10 Ways to Advocate If Your Health Means You Can’t Protest
One thing has become (even more) evident over the past few months: We need change. Whether considering police brutality, racism, inadequate healthcare, digital divides, mental health care access, poverty or climate change, it is clear that we have a lot of work to do. Some of our leaders have demonstrated they are not ready to step up and get it done so it is up to us.
If you are like me, protests aren’t realistic. I hate crowds, I have anxiety over the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and I have two small children to care for. But there is still a lot we can do to help make change, regardless of the cause that you are passionate about.
1. Start with one person.
People listen to those they know. Have a genuine and personal conversation with someone. Think about the influence that people have on you. People are also more likely to feel obligated to help the cause if you are personally contacting them and highlighting what they can do.
2. Tell your story and listen to others’ stories.
I strongly believe that personal stories will be the catalyst for change. When you share your story you are putting a face to an issue. You are appealing to those you know to recognize that those they care about are impacted by it. If you do not have a story connected with a cause (and even if you do) listen to others’. The only way we can truly understand other perspectives is by listening and learning.
3. Seek out new experiences.
One of the most valuable assignments I was given during graduate school was a cultural immersion project. For this project I selected to volunteer in an urban school district. This taught be more about poverty, racism, education gaps and food desserts than any course could. My peers volunteered at homeless shelters, attended religious ceremonies, and attended Native American ceremonies. Immerse yourself in the issue you are advocating for and you will move toward understanding.
4. Fundraise or donate.
No matter the cause, there is somewhere you can donate. Research the fund you are donating to if you are donating money and investigate where the money is being spent. How much is going toward the cause versus administrative costs? If you can’t give money, do they need items?
5. Write to your legislator.
Find your representatives at the senate and congress websites. You have federal and state representatives, so be sure to get to know them all. You can write, call or visit in person. A quick tip: don’t be discouraged if you speak with an aide. Legislators depend on their aides to tell them what their constituents want.
6. Attend a town hall, Board of Education (BOE) meeting, etc.
Many meetings will give you a chance to speak in public forum. Even if you do not have the chance or you are hesitant to do so, your presence can send a powerful message. An added bonus is you may learn some things that help you fight for your cause!
I cannot emphasize this enough. Do not just wait for presidential elections. Vote in every election and do your research on the candidates. Don’t just jot down the names that you see on the signs in yards.
8. Call people out.
This can be hard, especially when they are family members or friends. When someone makes a negative comment about someone being “psycho” or “crazy,” correct them. Maybe just point out no they are just struggling right now. If someone says “all lives matter,” emphasize the need for society to focus on minorities because of the ingrained history (and present) of abuse.
9. Get creative.
Don’t like speaking? Not feeling confident speaking with your legislator? Use your gifts to spread the message the way you can. Blog, write, do art, sculptures, act. Whatever you feel empowered to do.
10. Support businesses related to the cause.
Use businesses that sell eco-friendly products, businesses owned by women, businesses owned by people who are Black or Hispanic. Do your research on what local charitable events various businesses support. Maybe the car dealer donates to the mental health awareness walk, or the pizza shop sponsors a baseball team.
Getty Images photo via fizkes