Protesting is a way for individuals and communities to make their voices heard and alter political agendas. If you are interested in participating in protests and other forms of public demonstrations, review the sections below. If you are interested in other ways to engage in social justice work, the flowchart includes examples of both immediate and long-term actions you can take to combat systemic racism.
- Stay safe and healthy during protests
- It is possible that your protest will be met with force from the police or others. For safety during protest, Amnesty International compiled a list of safety tips during protests.
- The large gathering of people during protests and demonstrations also increases the risk of contracting coronavirus. NPR provides a helpful graphic of ways to reduce the risk of contracting and spreading coronavirus. Here is another NPR article on how to keep your family or housemates safe when you return home from a protest.
- You may also want to consider legal and digital implications relating to protesting.
- How to find protests
- Social media platforms are a great way to stay up-to-date on upcoming protests.
- Search “protest” or “march” along with keywords and dates relating to the theme of the event.
- Find activist and advocacy groups in your local areas.
- Local activist groups are the powerhouses behind organizing efforts, having the knowledge and expertise for mobilizing passionate advocates for a cause. Consider joining the mailing lists of your favorite local organizations to stay up-to-date with protests and essential information on the issues you care about.
- Search for local protest calendars.
- Many major cities have dedicated resources that compile lists of local protests. To find some of the marches and activist events happening in major cities around the country, google “protest/activist calendar in [your location]”.
- Social media platforms are a great way to stay up-to-date on upcoming protests.
If you have the financial capacity to make a donation – that’s great! There are many organizations and campaigns that need donations to continue their work. If this is an activity you choose, there are a few things to keep in mind.
- First, make sure you are donating to a cause or candidate you believe in. Research the organizations or the individuals and make sure their values align with your own.
- Second, make sure the organization is reputable. Here’s some good information on how to do that.
- Finally, if you are planning to give to a crowd-sourced fund (e.g., GoFundMe), make sure the recipients are people you trust to do the work they say they will do.
Political participation and civic engagement are cornerstones of democracy and one of the most effective ways to create institutional change. There are a wide range of activities within these categories. Below are a few examples.
- Civic engagement in limited time
- If you have just a few minutes, signing petitions for causes that align with your values is a great way to make a difference! Every signature matters, as it adds legitimacy to the campaign and demonstrates to key stakeholders that the cause is important to your community. However, before signing any petition, you should thoroughly read the mission statement and the demands. Change.org is a great platform where you can search for petitions.
- If you are eligible, voting is a direct way to make a difference and have your voice heard. Check here to see if you are registered to vote. If you haven’t yet, please register; it will only take about 2 minutes.
- Civic engagement if you have some time
- If you have a decent amount of time on your hands, then you can consider writing or calling your legislator, local officials and even prosecutors or attorneys general.
- First, you should find out who your legislators, local officials and even prosecutors and attorneys general are if you don’t know already. You can also find their contact information on the linked websites.
- Second, you should learn about their policies and legislation. Votesmart is a bipartisan effort to compile unbiased facts about American politicians. In addition, Campaign Zero tracks federal, state, and local legislation addressing police violence.
- Finally, with the knowledge and research, you can make a difference directly through voting and contacting them to voice your opinions. If you choose to email the legislators, it is best to write your own emails even if they are short. Because if you simply put your name in an email template, it can easily be filtered out by the system.
- In addition to contacting and voting for politicians, you can directly get involved in campaigns of politicians whose policies and ideologies align with yours.
- Civic engagement if you are up for anything
- If you are up for anything, consider community organizing. Community organizing is the process of building power through involving community members in identifying shared issues and developing culturally-relevant solutions.
- Even in your own community, bringing together a diverse group of people to achieve a common goal is a difficult task, which requires a variety of social skills and great investments of time and other important resources. It is advisable to utilize the services of an expert community organizer to assist in getting your neighborhood or community organization started.
- There are many guides for community organizing online, but here are a couple: Life cycle of an organizing campaign from University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban & Regional Affairs, a step-wise guide from the Global Freedom Movement.
Contributing to your community through service can be an incredibly meaningful experience. But service work and/or volunteering requires some background work, just like applying for a job. The first step, no matter how much time you have to give, is to identify an organization that is doing the kind of service work that interests you and aligns with your values. Do you want to help clean up neighborhoods impacted by arson and looting? Do you want to help provide food, clothing, and essential products (e.g., household supplies and personal hygiene items) to those in need? Do you want to support professionals working for racial justice?
After identifying an organization that is doing the work you care about, the next step is to identify the skills you have to offer. Construction experience, cleaning know-how, technology skills, and organizational skills are all examples of things an organization might be looking for in a volunteer. Most nonprofits are stretched very thin, so helping them identify where and how you can help them will increase your value.
Service if you have some time:
- Look for one time opportunities, like filling in a shift at a food shelf, or taking a shift cleaning.
- Collect donations – money or essential products (see examples above) – for an organization you support but that doesn’t need in-person volunteers right now.
- Find out if there are tasks that can be done once in a while – like a monthly email to donors, or a weekly social media post – and offer to help with these tasks.
Service if you are up for anything:
- Explore youth mentorship opportunities. Some national examples include Big Brothers, Big Sisters, and the Y – but there are likely lots of local programs in your area.
- Find out what the organization needs! Have they had to cut staff due to the economic situation? Are there regular tasks (e.g., administrative activities) that you could help with?
Self-education is essential to dismantling systemic racism. Additionally, self-education can provide individuals an opportunity to unpack their own biases and find ways to actively engage in social justice work.
- Self-education in a few minutes
- Articles and shorter podcasts are great ways to engage in self-education if you find a few minutes on your hands. For instance, the articles, videos, and podcasts in the 10 minutes/day section in the document of resources curated by Autumn Gupta is a great place to start. There also is a great collection of articles in this document recommended by OIIL, and a list of podcasts from the library.
- Self-education if you have some time
- If you have some time, then documentaries, movies, and longer podcasts are wonderful resources for you. For instance, the movies, documentaries and podcasts in the 25minutes/day and 40minutes/day section in the document of resources curated by Autumn Gupta is a great place to start. In addition, there is a collection of movies and TV series in this document recommended by OIIL, and on this website from the library.
- Self-education if you are up for anything
- Books are possibly the best way to educate ourselves if we find the time to sit down and read. The list of books in this document recommended by OIIL or this list from the library are a good place to start. Ibram X. Kendi, the author of How to Be an Antiracist, also recommended a list of anti-racist books.