A lot of the conversations around activism have died down in mainstream media. But there is still a problem of racism and social injustice that needs to be addressed. Certainly, we can’t see widespread social change take effect immediately. Regardless of how much progress has been accomplished in the last year around the hard conversations about race, there’s still plenty of work to do. So, how, if we don’t have inflammatory remarks from upon high stoking conversations, do we continue to be active participants in reforming our society for the better? It’s tough. But here’s how I’m staying engaged and politically active.
I think that’s how Gen Z would put it? When the stories about microaggressions against people of color were revealed, many were shocked that these bad behaviors went unchecked. Yet, in our daily lives, we still find it difficult to stand up against sexist comments or ultimately racist jokes. This is just the start of where we need the work to be done.
This summer, I met a woman of color who made a flippant joke about understanding politics. When I asked if she was kidding, she quickly changed her tune to one of “contrition and self-reflection worthy of Mother Theresa”, and I realized that once it’s no longer trendy to be engaged, people quickly jump off the bandwagon. It’s called performative activism, and it’s not hard to spot. Those people are dangerous–as Hamilton would say, “If you stand for nothing Burr, what will you fall for?”.
Keeping vigilant and conscious is the only way to make a long-term impact. But now that the media isn’t spoon-feeding us tools and resources for staying engaged, it’s even more difficult to remember the hard-fought lessons we learned in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
But if you’re feeling lost, I’m not here to tell you where to donate or what hashtags to use. Instead, I’m here to remind you that if you are feeling lost, that it’s time to re-evaluate how you want to participate in this critical moment in history.
Your activism could be as simple as reading the news and staying aware of what’s actually happening in the world around you. Knowledge is power, and being able to intelligently speak on a subject allows you to educate not only yourself but also others around you. I love the New York Times app or the CBS news app. I love Minnesota Public Radio’s morning conversations with Kerri Miller.
Don’t like the news? What a luxury to be able to avoid it, but I understand that sometimes we don’t have the capacity to hear about more sad things. But choose a cause and follow-through on engaging with it. It’s free to like, post, share and save content on Instagram, which will help bring awareness to your audience and boost its place in the algorithm. I personally follow Jessica Yellin as great resources for important updates.
Not into posting on social media? Donations are ALWAYS welcome for various organizations. But make sure you research your organization to fully understand its mission. There are a lot of people taking advantage of uneducated engagement, and your dollars deserve to be spent where it counts.
Donations are tough because there are a lot of loopholes organizations can use to misuse your dollars. I truly believe that most organizations start out well-intentioned and then a few opportunists ruin it for everyone, but transparency has become important and I hope we can begin to hold people more accountable to their commitments.
We can’t all give money, and that’s okay! Your time and energy are more valuable than you think. Volunteering with an organization may seem like a small act, but it can make a huge difference to the organization. If you’ve got time to marathon Bridgerton, you’ve got time to volunteer. And don’t feel like you have to stand behind a booth or be hocking pamphlets. Some organizations just need people to move supplies or to do something as simple as formatting an email to their donors. You’d be surprised what kind of skills non-profits will treasure!
You may have hit your pandemic wall and it all feels like too much to process. I get that! I hit mine, too. I wrote about But just being aware that you may need to take time to take care of yourself is important if you want to remain in a strong mental and physical state of mind. You may not be protesting in the streets or sharing resources on Instagram every day, but you should be looking at ways to support the BIPOC community. Spending your time and money on creators who have been strategically placed at a disadvantage. Being outraged when you see the crimes committed against members of minority communities. Taking a stance without being prompted by a celebrity or influencer. Seek knowledge, know when to rest, and celebrate the possibility of a future where all people are valued equally.
We’re not done yet, but we’re working on it.