While we're all processing the results of the recent presidential election, many of us are talking about views on social media. A recent study from The Body Shop's #INOURHANDS campaign suggests that Millennials care about issues, but take action less often than the generations before us. But although our current climate might seem so awful that attempting to do anything about it feels futile, even starting by taking small actions to enact change can help put us on the road to a better future.
The #INOURHANDS survey found that, out of 1,100 people between the ages of 18 and 25, 68 percent of respondents talk about issues they care about online; however, the percentage of people who "act" on their beliefs is much smaller: Only 36 percent actually took action, and only 23 have ever protested in the streets.
Of course, it's fair to point out that talking about politics, even on Facebook, can be useful. While arguments are typically not a good use of time, interacting with people who are stretching your mind and talking about different perspectives can be a very good thing indeed. The Internet also gives us a ton of resources in terms of research, documentaries, histories, and so forth, so we can enrich our minds as we go.
But "internet activism" is only part of the bigger picture overall. We all have different amounts of time we can donate to activism, along with different abilities and resources, and that's OK! What works for one person doesn't have to be the standard for everybody else. But taking even a few small actions beyond carrying out a general discourse can make a big difference. While definitely not exhaustive, the following suggestions might help you ease your way into activism on a regular basis that goes beyond Facebook.
Join Your Local Community Space
Yes, meeting new people can be scary, but it can also be really positive! Depending on your particular interests, find local community groups and find what is going on in your area. Bake sales? Open mic nights? Hosting a 5k? You can always bring a friend!
Volunteer With Planned Parenthood Or Other Reproductive Health & Rights Organizations
A lot of people have been talking about Planned Parenthood in the conversation about our access not only to birth control and abortions, but also simply to essential healthcare services. If you're passionate about women's health, now is a great time to volunteer with PP or your local clinic. Even if you can't donate money, donating time or skills can make a huge impact.
Volunteer With LGBTQ Youth
If your area has some sort of community space for LGBTQ youth, definitely reach out and see how you can help! Some places have mentorship programs that can connect you with a queer kid or teen. Some spaces also love when people from the community come give talks about their profession, resume building, applying to college, and the standard stuff youth needs to know. Check out the CDC's list of LGBTQ youth resources for more info. Even if you're not LGBTQ, allies are important!
Read Diverse Books
Sometimes activism can happen simply through your own enrichment. Seek out diverse media for the news, but also seek out diverse books. Whether it's memoir, nonfiction, fiction, or poetry, look for books that deal with intersectional themes and perspectives that can help open your mind to the complexities of the human experience.
Call Your Representatives
You can call your local and state representatives and tell them how you feel about policy and what changes you'd like to see happen in the future. If you don't have phone access, you can usually email, too. It only takes a few minutes — but those few minutes can make a big difference
Donate To #TransLawHelp
#TransLawHelp is one of my personal favorite resources that have sprung up since the election. Started on Twitter, the 30-year-old software engineer who created it has now built an entire website dedicated to connecting transgender people with lawyers who are donating time and money to help people get their legal affairs in order before Trump takes office. So, for example, donating money could help a low-income transperson file for a name change or buy a new passport.
Support Minority-Owned Businesses
Even though we all run into major chain stores at least some of the time out of convenience, it's really good to get into the mindset of supporting local and minority-owned businesses. Supporting businesses owned or run by marginalized people, for example, helps businesses stay open and spread popularity by word of mouth.
If these don't seem to be in abundance in your area, remember the Internet! Etsy is often a goldmine for supporting diverse small business.
Let People Know You're Here To Talk & Ready To Listen
This one sounds simple — because it is! Letting people in your life that you're available to talk, listen, and offer support is totally a form of everyday activism that can go a long way. Extending this offer to people who may be personally impacted by changes in policies under a Trump presidency is especially important right now.
A gesture doesn't have to be large to matter. As the saying goes, every little bit helps.
Images: Giphy (8)