We the People: Megan Skaff

We the People is a blog series that features the stories of members, supporters, volunteers, and allies of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota. Together we are accomplishing critical work in our state to protect and advance civil liberties across the Midwest and beyond.

Megan Skaff doesn’t do party politics. “Red and blue are just colors,” she says. Instead, Skaff prefers to look at the issues.

She’s particularly passionate about reproductive freedom, racial justice, and immigrants’ rights.

Skaff, who works as a patient support technician in Sioux Falls and is studying for her master’s degree in public health, loves to research the issues she cares most about and uses social media to advocate her position and educate others. It’s a little nerdy, she admits, but “if everyone had the mindset that they couldn’t fix the world’s problems, then nothing would get done!”

QUESTION: When did you first hear about the ACLU?

ANSWER: I learned about the ACLU in undergrad at the University of South Dakota. I loved my philosophy classes and would get so into arguing topics, the ACLU is the place I would go to cite my information and to find topics of interest.

Q: Which of the ACLU’s issue areas are you particularly passionate about and why?

A: If I could make a whole bunch of different versions of myself so I could tackle all of the different issues I’m interested in, I would.

I am super interested in reproductive freedom. I have done many projects on this subject. I will never be OK with someone telling someone else what to do with their body. We are all different, I might do one thing while you might do another, but we do not know each other’s circumstances. As far as I am concerned, stay in your own lane. I am also in love with immigrants’ rights and racial justice. Look at the alarming rates of racial disparities in prison and how we are living the “New Jim Crow.” And that Native Americans were forced onto their reservations without a hand to help them out. This is not OK.

What is your favorite way to get involved in your community?

Honestly, getting my message out there. I use my social media platforms, and what I see that I don’t like, I use my voice and I express. I tag our politicians. I am relentless. I want to see things get done, so I express to them what they could do better.

Why do you think it’s important to be involved in their communities?

If you see something being done that you don’t like, and you keep your mouth shut, you are just as bad as the person doing that thing.

Do you consider yourself a changemaker? Why?

Yes, I do. I go to activist workshops and I spend a momentous amount of time researching and writing in depth about the problems I care about. I spend an enormous amount of time tweeting at politicians about the things they need to do better on or need to change. I spend an enormous amount of time on social media educating people on COVID and why it’s important to vaccinate and mask up, even when you vaccinate, mask up. People love freedom, I love freedom, but like Joe Biden said, “With freedom comes responsibility.” That hit me hard. It was a truth bomb.

Do you have any advice for someone who might be interested in getting more politically involved in their community?

Use your voice. Don’t ever let anyone silence you. Listen to opinions of others out of respect. Sometimes, you’ll realize you are wrong and change your opinion and that is OK. But don’t you dare let anyone take your voice away. Use every platform you have. Create platforms. Just start having discussions.

Which of the Constitution’s amendments are most important to you and why?

Amendment 8 is extremely important to me. Please everyone go do me a favor and watch “Crime + Punishment” on Hulu (probably a 45-minute documentary). “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” First off, this is not followed, or just vaguely written to the point where we don’t know what “excessive bail” and “excessive fines imposed” or “cruel and unusual punishments inflicted” because our system does all of these things.

Otherwise, the death penalty wouldn’t pass as a punishment. People wouldn’t be waiting in prison for years until their trial date because their bail is too extreme to pay. Our system is horrible. Mark my words, I will be part of that change.