Frederic Aurelien/Staff Writer
Everything there was to say about the murder of George Floyd has already been said, not only through words but through actions. That is, the actions of the people and the actions of the institutions that govern them. Now the urgent question remains what steps must we continue to take in order to see a long lasting change in this country as it pertains to civil rights and justice.
Well, there are several things we can all continue to do to aid the fight for human rights in America. Individually, these strategies may not always have as dramatic of an effect on the world as we would like them to, but when used in conjunction with one another, they have proven to be powerful tools in creating massive political and social movements for change.
Signing online petitions is very easy to do if you have a computer system and an internet connection, but because of this simplicity, many people question their actual effectiveness in producing any sort of change. Petitions happen to be a very powerful tool at the disposal of grassroots activist groups for a plethora of reasons — one of them being their ability to energize and even mobilize people towards a movement.
If an online petition gets enough traction, it will let media outlets know that there is enough public attention on an issue to do a story. This in turn will raise even more awareness of the issue and force people to confront the problem at a national level.
Not only do petitions function as a tool of raising awareness and putting pressure on political officials, but they can also build a list of people who are interested in said issues. With this list, organizers can encourage those individuals to take additional action and even raise money for their cause.
Second, engage in online volunteer work. Most grassroots organizations do not have nearly enough paid staffers to handle the volume of work they receive. Because of this, they rely on volunteers donating their time and energy to help them.
Whether it’s conducting research that will help the organization justify its legislative proposals, or spreading the word about the issues they want to tackle, any form of volunteering is of great help to any organization.
Third, donate. Donating money to an organization that you trust and believe in, helps not only to sustain these movements and their current abilities, but it also activates the latent potential within the group and its members. This will give them more resources to work with, helping them to expand their network and reach a wider audience.
Fourth, take to the streets! Join the protests going on in your community, or even organize one yourself! Demonstrations are powerful, but not just because they send signals to policymakers. Like petitions and donations, protests get people politically active, which is the most important trend we can hope to see in our society. Protests are a place that like-minded individuals can meet one another and possibly become allies that continue to build and fight together.
Last but not least, vote! Voting is us exercising our democratic right to quite literally participate in the shaping of our society. Voting for the president of the United States is always important, but voting in your local elections will directly affect the institutions that influence your life and the lives of those around you. There is no other level of government that is more responsible for the quality of your local schools, policing and public safety, rent costs, public housing and city jobs than the local government—which is why it’s so important that we become politically active in this arena.
I think it’s safe to say that In the past month alone we have made more gains towards equality and justice than we have in the last four years, and this is not because of the people in charge. Rather, it was because of a forced awakening within the people.
Cities across the country have already agreed to begin reallocating money from the budgets of police departments to social programs within the community, and the councilmembers for the city of Minneapolis have actually decided to go as far as disbanding the police force entirely.
Policymakers in California are attempting to ban the use of chokeholds, rubber bullets and teargas. In Louisville, where Breonna Taylor was murdered, they are attempting to ban the no-knock warrants that allowed officers to barge in her home without warning and shoot her eight times as she slept.
There’s a great myth that progress takes “time,” and to paraphrase the late Martin Luther King Jr., “time” almost always means “never.”
The truth is, change will only take place when the people stand up together and decide that their society can function better than it currently is. That is why I urge you to continue raising awareness on social media, signing petitions, donating money, protesting and preparing to vote for not only national elections, but local ones too.
The civil rights movement of the 1960s took several years of American people marching and fighting for what’s right. Now is our time in history to continue the struggle for equality by fighting for the most vulnerable of us.
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