HIV activist basics for the Trump era
JD Davids is the managing editor of HIV/AIDS resource TheBody.com. Find him on Twitter @JDatTheBody.
Regardless of where we sit – or where we toss and turn – during these long nights since the United States presidential election, many of us are wondering what we can do to take care of ourselves and each other, and how we can even hold our gains in the HIV epidemic, much less prevent the loss of significant ground.
I’m working with HIV activist Jennifer Johnson Avril on a new effort called #ActivistBasics, which draws from the rich history and present-day efforts of HIV and other activist movements to provide tools, information and inspiration for our present and coming struggles.
Here are some ideas that we’re talking about in our #ActivistBasics effort:
Just as I have reached out to comrades and loved ones, asking, “What are we doing? What should I do?,” others have reached out to me. In this uncertainty, I encourage us to go with what we know: ourselves.
What do you know about your strengths, your skills, your drive? In what areas do you feel confident, and how can you bring that together with the areas in which you hope to grow? Make a list of your skills and qualities, your areas of interest and those about which you are curious, and bring that self-knowledge to take your seat in our coming efforts for HIV justice.
There’s going to be a lot to do, and no one person can do it all, so go with what feels productive and important to you. Make a list of what current initiatives and groups appeal to you. Then put them into a two-by-two grid. There are four boxes in a two-by-two grid: one for efforts that are easier for you and may have the most impact, one for those that are easy but may have less impact, plus one each for harder efforts that have more or less impact. That can help you decide where to start first – probably something in the box of things that are easier to do and have a greater possible impact.
You don’t have to go it alone. I encourage people to start an “affinity group,” a cluster of two to eight people you already know and trust who are dedicated to supporting each other. Whether you all work on different efforts and come together to replenish at a weekly potluck dinner, or whether you decide to join a group and work together to make sure you can get to the meetings and events, you’ll have this base to come home to in the long struggle ahead.
Pulling together #ActivistBasics isn’t just a way for me to feel useful. It’s the result of me going through the very process I’ve just recommended – looking at my skills, resources, realities and passions to determine what will help me connect with my past, calm my breath in the present and get ready to face the future. It is an honor to work in the HIV community, and I welcome your ideas, your strategies and your collaboration.