Protests and demonstrations may be prominent in warmer months, but there are many ways to continue the fight for your rights.
MICHIGAN—From protesting against police brutality and fighting a global pandemic to mobilizing voters online and staying calm and engaged during a historic and hotly contentious election, this year has taught Michiganders that there are endless ways to get involved in the issues that matter most to them beyond dropping off a ballot.
Along with the mass realization that the status quo is no longer acceptable to most Americans has come a desire to find different ways to push for change—and in a pandemic, no less.
Cooler temperatures may have reduced the number of outdoor gatherings, protests, and community meetings, but work is still being done indoors to continue advocating for reforms across a variety of important issues.
Read on for ways you can fight for change for yourself, your neighbors, and your neighborhood in Michigan.
1. Attend Meetings Online
Many groups have suspended in-person gatherings due to the rapidly dropping temperatures and rapidly rising coronavirus cases—but there is still work to be done.
Most advocacy groups you may be interested in joining have websites and social media pages. Follow them regularly for information on online and socially distanced meetings. For example, Detroit Will Breathe, a local grassroots organization formed to stop police brutality, has suspended its nightly march through Detroit’s streets to keep everyone safe—and warm—but the group still meets regularly online.
2. Write Your Local and State Leaders
Whether email or snail mail is your thing, your elected officials want to hear from you. Any Michigander can send correspondence to a lawmaker, whether they voted for them or not.
Use a search engine like Google to look up who your local leaders are. You may need to include your address to be sure you are being connected to the leader in charge of your area. Their official website will have contact information for both regular and electronic mail.
Don’t forget your stamp!
3. Donate Supplies
Many organizations and community leaders are in need of basic supplies to keep their efforts going, but there’s no need to guess.
If you’re able to donate supplies, reach out to them and ask what they need and the best way to get it to them. Every little bit helps.
4. Attend a Protest or Demonstration
Public gatherings may not top your list of things to do during a global pandemic, but there are ways to safely protect yourself if you choose to attend any in-person demonstration:
- Wear a mask, layers of clothing, and comfortable shoes
- Drink plenty of water
- Charge your cell phone
- Plan your exit route
- Bring a friend
- Write important phone numbers on your body in permanent marker
Your fellow protesters will appreciate your willingness to share signage. Remember that each piece of cardboard or poster board can have a different slogan on each side.
5. Donate Money
Money is a necessary part of any social justice movement, but often the most scarce resource. Consider donating to a local nonprofit or grassroots organization advancing human rights if you’re able.
Donations are typically tax-deductible, so be sure to get a receipt.
6. Spread the Word
Social justice movements are only as big as their network. The more they grow, the more powerful they can become and the more change they can affect.
If you come across an organization or group that you want to support, first research the work they do and the people who lead. If their work checks out, and the values and goals align with the changes you’d like to see in your community, consider sharing their information with your friends, family, and co-workers who may also want to support it.
Why Get Involved?
The 2020 election showed Michiganders that voting is one small part of our responsibility as Americans to be involved in upholding a strong democracy. Once leaders have been elected, they need to be held accountable by their constituents. Whether it’s through supporting a local group doing that work, or taking action yourself to remind leaders about their responsibilities in advancing social good, all of the tools are there for you to get involved.
Keep going, Michigan.