Times are rapidly changing. 2020 has not only involved international political tensions, wildfires and a global pandemic, but the ignition of activist movements across the United States. Young people especially have risen up to take action and vocalize their support for the hurt communities and marginalized voices of our era.
One of the most common ways to support a cause is by donating money; however, not everyone has the privilege or capability to provide monetary support.
Lack of funds should not be a limiter to activism. Making a change is not a one-track process. There is more than one way to be present, express your support and do your part.
Do your research.
Support with your time.
Take more than just a moment to educate yourself; willingly take the time to seek out the facts and learn how to wade through misinformation. Though it may seem minor, doing research is a way to prevent ignorance. It adds strength and support to your stance with facts and statistics.
That being said, ensure that you are researching from reliable sources. Not only should you check the reliability of your news source, but make sure to fact-check the information you obtain. Misinformation spreads faster online than the truth does; it is important that people are looking at the same set of facts, rather than a set of misconstrued statistics and out-of-context statements.
Furthermore, make sure to actively listen to marginalized voices — whether it be through reading articles, watching documentaries, examining case studies or opening up a book. Doing so provides perspective from a position that you otherwise may not understand and provides more insight into the cause you are fighting for.
Go to a protest.
Protests are a means to physically show up in support of your chosen cause.
Protesting has been a part of the United States’ history as a catalyst for change. The first amendment of the Constitution actually defends protesting, protecting not only freedom of speech but “the right of the people to peacefully assemble.”
Without protesting, there would not be a Boston Tea Party, or women’s suffrage, and we may still be operating under prejudiced “separate but equal” laws.
If you choose to protest, stay safe. Do a general background check on the protest’s organizers. Be mindful of your own rights. Have a plan for what to do if you are approached by law enforcement and be knowledgeable of any protesting regulations.
Furthermore, keep the risks of COVID-19 in mind and be aware of any local government-mandated regulations. Wear a mask to keep yourself and others safe. Take the necessary precautions to not put others’ health at risk while trying to push towards change and a better future.
Use your platform.
If protesting is not an option — whether it be due to COVID-19, distance, etc. — another space right at your fingertips lets your voice be heard.
Ninety percent of 18 to 29 year olds use at least one social media website. That means most of the said generation likely has their own space to post and share their own content as well as an audience to share such content with.
One does not have to be an influencer to influence if you take advantage of what you have. The digital space can be just as impactful as the physical, tangible space.
Use your own social media to uplift impacted communities. If you are from a position of privilege, or otherwise not part of a particular community, use your position to amplify marginalized voices. Share information. Educate others.
Show your support by showing and sharing what you believe in.
Use your resources.
Further seek out your options. For example, you can take action online.
Plenty of issues with petitions are in need of supporting signatures, and signing them doesn’t take long at all. Petitions demonstrate strength in numbers and showcase how many people are against/in support of the issue in question. In doing so, more people may recognize that the issue needs to be pushed to the forefront.
You can also email your government officials and take a grass-roots approach. Express your thoughts and urge for change. If you are unsure about what to say, email templates can be found online to make things a little easier.
In addition, people have taken advantage of YouTube to create video fundraisers, such as Studio Jibby’s “Watch to Donate to Black Lives Matter” for the BLM movement and haera shin’s “Donate by Watching This Video #SAVEYEMEN” for Yemen’s humanitarian crisis. These two videos in particular post receipts of their donations on their channel’s community tab, ensuring transparency in how much of the money is going towards said cause.
The Internet has resources and tools aplenty.
As this year is an election year, it is more important now than ever to go out and vote. Young people have the potential to push forth a great momentum: one in every ten eligible voters is said to be Generation Z, and Millenials are nearly tied in numbers behind the largest group, Baby Boomers.
Voting is a direct course of action. Who you vote for has a great range of impact, from the determination and appointment of the lifelong position that is a Supreme Court Justice, to local legislation and regulation regarding particular issues. Do not dismiss the opportunity to vote, especially when our generation makes up such a great amount of power.
A voice is a voice, no matter how small. If you find yourself hesitating because of your dislike towards a particular candidate, keep writer and activist Rebecca Solnit’s words in mind: “I think of voting as a chess move, not a valentine.” A vote is not a love letter; it is a move towards what course of action will be taken for the future to come.
Julien Margareth Padillo is a third-year Media & Culture major with a minor in Digital Marketing. JP913571@wcupa.edu