As I sat down to write my column [on November 28, 2016], I found myself incapable of writing about anything other than the state of our world post-election. The elevation of Donald Trump to the highest office in the land marks a radical shift in our politics and in our lives. Hate has been normalized and the most vulnerable and helpless members of our society are at risk. As lawyers, we are uniquely qualified to come to their aid and make a difference in the coming months and years. Already the practicality of establishing registries for Muslim immigrants – something that seemed a farfetched idea just weeks ago – is being actively discussed by members of the President-elect’s incoming cabinet and the inexcusable and shameful Japanese internment during World War II have been offered as precedent for these future registries. Mass deportations are also on the table, with no care given to how those deported will be received in the countries from which they have fled. Hate crimes are being committed in the name of our President-elect across the country at an alarming rate.
Freedom is at risk. Liberty is at risk. Lives are at risk. Not just the lives and liberties of those being targeted by the incoming administration, but the lives and liberties of all Americans. We are at a pivotal moment in our history and we have a choice: we can either sit idly by and allow the unthinkable to occur or we can take action. As attorneys, we have an obligation to use our skills and our voices to fight for what’s right and just. We must make a difference.
But where do we start? We organize, donate money, provide pro bono representation, and offer vocal support to those who are vulnerable. We can make a difference on many levels, both professionally and personally.
Shortly after the election, I stepped back and gave careful thought to the steps I could immediately take to foster change. And then, I acted. If you, too, are interested in taking action, here are some ideas.
First, consider setting up recurring donations to organizations that fight for social justice, including: NAACP Legal Defense Fund, ACLU, Planned Parenthood, Center for Reproductive Rights, Anti-Defamation League, Southern Poverty Law Center, Trevor Project for LGBT Youth, Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council, Council on American-Islamic Relations, and National Immigration Law Center. Also consider donating to local organizations with similar goals.
Because free, unencumbered press is fundamental to a democratic society, one way to forward these rights is to support news organizations that provide quality, in-depth reporting, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post. Another option is to donate to ProPublica, an independent, non-profit newsroom that produces investigative journalism in the public interest.
The right to assemble and peacefully protest is likewise another important First Amendment right, so consider attending the upcoming protest in Washington, D.C., the Women’s March, on January 21st or other more local protests.
Finally, I invite you to join a local group that I’ve organized of nearly 40 like-minded locals, including many lawyers, who would like to start taking steps to help those who will be most affected by the predicted policies of this new administration. Our first meeting was held over the weekend and we are starting our work to have a positive impact and effect change in our local community. Message me on social media (@nikiblack on Twitter or via LinkedIn) and I’ll send you more information.
So please, join us. This is a pivotal time in our history, and we cannot be complacent. If you, like me, are concerned about the future of our country and the impact of the policies that will likely be implemented by this incoming administration, now is the time to step up to the plate and take action. If not now, when?
[Editor’s note – this posting is reprinted with the permission of the author, where it first appeared on her own blog.]