With everything that's going on in the world, getting involved in activism and speaking out is more important than ever. However, actually getting involved can be hard to do. When most people think of activism, they think of that kid in high school that started three different nonprofits and start to freak out. On top of that, the pandemic has led to activism opportunities becoming extremely hard to find. But despite everything going on, activism does not have to be difficult at all! Here are a few (pandemic-safe) ways you can get involved:
- Educate Yourself
Before you can actually take action, the most important thing to do is to educate yourself on the issues and causes around you. You can do this through reading books and articles, watching Youtube videos, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, and so much more! One thing I've particularly loved is taking free online classes. There's a lot of them out there on so many different topics; I'm personally taking one on the history of police brutality and another on psychological first aid. Both are extremely informative and help me understand the causes I'm fighting for. If your university offers any similar online courses, they are definitely worth looking into and integrating into your curriculum! Even if it's just one or two, they’ll better enable you to take action by helping you to further understand various issues and by making you a more empathetic and understanding person.
- Expand Your Network
Opportunities to connect in person are extremely limited right now due to the pandemic, but that's where technology comes in. Social media is an amazing platform to connect with other young people who are interested in activism. I've had so many eye-opening conversations in the comments of a social media post; there are so many other people out there who are passionate about the same causes. In addition, many organizations have been holding virtual workshops, protests, and Zooms, which can be amazing opportunities for you to connect with more people. It's definitely not the same as meeting people in person, but it's a really good way to broaden your perspective and have conversations you wouldn't be able to have normally.
Volunteering is hands-down the best method to get involved in activism. While the pandemic has taken away many in-person opportunities, many organizations are offering online alternatives for you to volunteer your time and effort without putting yourself or others at risk. A really good place to start is a non-profit organization that is involved in a cause that you are passionate about. These organizations also generally make it extremely easy to find and get connected with different opportunities. Another way to get involved (and my favorite personally) with election season here is to volunteer on a congressional campaign. With so many candidates out there, you are sure to find one who is passionate about the issues that you are passionate about and who has a platform that you agree with. Many candidates are actively looking for younger people to support them and are more than happy to have you help out. Whatever you choose, whether you have five hours or five minutes, just know that the fact that you are willing to dedicate your time and effort to a cause shows that you genuinely want change, and that is the foundation of activism.
- Start an Initiative Yourself
While you do NOT have to start a nonprofit to get involved in activism, you don't have to let fear deter you from doing so if that's what you want to do. Starting a nonprofit, a club, or another initiative is surprisingly doable, especially in the middle of a pandemic. The amount of initiatives I've seen pop up since quarantine is honestly astounding, and most of them are entirely student-led, some by people as young as freshmen in high school! If that many people can do it successfully, so can you! I know it seems daunting, but the activism community is extremely receptive to new initiatives, so just know that if you decide to go this route, you'll have a whole network of people supporting and guiding you along the way. Even if you have no experience, they will do whatever it takes to help you succeed, so don't be scared. Just go for it. Trust me.
- Use Your Voice
Regardless of whether you are involved in other ways or not, speaking out is the most important part of getting involved in activism. Change can't happen unless you initiate it. Be the one to speak up, to fight back. Have those difficult conversations with the people around you. Do what you can to educate your community. Sign petitions. Go to (socially distanced!) protests. Even something as small as a post on social media can have a huge impact and inspire people to take action on an issue. So, use your platform to speak for something bigger than yourself. This is hands-down the most important thing you can do.
The world of activism can be terrifying, to say the least. And that's without a pandemic in the mix. But just know that your effort, no matter how big or how small, matters. Anything you can do to help truly does make a difference - whether that's a post on social media, taking a class to educate yourself, or starting a fully fledged movement. So do what you can. You truly are making the world a better place.