What YOU Can Do
by Saab Lofton
"In Oregon, author Andy Mangels organizes an annual October event called Wonder Woman Day to raise awareness of domestic violence. Original artwork of the Amazon princess created by the superstars of comic book artists is auctioned off, with the money raised going to women's shelters."
--Mike Madrid, from his book, The Supergirls
See, that's what I'm talking about! Here you have a fictional character (as a storyteller, that's my area of expertise) quite literally making the real world a better place! Since its 2006 debut, Wonder Woman Day has raised over eighty-nine thousand dollars for battered women's shelters and I hope/wish/pray this is just the beginning!
If you can't afford to emulate what Andy Mangels has done, that's sad but understandable. What I woN'T tolerate is some snide cynic turning their nose up at a comic book superheroine; that WILL get your feelings hurt, I guar-an-tee it. NOR will I tolerate anyone claiming that the costume is too revealing/exploitive -- don't hate her 'cause she's beautiful, honey ..!
One of the many feminist characters I've created over the years is Silverbullet -- the world's first black lesbian superheroine ...
... and hopefully, one day, I'll finally be in a position to do at least as well as Mangels; the sooner the better, obviously, seeing as how so many worthy charities are in need of funds NOW.
I'm tired of going to left-wing meetings where every other activist is sitting around depressed; rattling off the latest in Orwellian headlines and lamenting about how burnt out they are. Fuck that shit! If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will, so keep your head up! In case the perpetually gloomy peace movement has forgotten, those huge protests in February of 2003 kept countries like Canada from taking an active part in the invasion of Iraq, so imagine how much worse 2010 would be if all those protesters had stayed home ...
Professor Noam Chomsky stated the following during his interview with The Progressive: "Every night I get many letters, and after every talk I get many questions from people who say, 'I want to change things. What can I do?' I never hear these questions from peasants in southern Colombia or Kurds in southeastern Turkey under miserable repression or anybody who is suffering. They don't ask what they can do; they tell you what they're doing. Somehow the fact of enormous privilege and freedom carries with it a sense of impotence, which is a strange, but striking, phenomenon ... there is no difficulty, wherever you are, in finding groups that are working hard on things that concern you. But that's not the kind of answer that people want. The answer that they want, I think, in the back of their minds is, what can I do that will be quick and easy and bring about an end to these problems? They remind me of Columbia students whom I used to argue with back in 1968, who literally thought, 'Look, we're sitting in the president's office for a couple of weeks. After that, it's all going to be peace and love' ... That's not the way things work. If you want to make changes in the world, you're going to have to be there day after day doing the boring, straightforward work of getting a couple of people interested and building a slightly bigger organization and carrying out the next move and suffering frustration and finally getting somewhere. That's how the world changes."
Given America's penchant for instant gratification, Professor Chomsky's prescription of "boring, straighforward work" is going to turn a lot of folks off (it certainly explains why I'm still single at forty-plus), but thy MUST be done!
Professor Chomsky has often spoken of, "the civilizing effect of the activism of the 1960s, which changed society in many ways (Tikkun Magazine, June 2009)," so clearly, marching en masse while carrying signs is essential, but here's a partial list of relatively affordable and rarely tested activities which can also make a difference ...
1) Benefit concerts are great ways to raise funds for good causes, but there can just as soon be dance contests, fashion shows, athletic competitions, car washes and bake sales. Given how much groups like Amnesty International and A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism) need money, have all of the above.
2) Hold what I call Pizza Screenings: Find someplace where you can regularly play left-wing movies (Canadian Bacon, Erin Brockovich, V for Vendetta, Star Trek: The Voyage Home, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, etc., etc.) for large audiences and provide enough pizza/soda for everyone.
3) PAY kids to read and write book reports based on (G or PG rated) left-wing texts such as Professor Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States ... Sure, it's bribery, but we're competing against video games, here!
4) Dress up like zombies and stagger around military recruiting stations -- remind those recruiters (and potential recruits) that the military-industrial complex traffics in DEATH ... Be sure to frequently moan the word "brains" because military intelligence is a contradiction in terms.
I'm going to end with one of my favorite quotes -- from someone I used to work alongside back when I lived in Vegas (1999 to 2006) ...
"Things can get better. They can. I swear. History may be a cycle, but I believe it is possible to force that cycle to spin upwards. We may never have Utopia, but we can keep trying. We have to. Who will forgive us if we don't?"
--Dr. Joshua Ellis, co-founder of Mperia, one of the first online music stores to allow independent and unsigned artists to sell their own work directly to their fans