Words Have No Borders
Thank you for your patience while we’ve been evaluating the most effective way that we can work together to leverage the enormous momentum from the January 15th events. What follows is a call to action for Write Our Democracy (the name we’ve given our organization moving forward.)
Regarding the following, it’s urgent that we do not inadvertently put anyone’s safety at risk. It’s also essential that we make our efforts as effective as possible to cultivate substantive political change. For those reasons, I’m asking you to read this message completely and share it intact.
We are working with a team of people to build a sustainable organization cable of long-term enduring political influence. That involves a process and takes time.
We are also responding immediately to the extraordinary circumstances of the past week and particularly the to so-called “Muslim Ban,” which undermines the very heart of democracy and demands us all to take urgent action individually and collectively.
Our first “Action Prompt” is outlined here, and we invite all local Writers Resist organizers to mobilize their local communities to bring the power of stories to dismantle fear and stereotypes.
In order to combat the current climate of fear and isolationism, Write Our Democracy is launching a storytelling campaign meant to vividly illustrate the humanity of immigrant and refugee people. We would like to flood the country with stories that shake ugly, misinformed stereotypes and reveal the individuality and humanity that is trying to be obscured by the current immigration ban.
We believe this campaign will be most effective if these stories reach beyond the borders of our own political communities to demonstrate our shared humanity with those coming from another country to join us in the United States. We hope to inform and perhaps inspire even the slightest shift in thinking among people who do not have a frame of reference for understanding the tragic consequences the “Muslim Ban” poses for the process of democracy throughout the world.
Please respond to the Action Prompt by following the guidelines below, which we believe will make this campaign most successful as strategic political action.
Words Have No Borders Action Prompt:
We are a country of immigrants. On January 28th, we saw a sudden and unprecedented change in the way the United States addresses immigration. The American value of welcoming people who hope to make a new or better life, and who contribute vastly to that way of life, is now under direct assault.
One of the key ways that this new bigoted and isolationist doctrine has been able to gain power was through persistent highly crafted messaging intent on dehumanizing immigrants and people from cultures outside of the United States. Our goal is to push back directly against that strategy by illustrating the innate humanity and variety of those who practice the Muslim religion and people of other cultures generally. We hope our collective gift for storytelling and powerful imagery will infiltrate social streams and mindsets to create alternative and powerfully evocative storylines.
We are asking you to write the story of a human being who has changed their life by immigrating to the United States. Tell us why they came to America, tell us how, show us what makes this person remarkable in your eyes, and, in turn, help show the world why we are all part of a global community.
This will only work if great writers turn the full measure of their talents to the task.
We are calling on each of you to join this campaign to #WriteOurDemocracy. This is exactly the work writers can do to help those who fear the Other potentially realize some nascent empathy that must be built if we are to fully address the fear, privilege and bigotry that's taken hold of many in the United States. Thank you for joining us in this important effort.
Most of us know someone who came from another country to settle in the US. Maybe that person was a friend or a family member. Maybe you are an immigrant yourself. No matter the circumstance, we are asking you to write these stories and share them with as many people as possible.
The story that you tell can be about your own experience or the experience of someone you know and care about. You might even consider reaching out to an interfaith community organization or local mosque to meet someone and tell their story.
Here are step-by-step instructions on how to get started:
1. Our initial focus will be to share these stories via social media, specifically through Facebook and Twitter. (If you do not already have a Twitter account, now would be a good time to get one.) There are additional ways you can share these stories, for example on a blog, or by writing a letter to the editor. We will get more specific details to you tomorrow on the organizer’s forum on how to get your story circulating.
2. If this story is not your own, speak with the person you plan to write about to get their permission and engage in a dialogue about what you are doing and why.
3. For their safety, please do not use anyone’s name or details that might specifically identity anyone you are writing about who could become the target of a hate crime. Please also opt to use a pseudonym if you have reason to fear for your own safety.
4. Share this story with as many people as possible using #WriteOurDemocracy and #LibertySpeaks. We believe our voices will travel more widely if we avoid hashtags that announce an overt political ideology. Post on your own personal and professional Facebook pages and in your Twitter accounts. Ask friends and associates to share.
5. Keep a document with links to each of these stories as people in your local community post them or they get published so that we can access the stories, promote the campaign to the media, and assess its impact.
6. Please do not post these stories or links directly to the Organizer Forum. Keep the forum limited to organizational questions and the sharing of ideas.
7. Check back on the Organizer Forum for additional information and support to get these stories promoted and published.
The written word is a powerful way to understand our shared humanity and effect change. There are no borders between words. Together we can #WriteOurDemocracy.