How to Be an Activist Every Day
6 very real, very important things you can do to make a difference.
If you’ve never been to a protest before, I highly recommend them. There’s nothing like standing shoulder to shoulder with people who are as passionate and committed to a cause as you are, chanting and marching together to work toward a shared goal. That said, I can also see why they’re not for everyone—especially right now, as safety concerns around Covid-19 are still a very real, very scary part of all of our lives. The good news is, you don’t need to attend a protest in order to be an activist. There are countless ways to make an impact without leaving your house, and some of them are very sustainable—so you can continue to do the work and make a difference in perpetuity. Here are 6 ways you can weave activism into your daily life.
Want more M Dash?
Understand What Allyship Really Is (and What it Isn’t)
We recently talked to diversity, equity, and inclusion expert Paula Edgar about how companies and colleagues can best support Black coworkers. She said a lot of great things, but something that really stuck with me was the idea that “white people should not expect kudos or acknowledgment for their outreach, outrage, or advocacy.” If part of your activism or allyship is performative (such as posting on Instagram every time you make a donation), it might be time to think about who you’re doing this for and why. Now is the time to center Black voices, which can mean taking a step back.
Doing this personal work will help make the activism you do in the future more meaningful—not just for you, but also for the communities you hope to serve.
Set Up Passive Donations
Passive might seem like the antithesis of activism, but when it comes to donating money, it can make a huge difference. Yes, you can donate a big chunk of change right now, but it’s especially helpful to nonprofits and other organizations if you set up a recurring monthly donation. That way, they can figure out their budgets for the year and plan ahead. It doesn’t have to be a lot of money to start; just donating regularly will make a big difference. If you’re looking for places to donate, we have a few suggestions.
Get an Accountability Partner
The momentum a lot of us feel right now is palpable. Chances are, you’re having conversations with friends, family, and coworkers that you weren’t having two months ago (and your Instagram feed probably looks a lot different, too). But that might change as the news cycle redirects our attention, so we need to be prepared. Linking up with someone who can help you stay focused and committed to your goals can be incredibly helpful. You can schedule weekly check-ins with this person, set donation benchmarks, and bounce ideas off each other to stay motivated. After all, the last thing any of us want to do is “go back to normal.”
Turn Education into Action
Yes to reading. Yes to book clubs. Yes to watching movies like Ava Duvernay’s 13th. But that can’t be all you do. Take what you’re learning, and start some uncomfortable conversations. Systemic racism permeates every aspect of American life. Look at the leadership at your company or the community board that makes decisions in your town, and commit to speaking up. Write letters to your representatives, show up to town hall meetings, and do something tangible with your new, very powerful knowledge.
This suggestion is a no brainer, but it cannot be stressed enough. If you are anti-racist, you need to vote up and down the ballot for candidates who are anti-racist, too. While there is no one database to tell you if a candidate is anti-racist, the majority of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement, with politicians following suit. An easy litmus test is to search and see if they have spoken on this issue and what they’ve had to say about it.
If Covid-19 makes you understandably nervous to vote in person, look into the absentee ballot options in your state. Vote.org has a great state-by-state breakdown of all upcoming elections and protocol. Vote in the primaries, vote in hyperlocal elections, and of course, vote in November. We’ll see you there.
Do What You Know
This one is easy. Take your finely-tuned work skills and use them for good. According to Woman of the Week, Blair Imani, this is the time to pick a lane. “If you have spent your whole career doing marketing for corporate entities, don’t drop everything and become a grassroots activist,” says Imani. “Yes, there are some scenarios where that might work out. But it’s more effective to look at your skill set and where you’ve created a sphere of influence around you and focus on how you can bend that arc towards justice. Maybe look at how you can use that marketing experience to get those corporations to do more social justice work.” Whatever your skill set is, there’s a way you can use it to make a difference.