The Women’s March is over, and the numbers are still being tallied. However, it’s safe to say that a lot of people the world over went out into the streets and made their voices known. Whether or not you were one of those people, you’re now probably wondering: What’s next?
Now is the perfect time to seize the momentum and begin building. If you’re looking for some quick, effective ways you can make your views known, we’ve got your back. It’s easier than you’d think. Given only a few hours, you can achieve a lot. So let’s start achieving, step by step!
1. Take Stock of the Situation
The very first thing we need to do is pause. Take a deep breath and try to come to grips with the reality of the next four years. Not just the scary parts. We’re also talking policy. There are plenty of reasons to be scared, and plenty of reasons to fight. But if we’re going to make it count, we have to focus on policy. And that only comes from our local legislatures and from Washington D.C.
This is a good thing. There are plenty of people in Washington that have our back. Policy also takes time, and is increasingly visible. All of this means that if we yell loud enough, we can affect change.
So to sum it up: We need to make sure politicians know how we, the populous, feel. If we fill the airwaves with support or dissent, that will be reflected in our nation’s capital. To voice that support, we need avenues and we need visibility for the law as it’s made. Those are things we can help with — even without leaving the couch. This is doable!
2. Support Journalism
Outside of a Daredevil episode, most of us don’t think about journalism. But it has a long, long history of sticking accountability to politicians and providing the public with information. Especially at the local level, journalism can be a powerful tool against corruption and harmful policies. There’s more to say here, but John Oliver has a much better summary.
How can you help? This one’s easy: First become a member of your local newspaper. Quality journalism takes a lot of time, and therefore a lot of money. It’s no secret that print media has lost market share over the last decade. The New York Times has a much larger readership than your local, and every dime created through subscriptions helps the wheels turn.
Most local papers now have online versions that cost much less than their print counterparts. Even if it’s just $5 a year, you’re still supporting your village voice. Plus, you get to read the funnies again — a novel experience these days.
After you've done that, go ahead and pick a few national outlets to support: The New York Times has a $0.99 trial period, which seems like a good place to start. For other great journalistic outlets, The Pen Center has a list of high-integrity papers here. Given the current climate, supporting PBS and NPR is also a fantastic idea.
3. Support Politically Active Organizations
Journalism is a key part of change, but to truly create justice, we need policy makers within the system to get to work. This kind of activity takes a long time, and involves a lot of nitty-gritty details: Lobbying, going to court, supporting individuals damaged by the legal system, setting up financial trusts, etc. These things are necessary, and provide a rigid backbone for the changes we want.
Basically, we’re going to need organizations like those listed here. It takes man hours and expertise to create change within our government. Those changes also need ground support for those affected by bad policy. By donating money to organizations that do these things, you are directly helping to either affect change or fight injustice.
You really should consider donating even a small amount to Planned Parenthood. Ensuring the organization can continue to provide high-quality women’s healthcare is vital, and the current administration is doing everything it can to prevent it.
If you don’t have money to spare, you can still help. In many urban areas, organizations like the Human Rights Campaign and Planned Parenthood will canvas the street for signatures. Signing a petition is another way to send a message to your lawmakers, both local and federal.
You can also immediately donate your John Hancock by visiting the White House petitions site. Petitions reaching 100,000 signatures in 30 days require a response from the White House within 60. For more signature gathering, also be sure to check MoveOn.org
4. Call Your Congressional Representatives
Cabinet confirmation hearings are still going on, and things have often bounced between the wacky and the downright disconcerting. This makes for a good reason to call your members of congress. In a lot of ways, calling a congressional member about an issue is like voting. It gets the message across, and with enough voices, we can do incredible things.
If like most Americans you’re not sure where to start, check this handy guide from CivilRights.org. Before you call, check who your congressional representatives are, and be prepared to succinctly explain why you’re calling. You likely won’t reach your actual representative, but every call is noted and counted. Personal stories of policy impact are also often prioritized. Flooding phone lines in opposition to the repeal of the ACA, or the nomination of unqualified cabinet picks, can and will have an impact.
5. Start Learning Today, and Don’t Stop
In order to improve the lives of every American, we need a solid educational baseline. No matter who you are (PhD candidate or high school dropout) there’s always something new to learn. And in an era where hoaxes can spread virally, you bet your boots a little knowledge can go a long way.
To help yourself and others, start reading books, news outlets, and reputable online resources. Educating yourself and others is every bit as important as staying informed. Use free resources like Khan Academy to brush up on a wide range of topics. By arming yourself with the right cerebral toolset, you’ll find it easier to argue for common abstract problems: limiting climate change, promoting hybrid socialist-democratic economic systems, advocating universal healthcare, etc. A lot of these topics may sound scary, but with 10 minute’s reading a day, you’ll quickly find them a lot more manageable.
Finally, YouTube can also be a great place to learn new things. Shows like Crash Course offer socially conscious, fair, and fun analysis of history, physics, chemistry, philosophy, and video games.
If you’ve done as much as you can today, but you still want to help, take heart in the fact there’s one more option:
Basically, just sit on the couch with some Netflix.
By supporting art programs, watching independent films, and voicing a firm desire for better representation in the media, we can create a better world. CivilRights.org and NPR both have great resources on why the struggle for diversity in art is important.
How is Netflix and “chill” advocating for greater diversity in the arts? By supporting films that feature LBGT+ characters / plots, plays with minority casting, or books that have real, female characters, you’re sending a message to media companies that those things are desired. It all starts with numbers, though. Demand is already high, but by boosting it to unprecedented levels, we can make sure everyone in this country is guaranteed an inclusive culture.