I woke up this morning to the sound of buzzing. The group text I had been engaged in the night before had started promptly at 6:00 am MST with my east coast friends who were now starting their day.
As the hazy morning came in to clarity, so did the reality of last night and the decision our country made. I rolled away from the phone as it continued to persistently vibrate on my nightstand, trying to fall back to sleep. But as the minutes ticked by the buzzing intensified and I finally gave up.
I picked up my phone and cracked open one, squinting eye, blinded by the sudden light emanating from my screen in the otherwise dark room. I started to read what I expected to be more texts of shock and despair, but what I found was the opposite.
I found determination and action.
These amazing women who had been up half the night worrying about their brothers and sisters of color and the message this election sends to them about their value. About those struggling under the weight of a criminal justice system that is designed for them to fail, and the millions of women who just heard that a man can brag about assaulting them without consequences. About the LGBTQ community who already are at risk for suicide and widespread discrimination, and about immigrants and refugees who dreamed of a future free of fear only to find that America is just as driven by fear as everywhere else.
I woke up to women who were disappointed but determined not to give up. Who were brainstorming things we could do to combat a future that we cannot stand behind. Who realized that our country needs our support, our time, our money, our talents, and our voices more than ever, and I want to share some of their ideas.
- There are free legal clinics that provide consultations for people who are seeking to be in this country legally, a process that is incredibly long, complex, and expensive, consider supporting them with money or volunteer hours.
- Learn a foreign language and become friends with people from other countries and cultures.
- It’s safe to say that most refugees are not feeling particularly welcome right now, volunteer with a refugee resettlement agency, to help them acclimate to a new culture and country.
- Tell your political leaders you want to accept more refugees for resettlement.
- Teach English as a Second Language.
- Give a refugee a job if you own your own business or are a hiring manager.
- Donate goods and money to organizations like the International Rescue Committee, Catholic Relief Services, and Deseret Industries that help refugees.
Sexual assault response:
- Many hospitals and non-profits have volunteers who sit and talk with assault victims so they don’t have to be alone in the hospital or police station as they report their rape. Consider getting involved there.
- Volunteer at a local women’s shelter or donate goods that they need.
- Lobby your local and national political leaders for stronger laws against perpetrators and hold the police force accountable for pursuing and prosecuting cases of sexual assault.
- Stop blaming the victim.
- Lean in. Don’t be afraid. We need women to aspire for more and to be successful. We need more positive examples of female leadership.
- Mentor women at a local school or community center. Big Brothers & Big Sisters is a national organization that can pair you with struggling youth.
- If you’re involved with a community organization or religious congregation, consider having a Career Day for the girls to show them what they can dream up and become.
Freedom of the press:
- Subscribe to a newspaper, or several. Give subscriptions as a Christmas present. Newspapers are going to be attacked in the coming years for reporting the news in the way the President of the United States doesn’t like, and the only way to combat that is to read what they write and to help them make a profit.
- Read a newspaper that represents “the other side’s” perspective. We need to better understand each other over the next four years because this polarization of America isn’t working.
Civil justice system:
- Call your political leaders and police department to find out what they’re going to do to decrease police brutality and numbers in our prison system.
- Lobby for more training on inherent biases and de-escalation practices for law enforcement.
- Volunteer at a half-way house.
- Learn about other religions (especially Islam) and worship together.
- Most religious organizations value service. Rather than serving in your individual silos, seek opportunities to serve side-by-side.
- Talk about shared values and beliefs.
- Support legislation that establish incentives to decrease greenhouse gases.
- Take public transportation, use solar power, buy an electric car.
- Limit your waste.
Organizations to volunteer with/assist:
- Rescue.org – supporting refugees
- American Civil Liberties Organization: https://www.aclu.org/
- Local women’s organization
- Showing Up for Racial Justice: http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/about
- Local youth group – Boys and Girls Club, Community activity center, girl scouts, etc.
- Generally help your community with AmeriCorps
- Campaign Zero to end police violence: http://www.joincampaignzero.org/#vision
- Council of American Islam Relations: https://www.cair.com/about-us/volunteer-with-us.html
- Visit any of these immigration organizations: http://www.shusterman.com/immigrationorganizations/
- Utah homeless youth OUTreach centers (they especially focus on LGBT youth): http://www.outreachresourcecenters.org/
- Bustle: How to be an Advocate