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Over the last couple of weeks, it feels like all people are talking about is voting. Personally, my twitter feed was completely taken over by messages telling people to vote. But let me be real with you for a second. Voting is undeniably important, but it’s the bare minimum of political participation. So yeah, voting is great, but you can’t let it be the only thing you do. There are so many ways to affect our political situation and although they might take a little more effort than voting, they are sure to positively impact underprivileged individuals and communities in our country.

There are basically two categories of things you as an individual can do to help out marginalized communities in America. You can work to actually impact the government itself and reach out to government officials in hopes that they will pass legislation that helps people or you can go to into communities and work directly to help people yourself.

First, let’s break down some of the ways you can try to directly impact the government. Protesting is one way to make your voice heard. If something in the government is bothering you, get together with a group of like-minded individuals and get loud! When politicians see what the people care about, they may feel obligated to accommodate those interests in some way.

Town hall meetings are another great way to get government officials to take citizen’s interests seriously. They allow groups of citizens to get together and directly speak to elected officials. This way, you can bring up any concerns in person, assuring they will be heard.

If you can’t meet your representatives in person, there are other ways to contact them. Calling is generally the best way to contact your reps, because unlike an email or letter, you cannot be ignored. When important issues come up to vote, call the people from your area that are voting for them and make sure you stress how important the issue is to you, and what way you hope they will vote. Hearing this personal testimony from their constituents may be enough to swing a politician’s vote.

Directly reaching out to the government is a start, but the government, whether it’s controlled by Democrats or Republicans, ignores the needs of many Americans. When the government decides not to help people then it becomes our job to help each other.

One of the groups most ignored by the government is homeless Americans. In America, there are close to 600,000 people who spend the night outside, without a home. Although political figures have ignored the problems of homeless Americans for a long time, there is a lot you can do to help them yourself. Think about donating money to organizations that help homeless people or if you can, donate your time to volunteer programs yourself.

In general, there are a lot of groups that need help, but there are also a lot of things that you can do to help them. You can look for ways to reach out to kids in low-income areas, donate to trans organizations, donate or even work with Black Lives Matter, educate yourself about how the government is actively stopping people from voting – the possibilities are endless!

Now, none of this is to say that voting isn’t a powerful tool to change America, but especially with rampant voter suppression in this country, it is not the only or even the most effective way to make America a place that we can all be proud to live in. Don’t just wait for the government to change things, if you’re able, get out there and do it yourself! You might be surprised by how much you can get done.

 

Emma Hynes

Cincinnati '22

University of Cincinnati - History and Political Science major Activist with a focus on lgbt people and people in poverty. Trans inclusive feminist. She/Her pronouns
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