Wednesday, December 21, 2016
5 Ways You Can Fight For Equality Right Now
Since the dust has settled on the election fight, a lot of people have expressed feeling a bit helpless. Here are a few ways that you can get engaged and speak out on the issues that are important to you.
1. Get Informed (and watch out for fake news)
For those of use who are becoming more engaged with politics after this election, getting informed on which pieces of legislation and appointments are going to impact the issues and people we care about. First, identify which you are concerned about, whether it be freedom of the press, immigrant rights, women's reproductive rights,or preventing gerrymandering. You can google organizations that are fighting for those rights (such as the ACLU, MALDEF, Planned Parenthood, and the YWCA) visit their website to see what legistlation they are fighting, what they support, and which politicians to contact. You can also follow them on social media for news.
Also, whenever you are receiving news from social media make sure you check to make sure that it is legitimate. Buzzfeed has an informative article on how to detect fake news. You should also check anything you read against fact checking sites, like politifact.com and snopes.com.
Support legitimate news sources! Buy an online or print subscription to news organizations like the New York Times, the Boston Globe, or the Guardian (UK). Watch unbiased reporting from Al Jazeera, The BBC, or PBS.
Read up on history of marginalized communities, feminism, black lives, and religious intolerance to recognizes the signs and know when to take action.
2. Call government officials and participate in actions
Taking an active role in government is essential. You can visit sites like Common Cause to find out who your elected officials are and how to contact them. You can let them know how you'd like them to vote on upcoming bills, thank them/condemn them for past votes, and ask them to take action on things like the Crisis in Aleppo, defunding of Planned Parenthood, and the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act. You can stay informed on upcoming votes by going to govtrack.us.
Those who are able to can also participate in direct actions such as rallies for peace, protests and marches, blockades, and boycotts.
3. Support organizations that are already fighting the good fight
Go back to those organizations that you found in step one and donate! Non-profits subsist on grants and donations and any little bit counts. Make sure you make your support heard by setting recurring donations, and fowarding calls for action or donations to your network of friends and family. Grants from the government for this kind of work may dwindle in the coming years, so this is especially important. Buzzfeed has a pretty good list of organizations for a variety of issues.
Donate your time as well! Volunteer, join a march, serve on a committee, anything to further the work of great organizations. Even attending an event such as our Talking the Talk series, or Planned Parenthood's workshops can show that you're engaged and listening.
4. Offer help to those closest to you in marginalized communities
Make sure you are available to those among your aquaintances in vulnerable communities. Reach out to your friends, family, and co-workers who are women, people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+, or Muslim and check-in. Ask them how they are doing and make sure you LISTEN. Try not to say that everything is going to be ok, listen to their concerns and make realistic suggestions on what they can do to address them if that's what they want, or just let them vent and feel heard.
Also take care to listen to those outside your circle. There are a myriad of voices on social media from marginalized communities who's perspective are probably outside of your purview, seek them out and amplify them. Retweet and Share their messages against hatred, bigotry, and it really means to live in an America that discriminates against them.
Don't just make empty gestures such as wearing a safety pin or changing your avatar on social media, actually BE there for those who are most affected by discriminatory policy, hatred, and bigotry.
5. Take Care of Yourself.
While it's important to do everything I've enumerated above, make sure you take time away from social media, the news, and political discussion. Whether it's by reading a book, taking a walk, or having a good meal with friends or family, you have to make sure that your mind is not so burdened by the fear and sadness that you get overwhelmed and burnt out. Make sure that you also have a network of people that you are able to reach out to when it gets to be too much. The support of family, counselors, religious leaders, and mental health organizations can be crucial to staying healthy and protecting your mental health.