At a time when everything (including resistance) seems futile, how do you keep going? Sometimes throwing money at a problem helps
By Abi Slone
I am a credit card activist. I wasn’t always, but I am today.
When I was in university and living in Montreal, I was an actual activist. Not with a capital A, but I earned a badge or two protesting things like the arrival of heinous “family values” groups from the United States, wearing my Judaism like a badge (but in a good way) and discovering that fat can be fabulous. When I left the city of protests and public outcry, I fell in with a solid gang in my new city and began doing work that felt like it mattered. Work that helped make a difference in the community. Work that affected change, however small.
Fast-forward almost 20 years and the only actions I seem to have time for with any regularity involve the movement of fingertips on my keyboard, and my credit card being taken out of, and put back into, my wallet. I am one of those, a credit card activist. And I am not alone. But like many others, I often wonder: is it enough? Yes. Pulling out your wallet to help is enough, especially when it feels like that’s all we can do. Despite our society’s rapid slide into a modern-day McCarthyism renaissance, there are ways that we can continue to give whatever passion (and cash) we do have, to things that matter. Like, really matter. Like not the Kardashians. Or the Wests. Or the Kardashian-Wests.
Arts & culture
Pussy Riot. Guerrilla Girls. Madonna’s Woman of the Year acceptance speech at the Billboard Women in Music event in 2016. M.I.A. every time she opens her mouth. Protest work is best when things are at the tipping point—dangerous for the stability of our collective future, but thought-provoking enough that we’re often moved to action. Better than continuing to support the aforementioned women, who already have a “following,” is to support those artists who are putting in the time and effort to think on the times and reflect back our reality. In Toronto, Sketch [sketch.ca] works at providing a space for homeless and street-involved youth to not only help them build leadership and economic self-sufficiency skills, but also to create and make art and “cultivate social and environmental change.”
Organized religion is definitely not my go-to when it comes to donations, but since 2013—before Aleppo was on everyone’s lips—the United Church of Canada [united-church.ca/syria] has been working to bring refugee families to this country in a way that ensures they have the support they need to prosper in their new communities. The United Church is also the lover of the gays, so that helps.
At a public salon hosted by Toronto City Councillor Kristyn-Wong Tam on the topic of “Truth and Reconciliation in the Urban Context,” someone on the panel said there is very little space for reconciliation if we don’t first take the step before it: restitution. In a broader context, that responsibility lies with government, but on a smaller scale, more personal participation can be facilitated with that trusty credit card. The Native Women’s Association of Canada [nwac.ca] promotes and fosters the social, cultural and economic health of First Nations and Métis women within Firs Nation, Métis and Canadian societies. Made up of several women’s organizations across the country, it has been in operation since 1974, supporting Native women.
Escape. Literally. And it’s possible that Canada’s Rainbow Railroad [rainbowrailroad.ca] could soon be helping some of our neighbours to the south who may find themselves even more of a target at some point in the not-too-distant future. Just as the name suggests (it borrows from the Underground Railroad), the organization has been helping out queers in serious need from around the world since 2006. Designed to “rescue” queers from their current circumstances and facilitate a move to a safer environment, the Railroad is literally a lifesaver. In 2013, the Railroad hired an executive director, started issuing tax receipts, and has made it even closer to their fundraising goals.
Giving. Keep doing it. It makes everyone feel good.
ABI SLONE is a writer, editor and traveller. She is not a natural redhead.