5 Easy Ways to Activism Without Leaving Your House
Guest Blog Post by Sara Ray
It's been a year, amirite?
Oh wait, it’s been two years. (Time, what does it even mean?)
One silver lining seems to be that the explosion of protests and social justice movements starting in 2020 woke a lot of people up to the realities of racism, inequity and injustice in America.
In Portland, OR where I am, we saw more than 100 consecutive days of protests, with police violence and national news coverage that made Portland look like a war zone.
All this in the middle of a global pandemic that made it even more dangerous to be in the middle of a crowd.
It was hard to know what to do. Did I go to the protests, as I would in a non-pandemic situation, or did I stay home to prevent the spread of Covid-19? I ultimately decided not to risk it, a decision that was hard but right for me.
That left the question, what can I do? How do you practice at-home activism?
Here’s what I came up with:
This might feel like the easiest way to support a cause, and can sometimes feel a little like a cop-out. I mean, how hard is it to give money–the real activists are out in the streets!
I felt that.
But money is what lets organizations actually do their work. And it's often what they need the most.
The important thing is that you vet your organization of choice. Where does the money actually go? Is it directly applied to people or programs in need?
Do your research and make sure that your money is going where you want it to. Look for transparency in funding distribution, examples of how the funding has made concrete change, and how the organization is structured.
Often you’re better off finding a smaller, local organization to donate to. Smaller organizations are often more transparent about funding, and you can see in your own community how your donation is helping.
If you want to go broader with a national organization, do a quick search to see if any red flags come up. Has this organization been called out for not doing what they say they are? What are people saying about this organization?
Ask around–you want your donation to do the most good.
- Spread the word.
We’re all on social media, let’s use it for something good. Making a point to follow, like, and share creators that are talking about social justice issues is a great way to amplify the message.
The unfortunate reality is that BIPOC content is often hidden by algorithms, and is flagged for removal more often than white creators. The more engagement a creator has, the less likely they are to be shut out. Also, making an effort to follow people that have a different lived experience than you is a fantastic way to educate yourself and identify blindspots in your own thinking.
The danger here is that you’ll be preaching to the choir. Most of us surround ourselves with like-minded people. If you’re sharing on social media, it’s probably a good bet that your friends have seen the same content. Eventually, you’re just sharing in a circle!
Why not think outside the Instagram post? Finding ways to share content with people who may not look for it or otherwise see it can be tricky. An eye-catching infograph could be just the thing to help explain to your dad what police abolition looks like. That funny Tik Tok might help your friend see what you mean about the minimum wage.
Take what you find and share it!
- Volunteer your time and talents.
Maybe monetary donations aren’t in the cards for you right now. What about donating your brain? (Not really, obviously–unless you’re just that committed.)
If you’re a great organizer, grant writer, or webmaster you can guarantee there is a need for that kind of volunteer work.
Can you talk anyone into anything? Working some phones for fundraising is for you! Are you the fastest envelope stuffer around? We need those hands! Most organizations need people to help run the logistical side of things, and chances are you have a skill that they’re looking for.
Activism doesn’t just mean knocking on doors–it also means calling politicians, keeping accounts, and contacting donors.
If you have an organization that you’d love to support, ask them what they need. A couple hours a week volunteering from home could make all the difference.
- Make it a party.
Get your friends together and make a bigger impact!
Activism is a great group activity. Like a book club for social justice. Get a group and pick a cause to work for.
It could be as simple as pooling your money into a bigger donation. Or working as a group to reach out to more people. How about a phone banking party? Or a coat drive? Maybe you pick a different cause every month!
Shout out your group activities on social media–you might inspire others to take action too!
- Check yourself.
One of the most important parts of activism is checking your own bias and privilege. We all come to the table with different internalized judgements. The hard part is recognizing and unlearning them.
You have great intentions. You want to contribute to change and bring good into the world. But are you going about it in the right way?
Before you send that Facebook post out into the world, take a pause and examine it. Are you speaking for a group that you’re not a part of? Are there assumptions that you’ve made that might not be true? Are you using patronizing or condescending language?
We’re all going to mess up.
Posting a well-meaning but tone-deaf observation is pretty much a right of passage. If/when someone calls you out on it, check your reaction. Defensiveness doesn’t help us learn, so take a breath and ask for help to understand.
It’s easy to get discouraged about the state of the world right now. And it’s hard to know how to help.
What you need to remember is that there are so many ways to make a difference. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big gesture or one phone call.
Doing what you can is enough.