Joy & Persistence

Reconnecting with Our Activism

Sam Chavez
Sam Chavez

Table of Contents

The following is an excerpt from a speech given at Swing Left San Franciscoโ€™s General Meeting on Joy & Persistence โ€” Reconnecting with our Activism

What a time to be alive.

My friends and I used to say that as a joke. But that was a different life.

I know all of us are feeling something today. Whether it is grief, anger, despair, or numbness.

I woke up Friday to righteous anger. โ€œDo you really think you can strip away my rights and get away with it?!โ€

On January 6th I felt shock. After Texas criminalized parenting trans children, I felt agony for the lives that would suffer. The pandemic brought me numbness at times. Iโ€™m sure weโ€™ve all experienced these waves of grief and emotions over the past 6 years.

Thereโ€™s no denying that are terrible forces in our country that are trying to drag us back to a time when wealthy white men controlled othersโ€™ lives and bodies. These forces have also kept us stuck for decades unable to move past our original sins, namely the brutality of Black and Brown bodies. Lasting patriarchal white supremacy has harmed all of us, even the men it claims to support.

Our Power

I know there is a lot to despair about these days but I am actually hopeful. I am hopeful because all of these issues are connected and there are solutions.

We must look to bold democracy reform to take back the power in this country. We must ensure our elections are on an even playing field, that no institution or person is above the law, and that our institutions are structured so that they function and actually enact change.

Only then can we effectively combat the climate crisis, ensure all are equal under the law, people have their basic needs met with dignity, and much more.

It certainly sounds insurmountable.

How can we possibly change things? It is so bad out there!

Yes, there are constant reminders of how horrible things are right now, but letโ€™s not lose sight of the progress we have made and the progress we can still make.

The 2018 and 2020 elections were historic. We collectively brought in more pro-choice, anti-racist, gun reform, and climate advocates across all levels of government. And that was just in two election cycles! Think of what else we can do this year and in 2024.

We know these forces have been at it for decades, even centuries. Itโ€™s not going to be easy. But we have more power than we know.

There were many comments about the SCOTUS decisions, but I was particularly struck by Sherrilyn Ifill, the former President of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. She said,

Itโ€™s easy to forget the power that we hold. Patriarchal white supremacy likes to constantly remind us that we donโ€™t have power. But thatโ€™s a lie. We do.

Collectively, we can turn the tides of our country towards a true multi-racial democracy where everyoneโ€™s vote counts, black, brown, and LGBTQ+ lives matter, our schools and community are funded, our planet is prioritized, and our communities are safe.

As the late, great John Lewis has said, "There are still forces in America that want to divide us along racial lines, religious lines, sex, class. But weโ€™ve come too far; weโ€™ve made too much progress to stop or to pull back. We must go forward. And I believe we will get there.โ€


I will end on a note about persistence. We must persist in this fight and the only way we can do that is by being healthy.

Iโ€™ve written in the past that activism is a relay race. It is not on one person to change things, but on the collective community that will stand up, support one another, and work together for change.

We must come together in community now and protect our energies. Take care of your mental health, reach out to friends and family, and find the small joys in life. These are crucial to continuing the work.

Humans were not meant to live in constant fear and agony. I encourage everyone to take the space they need to feel whole and healthy. The work will be here when youโ€™re ready. We will all be here when youโ€™re ready.

After the SCOTUS decision came down, I could have taken to the streets as I have after the leaked decision, after Uvalde, and other countless tragedies. But I chose a different path this time. I chose to spend my Friday night organizing a Pride Shabbat with my chosen family. I know I will get up and protest and organize many times before the Midterms, but what I needed in that moment was community and togetherness. It gave me the strength to continue on to be with the ones I love and know that they love me unconditionally.

So protect your energy and when youโ€™re ready, letโ€™s fight like hell.

๐Ÿ—ผ๐Ÿ—ž: Newsletter

Sam Chavez

Sam is a writer, strategist, and curious human. She founded the roots of change agency in 2020. Sam is a queer, white, LatinX activist whoโ€™s passionate about a livable planet & equitable societies.


Navigating heart-first activism & storytelling. We explore the ๐ŸŒฑ roots of our world to support communicators, organizations, and activists ๐Ÿฅต to avoid burnout and ๐Ÿ“š tell empathetic stories that cultivate connections that ๐ŸŒ empower โœŠ๐Ÿฝ social change.

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