Those who are willing to risk physical harm or arrest can contribute in one way, but there are many other critical ways you can get involved
With protests against police brutality and racial injustice erupting across the country, many people are wondering how they can get involved besides being on the front lines.
There are many reasons that people don’t feel safe going to protests - they’re immunocompromised, have a disability, are undocumented, are part of a group more likely to be arrested or suffer physical violence, or are just extra sensitive to the suffering of others.
It can feel like you’re not supporting the cause if you don’t show up to the protests, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Movements need people of different strengths and abilities; we compliment each other. Those who are willing to risk physical harm or arrest can contribute in one way, but there are many other critical ways you can get involved. Here are the top ten:
Provide Support: Give rides to and from the protests (make sure everyone is wearing masks and keep the car windows down to minimize risk), lend an ear to friends on the front lines who want to discuss their experiences, make meals for friends and organizers, sew masks
Donate: Supporting bail out funds is potentially life-saving in the time of Covid. There are also many fantastic organizations locally and nationally led by people of color working on these issues.
Call: Call your local DA and ask them to drop charges against protesters, call your local and state representatives and demand that they implement meaningful reforms
Campaign: Get involved with local efforts to elect representatives - including District Attorneys and City Council members - who support reform
Amplify: Share content on social media from Black activists, intellectuals, and organizations
Buy: Support Black-owned businesses, both locally and nationally. Many local vegan Facebook pages are compiling lists of POC-owned vegan businesses.
Talk: Have conversations with friends and family about these issues. It can be tense to have conversations about controversial topics but it’s necessary to discuss these issues with those closest to you.
Educate Yourself: Read books like The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo (list of anti-racism books here), watch documentaries like 13th, listen to podcasts like 1619.
Volunteer: Figure out what your interests and skills are. Racial justice is a complex and multifaceted issue, so assess what component speaks to you most (i.e. criminal justice reform, police accountability, economic opportunity, housing policy, direct aid, etc.) and then find an organization working on that issue. Then ask yourself: Do you want to volunteer sporadically, or at the same time each week? Do you prefer in-person volunteer opportunities or remote? How much time do you have to dedicate? Do you have special skills you can contribute? It’s useful for an organization if you can come to them and say, “I’d like to volunteer web design skills for 10 hours a month” or “I’d like to volunteer for two hours every week sorting groceries at the food pantry” rather than just saying, “I want to volunteer” and leaving them to figure out what roles might be a good fit for you.
Self-Care: When you’re overwhelmed, you can’t show up to help others. If you are feeling stressed, learn how to support yourself. It’s especially important right now not to burden friends of color, since they are already coping with so much. If you are feeling anxious or emotional, keep a journal, practice self-compassion, listen to music, exercise, meditate, or engage in other activities that leave you feeling refreshed and focused.
Katie Cantrell is the Founder & Board Co-Chair for the Factory Farming Awareness Coalition
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