We need your help with our year-end matching challenge from long time member Jim Sheehan and our Steering Committee! Every dollar you give by December 31 will be matched up to $5410 – so please give today! I encourage you in this moment to dig deep for our year-end drive. We need resources to grow this movement. Whether digging deep means $20 or $250, I hope you see your gift as an investment in our collective survival.
I want to share my own story as one of your newest Steering Committee members. My name is Fitz. In the wake of the election you, like me, may have found yourself in an initial state of shock, anger and maybe even fear. In my opinion we are facing the most contentious political moment since 9/11 and certainly the most panic-inducing president-elect for those of us engaged and awake to the plight of oppressed populations. When I found out I would be living in a country where Donald Trump — a man who has expressed sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic and xenophobic views — would be president, I almost refused to believe it. As a queer and trans person living in Eastern Washington, I am used to feeling like an outsider but this was a whole other ball game. I awoke to panicked messages from my parents and other loved ones who were actively fearing for my life in light of the impending administration.
PJALS had already planned an election debrief event no matter the results. I didn’t have to ask where to go or what to do and I had an answer for other folks who were similarly at a loss. My own fear was replaced with a sense of responsibility as a new Steering Committee member. That day I got on Facebook and amidst the rubble of status updates that spurted feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and even hate, I saw glimmers of light from PJALS Director Liz Moore and my fellow Steering Committee member, Taylor Weech. What they each said boiled down to the following: Agitate. Educate. Organize.
Over two hundred people turned out to our election debrief meeting and renewed my faith in humanity. For most people there, showing up to share their frustration was their first act of activism, in their entire lives. I spoke to numerous white folks who were finally admitting to themselves that racism was alive and more monstrous than ever. People were on fire!
By the time the election hit I was just starting to dip my toes back into the raging river that is the activist world. Since I was 15, I had faced the behemoths that are our economic and political structures, and I felt small and defeated. I didn’t come back because I was moved by the plight of others or even myself. I came back because I was invited to a PJALS membership meeting with free food and was miraculously reminded of who the members of this organization were. I was surrounded by people who may have looked nothing like me and yet made me feel completely welcome, whole, and human. Since coming out as transgender it was rare for me to be recognized that way. The fire these people carried in their hearts made it near impossible for me to continue to feel so jaded. The conversations we had were vulnerable, honest and passionate. The power of the people was tangible in that space.
PJALS members like you have inspired me on so many levels. You’ve worked across so many issues including supporting youth as leaders through the Young Activist Leaders Program (which I had been a part of when I was 19), smart justice reforms, truth in recruitment and anti-racist education for potential white allies; you worked across all systems of oppression. It’s no wonder this organization has thrived for forty years.
We are faced with a need and opportunity to grow our movement for peace and justice that PJALS is best prepared for. This is an organization that would be mobilizing no matter who was in office. This is an organization that retains members through compassion and a recognition of shared humanity. This is an organization that has been doing this work — and doing it well! — for decades. Check out our work and our priorities going forward! Now isn’t the time to reinvent the wheel — let’s call everyone in to join us and magnify our collective efforts!
To those of you already giving, I encourage you in this moment to dig a little bit deeper in our year-end drive. Right now — every dollar you give by December 31 will be matched up to $5410! When you give $20, we receive $40! When you give $250, we receive $500!
I encourage those of you that are not already to become sustaining members. Giving even $5 a month sustains our programs and actions so that we can spend less time asking and more time doing the work. I’m an artist, poet to be specific, and my line of work certainly isn’t the most lucrative, but it’s worth it to scrounge whatever I can to give back every month to an organization that is so vital to this community. If you commit by December 31 to give $5 monthly, we’ll receive $120!
Thank you all for reminding me that I am not small and I am not helpless. As a movement, all of us together are bigger than any violence that could seek to destroy us. I look forward to organizing with all of you! Please join me on Inauguration day where no matter the outcome of the election, PJALS members would always be rallying for peace.
In love, light, and outrage,
On behalf of the Peace & Justice Action League of Spokane’s Steering Committee:
Cly Evans, Chair
Taylor Weech, Vice Chair
Ray Thorne, Secretary