HIV ac­tivist ba­sics for the Trump era

JD Davids is the manag­ing ed­i­tor of HIV/AIDS re­source TheBody.com. Find him on Twit­ter @JDatTheBody.

GA Voice - - Outspoken - By JD Davids

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.

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