It was hard to imagine 2020 being any worse, and then the country erupted over the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Communities have watched in horror as protests have boiled over into riots and confrontations with heavily armed police and national guard troops. In a summer that already felt uncertain, the civil unrest adds a layer of foreboding that may seem almost impossible to bear. But you can counter that feeling of helplessness with action.
Student activism has long been the catalyst for political and societal change. Many movements that have been dramatically advanced by student action. No matter your political, social or personal beliefs, college is usually a place where you can find like-minded friends. It can also be a place where your beliefs are challenged. You can advance anti-racism or another cause safely with some of the following strategies.
Educate yourself! Being informed is the first and perhaps most important step to advocacy.
Vote! Suffice it to say, the November election may be one of the most pivotal in the country’s history. This may be your first chance to vote. Be informed on the candidates (all of them – local and national) and don’t sacrifice your fundamental role in this democracy.
Make your voice heard! Even if you are not old enough to vote, you can still influence others. Campaign for candidates you believe in, advocate for causes that inspire you, share your voice in the classroom, with your friends and family, and on social media. Keep these conversations respectful by being informed (see point 1). Use your skills and talents – be that writing, art, photography, performing, or programming – to tell your story.
Take action! Action is often amplified when people come together. Join a group or club of like-minded students, attend a peaceful protest or demonstration, organize an event for your school or community, create a fundraiser for your cause. Taking action not only furthers your ideals but also builds an individual sense of certainty or control.
Although it is a heavy burden, it’s your generation that is capable of creating societal change. Consider the America you want to live in and the role you want to have in building that community. Upending an entrenched system may seem monumental, but history shows that change does happen. As Gandhi said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” And for now – be safe and take care of yourself and your community.