Guest Blog

My Resistance Journey

by Rosey Abuabara
Co-chair TX23 Indivisibles

I never thought I'd be doing what I'm doing. I never thought I'd be protesting, organizing, or doing interviews for the news. But here I am. Somehow, I found myself as a reluctant co-chair of something I had no idea what to do. I was the co-chair of TX23Indivisibles.

I went to my first protest against Rep. Will Hurd. I knew nothing about him, so I googled him up and found that he was a horrible representative. So, I made a sign out of a piece of cardboard I cut from a box. My first protest sign said "don't be afraid of us", thinking that my rep would eventually come around and meet with us. (He still hasn't, as of this writing). The people organizing said they were going to protest everyday for 4 days. I went all four days. I learned that elected officials can say whatever they want, yet vote another way. That's why I am working to flip our congressional district from red to blue, and hold them accountable.
I've met many people like me who felt the need to get involved and stay involved in our communities. People who are first time activists like me. We started sharing our experiences. We discovered that our common goal to want to make change was deep, and it united us.

On the occasion of Texas Governor Greg Abbott's announcement for reelection, we decided to attend it wearing our Indivisible shirts. We had no plan to disrupt things. We just wanted to hear what he had to say. We never suspected anything would happen. As a group, we decided we needed some people to protest outside, and some of us to go inside. As it turned out, the atmosphere was crazy inside. People were loudly chanting  "keep Texas red". For myself, I didn't engage with anyone. I ignored any comments made to me. I decide it was so crazy in there that I started recording using Facebook live. Suddenly I saw one of the women I rode with being shoved by police out the door, arms behind her back. Then another friend was whipped around and pushed out of the building, arms behind their backs. This was happening all around me. Eventually, they came to me and told me to leave or get arrested. I asked why I was being asked to leave, since I was quietly standing there recording. They said I was a "possible agitator". I guess they didn't like my t-shirt. Ultimately, I relented and left. I walked out to the protesters outside, only to find them frantically trying to find the husbands of my women friends arrested. We were all in disbelief and shock. It was like a Trump rally. We innocently went to make a statement, and 3 in our group got detained, with their hands zip tied behind their backs, and a paddy wagon parked close by.
Slowly the 3 women came out. They were told that the Governor decided not to press charges.
We were so traumatized that we went for margaritas afterward to talk about what had just happened to us.
If we had been bonding before that, after that, we bonded completely. It only served to strengthen our resolve to continue fighting, even if we got arrested.

No one ever told me that activism was so much fun. Being around so many like minded women made it easy for conversation to flow. We have shared our life experiences with each other, our beliefs that everyone should be equal under the law. We've discussed how we can no longer go back to our old lives of listening to the news and wishing things would be better. We had to be part of the solution. Things are critical. Everyday we get hit several times with unbelievable news of our elected officials, not just nationally, but locally. We have learned that local politics affect our lives more than national politics. So, many of us have become involved with local politics to ensure that our voices are heard. We are encouraged to join boards, to run for office, to take a seat at the table. For myself, I became a precinct chair.

Although there are some men in this movement, on the whole, there are mostly women. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because so many laws are being made against us. There are so many freedoms we took for granted that are being stripped away. I know that women before me fought for rights I take advantage of. The right to vote comes to mind. It's now my turn to fight for our future generations. Never let it be said that we stood around and let it happen. We fought like hell. In this age of social media, everything is being documented.

I know that what motivates me is making change for my kids. Other kids will benefit because I spoke up and stood strong.
I have met wonderful people along the way. I have heard stories of homelessness and hopelessness, stories that break your heart, stories that make you want to make the world a better place. Stories that make you wake up everyday and get out of bed and make a difference. And that's what I strive to do. Make a difference, even if it's a small difference. I can live with myself knowing I did my part. I sleep well at night now. Bad news keeps coming, but it only serves to motivate me to continue fighting, because we are literally fighting for our lives.


The Value of Doing Things That Don’t Matter

by Zoe M-W

The small liberal arts college from which I am about to graduate is famous for being the bloodiest of the bleeding hearts, the hipster mecca of America, a producer of musicians and artists likely to create a senior project that could be mistaken for the dregs of a garage sale. So, when I first toured the campus buildings I was shocked to find the plain and aging humanities classrooms in stark contrast to the glittering, modern science facilities. Even here, where students clamor to fulfill their math and science requirements with classes like “chemistry for photographers” and “secret codes”, the sciences were well-funded, catered-to, and touted. This American obsession with the harder disciplines is pervasive. Our society tells us that career tracks like medicine or law matter more than art or poetry. It also instills that any free time should probably be an occasion to spend money: off of work? Go get a drink with coworkers. Weekend? Shopping. If you’re not spending money you should be bettering yourself and the outward displays of your station in life: work out, power wash your fence. We are rarely encouraged to simply take a walk or sit with ourselves. In a society obsessed with the performative, actions done for ourselves are ascribed lesser importance.

I personally have struggled a great deal with this concept of “real” pursuits. As a poetry major who also studies ancient religious texts, I have lain awake many nights worrying that the fields to which I have devoted myself possess no concrete value. When I started participating in DGB, I would feel a momentary reward of completing my action only to listen to the latest news broadcast and sink into that despair that comes from sticking your neck out and still feeling completely invisible. But of the few academic lessons I remember from high school (sorry, teachers), one concept from AP environmental science has stayed with me: the tragedy of the the commons. The idea here is that everyone believes that they, as one person, are insignificant and their actions are irrelevant and this causes them to behave in ways that are wasteful and unsustainable. “I’m just one person, so if I eat more than my share there will still be plenty left”. True, but when everyone over-uses, we’re left with nothing. The seemingly humble belief that our actions don’t matter turns out to be an exceedingly self-centered viewpoint with devastating consequences.

Especially now, we have to believe that small things do matter and we have to believe that everything we do is real by virtue of us doing it. Things that have nothing to do with making or spending money can have value because they’re beautiful or quiet. We can do something that doesn’t make any sense just because it feels right. And we can take actions that feel small and know that somewhere out there another equally small person is doing the same, making our actions a little bit bigger. So vivan los wastes of time. Let’s do things that we’re told don’t matter. I think we’ll be surprised at how much they do.


Americans Resisting Overseas in the Trump Era: Backburner Activism or the Next Best Thing?

by the Americans Resisting Overseas Team

The Women’s March on Washington revealed the power and commitment of Americans living overseas to exercise their citizenship and participate in the current political struggle from outside the USA. By simply adding an international registration option to their online platform, millions signed up to march in over 50 countries. The global ‘’huddles’’ that mushroomed from the DC Sister marches represent a living experiment for transnational citizenship in the Trump era.

Despite this great success in overseas mobilization, other United States based social movements have not followed suit. The absence of international registration options on the wonderful ACLU People Power and RISE Stronger grassroots platforms are indicative of the absence of Americans living overseas’ voices and visibility in the current political context. While the Women’s Global Marches proved that Americans living outside the USA are willing to be politically active, they still remain largely under the radar and underutilized by US advocacy efforts as a whole.

Although not everyone has caught on to the fact that Americans living overseas have the potential to be an important political force, there has never been a better time to exercise transnational citizenship. This is the reason we set up the online platform Americans Resisting Overseas, as a space to support Americans overseas in exercising active citizenship through mobilizing, learning and sharing actions with others from outside the USA.

Today, as an American migrant who has lived in Medellin, Colombia for six years, I, like so many others in the world, receive news of what is going on in the USA as it happens through social media. I can volunteer for US NGOs “remotely’’, make cheap overseas calls to my Members of Congress via Skype, mail postcards to the White House that will arrive within 14 days, participate in public policy webinars, receive online civil rights trainings, participate in global marches, and coordinate with other activists through SLACK, all from outside the United States. Not only can I connect with my own country, but I can, in a second, coordinate with other American activists living overseas in dozens of other countries through apps like WhatsApp.

This is transnational citizenship at its height, the ability to be both here, the country where we currently live, and there, the country where we come from.

Why then has American overseas activism been left at the fringe? For one thing, American citizenship is still too often associated with physical borders, versus a sense of belonging, participation, and identity which can be nurtured regardless of the physical territory where we live. Indicative of this, is the fact that Americans living overseas did not even gain the right to an absentee ballot vote until the Overseas Voting act of 1975.

The case for including Americans living overseas in activism is not helped by the fact that there are not any real numbers on how many Americans live outside the USA. Estimates guess between 2 and 7 million, somewhere between the size of the population of Rhode Island and Tennessee.

Some might argue that another reason for the distance of Americans abroad from US politics is that many Americans living overseas left the US in order to escape American systems. Some of the strongest lobbying efforts that have historically emerged from the Americans resisting overseas movement have been around taxes, versus in defense of rights.

However, these are not ordinary times and the current political situation has motivated American migrants who otherwise would not become involved to mobilize, politicize, and stay active.

2 to 7 million people…How can this political power be put to use by the organizing efforts in the United States? I would venture that the responsibility is two-fold. On one hand, the movements in the States should be aware of how transnational citizenship can come into play in influencing public policy. We no longer live in a world where physical borders determine our ability to participate. Today overseas Americans can boycott Ivanka products and jam their MoC’s phone lines with the same ease as someone from within the States.

On the other hand, Americans living overseas must become better organized, find each other, and connect and form alliances, not just with other Americans but with activists from the countries in which they are living who almost certainly are also being harmed by the current administration’s policies. The establishment of online platforms such as Americans Resisting Overseas based out of Colombia, Progressive Action Global Exchange reaching countries in Africa, the Middle East and Europe, Solidarity for Humanity in Switzerland, and American Expats for Positive Change in the UK are just some of many groups that have begun to take important steps towards making visible what is happening from abroad and working collaboratively with others to organize against the current administration from outside the USA.

Advocating for social change is complex. Trying to understand what works and what doesn’t from outside the United States adds an extra level of complexity. But, like millions of other Americans living overseas, I am willing to be part of this living political experiment. I, along with others, will be organizing and making enough noise from outside the USA for Trump and my representatives to hear me, even from all the way across the ocean.


Americans Resisting Overseas is a platform to share experiences of American activism overseas in the Trump era and inspire others to take action from outside the USA.