker for capturing the variety of forms that protest and dissent have taken since Trump’s inauguration, it is also misleading. On the one hand, it certainly acknowledges the fact that Trump is deeply unpopular and a threat to the values and concerns of much of the country. Indeed, the threat Trump poses to civil discourse and the rule of law means that one of the first tasks of the Resistance, and one that should unify all of its disparate branches, is the defense of the basic ground rules of American public life that enable dissent to thrive at all. Continue reading
What We Are Reading These Days
Here of late, friends in the Kairos peace community and beyond have been re-reading and sharing one of Daniel Berrigan’s books: Ten Commandments for the Long Haul. This particular turn to Berrigan pivots on two questions for the peace communities: How do we stay rooted in the work of peacemaking, especially when the attacks on life are increasing at an exponential rate? How do we bring the gifts and insights of our ancestors and past struggles alive in the present moment and in our way? For those of us who were fortunate enough to live and act in community with Berrigan, we witnessed the answers to these questions embodied in Berrigan himself. My experience of Dan was one in which you thought that someone had flipped the light switch on permanently in him. Despite the travails of old age and ill health, despite witnessing a body politic that seemed to be hell bent on destroying our beloved earth and its peoples, there was always an illuminating light within Dan. More concretely, this light manifests itself in a steadfast courage, a mind and heart expressed poetically, and a love for life that compelled him to constantly gather folks into the community, never leaving anyone outside the circle. Continue reading
Over the past few years, efforts like Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, the Dreamers immigrant-rights movement, the battles against the Keystone pipeline and for marriage equality, and the Fight for $15 (minimum wage) campaign have generated a new wave of activism, but nothing has inspired more protest than Donald Trump’s election in November.
“Lots of us woke up the next morning wondering whether we understood the country as well as we thought we did,” said Gara LaMarche, president of the Democracy Alliance, a network of wealthy liberals that support progressive candidates and organizations. “We spent some time trying to absorb it.” Continue reading