The Time Is Now
Today, I want to address making history instead of telling stories of the past.
Now is the time to seize the opportunity for change. Change that has shamefully not been made in the past. We can rally together and create the changes we need to make our society the one we want, with real equality and universal justice.
We are transitioning now from the protest phase to the political and legal one. This is where the rubber hits the road. We can march and protest and say all the right things on social media. But it is up to those of us with privileged voices to make sure we achieve what we’re all fighting for.
Thanks to hundreds of years of baked-in systemic racism and injustice, this is going to be a long haul. But it is worth it to have a country that lives up to the ideals we claim it has.
Do not let the challenge deter you. History shows that it is the determined that make the world. There are some very determined people who want to keep the status quo because it serves them, regardless of the cost to those around them. We have to be more determined. The good news is that we all have some time on our hands and we can’t go anywhere else right now. Let’s channel this time and energy to make some change!
HOW TO MAKE CHANGE
Thankfully we have many avenues for making change. Here are some options:
This one is key. We must vote. It is our civic duty and is rapidly becoming necessary for the survival of the American Experiment. Not everyone in the world has the right to vote. Not everyone in the U.S. has the right to vote. Our own leaders are trying make it harder and less safe for us to vote. That alone should make you want to vote! If you have the right to vote, do it! No more sitting on the sidelines. No more saying your vote doesn’t count. The only vote that doesn’t count is the one that isn’t made.
Not sure of your voting status or if your info is correct? Not sure how to vote in your area? Check out these resources:
The U.S. Government Voting Site
Rock The Vote
Don’t forget that voting isn’t just once every four years. Your state and local governments hold elections at least annually. However, if we’re going to get anywhere with any of this on a national level, you must vote in the presidential election!
Petitions are another way to show legislators that people support an idea. It can also help get new initiatives on ballots in your area. This is another route for your voice to be heard and in the 21st century it couldn’t be easier.
You can look for petitions to sign or start your own at Change.org (the most famous) and Moveon.org (politically focused).
Often non-profit organizations and community groups will have their own petitions. Check your favorite organizations’ websites to see how you can help.
PUBLIC PROTEST AND SUPPORT
If you want a more immediate and tangible option and you feel comfortable doing so, you can join protests in your area. Note that peaceful protest does not include rioting or looting. No matter how justified your anger, these are still crimes.
You can also publicly show your support in many other ways, from social media to blog entries (hi!) to merchandise to letters to your editor.
Remember that our constitution protects free speech. But with freedom comes great responsibility. Use your public platforms wisely.
WRITE YOUR REPRESENTATIVES
We often forget that our president, congress people, governors, mayors, and other officials are elected. We vote them into their job and they represent us. Awesomely, in the U.S. we can communicate with them. Let them know what you expect of them.
For your House representatives, go here. For the Senate, here. For your state and local governments, check out the corresponding websites for contact information. I think we all know where we can find the president.
Beyond knowing your civic rights and how to exercise them, further education is probably needed. If you are not a person of color, there is likely a gap between the support, outrage, and sympathy you feel and the reality on the ground for those affected by racism. It is easy to become complacent if we don’t have a real understanding of what racism is doing to our society.
Here are a few resources to get you started. There are so many options out there and this is a tiny sampling. Just like when we learn about anything else, reading widely helps us better understand the topic. Please don’t limit yourselves to these. And don’t stop when the media cycle moves on to whatever the next horrible 2020 event is. Scientists will figure out COVID-19. We have to figure out how to fix our country.
Presidents go first: Obama’s open letter on Medium
The Obama Foundation
National Museum of African American History and Culture’s “Being Antiracist” Guide
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Teaching Tolerance: for educators wanting to learn how to discuss tolerance
There is some overlap, but each one has unique resources as well.
Vox’s Article “What It Means to be Anti-Racist” (resource links in the text)
Buzzfeed’s expansive guide “Resources for White Allies Fighting Racism”
Manifold Studios Anti-Racism Resources & Organizations list, including a webinar list.
Katie Couric’s “A Detailed List of Anti-Racism Resources” on Medium, including resources for children
DONATE AND SUPPORT
Lastly, if you are comfortably able to donate to organizations that support justice and equality for people of color or businesses owned by people of color, this is another way to help. Times are difficult and wallets are thin for many people. If you are lucky enough to have something to spare, awesome! If not, the ways above are no cost.* Some resources:
115 Ways To Donate (by the New Yorker)
Apps to find businesses in your area
For Denver Peeps, some Denver Resources
Thank you for taking few minutes to read a modest contribution to this decisive moment in history.
Knowing history is important. Making history is imperative.
* Time is not free, of course. Nor are the wages potentially lost for time spent voting in states that don’t protect voters. This is another form of systemic racism and poverty discrimination. Apply the practices above to fight this issue as well!
Image Credit: by author, Michelle Keel. 2020
Great resources here! Thank you for compiling them & making it a little easier to take some kind of action