Sometimes I feel like I am living in an alternative world where I am watching this current one pass by my eyes, constantly reaching out and pressing buttons but unable to change the course of time. I spend a lot of time writing articles, calling and writing to members of the government, protesting, and setting up long-term actions, but it has become a mountain, and one that often feels quite isolating.
If you reside outside of the US I’m sure you are watching events unfold with wide eyes, partly assuming it can’t be that bad, partly relieved that you don’t live here, and also wondering what you can do to help. I wrote an article a few weeks ago on how you can specifically help reunify children that have been separated at the border with their parents. In today’s article I have also added areas where you can help whether you are a US citizen or not, because human rights violations affect us all.
As an immigrant mother of US-born and mixed race children, I am all the more concerned about where this country is heading in terms of both domestic and foreign policies. I am also concerned about many people find it relatively easy to switch off and pretend nothing is happening around us. In my heart I feel that we all have a role to play in ensuring that future generations have a better, safer, and cleaner environment to thrive in than we currently have. But if we continue to make the same mistakes over and over again how can we aspire to a better future? This is my main reason for never backing down and never shutting up.
I’ve put together a few things that those who are looking for ways to help, make their voices heard, and act, may find helpful. Please feel free to add your own in the comments below!
Protests & Actions
Join protests and actions near you: you don’t have to be part of a specific activist group to join in, or even know anybody. I find that joining communities on Facebook that are aligned with my views gives me an overview of what is going on in my area, including rallies, protests, fundraisers, and community parties.
(And Trump is visiting England this week, and I’ve heard there are tons of protests popping up over the country!)
Here are some resources I find helpful:
Writing & Calling
Of course not everybody is able to physically join protests, and I understand that they are also not for everybody. There are loads of other things that can be done from home, on your phone or computer. I love Resistbot in the US for contacting my representatives, and many local and country-wide organizations are always looking for people to volunteer. Organization newsletters can point you in the right direction too, and provide contact information for members who live near you who may appreciate help. As a writer I offer my writing, editing, and research skills to different organizations. Maybe you have a skill that can find a good home too?
There are so many petitions going around, and sometimes it feels like the simple act of signing something may not really help anything, but it does! In the UK for example, anyone can petition parliament, and if their petition makes it to 10,000 signatures it will be considered for debate. You can also petition the White House, although you need to get 100,000 signatures for a response. Amnesty International and Change.org are other places where you can make your voice heard via your signature.
This fact check is a good way to help determine what is legit and what isn’t, especially as there are so many petitions flying around nowadays!
It sometimes feels that everyone is asking for money (especially political candidates), and most people can’t afford to donate much at any time. When I do have a bit to donate I tend to send it to areas that are very important to me (immigrant rights, women’s rights, refugee rights etc.). I can’t vote here in the US but I do try to align myself with local candidates I feel are fighting for real change. So I might donate a few dollars here and there if I feel like they will help.
In the case of migrant children who have forcibly been removed from their families, raising awareness is great, but money is the one way to help parents get their children back as fast as possible. The current zero tolerance law makes it so that migrants are put in jail and slapped with a bond that can go as high as $25,000. If that bond is paid the detainee can be released on bail until their hearing, and in the meantime fight to get their child(ren) back. This cannot be done while they are in jail.
RAICES is working on reuniting children with their parents, and is a legitimate organization to donate to.
(You can find more information on zero tolerance and family separation here).
Choose your targets
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel pulled in all types of different directions. As a social justice warrior it can feel like there are so many issues to fight for, that we lose track of what we are really fighting for. I’m a huge list maker, so I give myself task lists for the week and try to accomplish something every day, but it’s not easy! That’s why I think that if we choose one or two issues to focus on at a time we are more apt to actually help.
One area where I am having a hard time is finding others who I can connect with in my city. We haven’t lived here very long, and that alone is quite isolating. I find it a bit daunting to just walk up to people and introduce myself so I have been trying to make local friends online first within different activist groups. That way I feel a lot less alone when I’m out at protests. I never had this issue before I had kids, but motherhood has stripped away a lot of my hard-earned confidence, so I’m a work in progress there!
I know that we may not all have the same political views, or look at the world in the same way, but I think that we can all agree that we want our kids to grow up in a world where refugees and migrants are welcome everywhere, where black lives matter, where women’s bodies are not regulated, where it doesn’t matter what your sexual and/or gender identities are, where we all care equally for our environment, where mental illness is not a taboo word, and so on and so forth. I believe that if we all not only stand up together against hate but actively fight against it, love WILL win.
Jade Anna Hughes is a writer, poet, mother of three, immigrant, and activist. You can find her work and portfolio over on her website.