It has been less than two weeks since the speech that shook the world. The one that had people creating petitions and had black women and men across the country filled with a newfound–and in many cases rejuvenated–dedication to fighting for the cause, the movement, the people. And in that short time period, the current events in our society, the attacks on black lives, and the turmoil that followed proved to us that not only were Jesse’s words very powerful but, they were very REAL.
While there are many conflicting arguments on what to do next, how to proceed, who our leaders should be, the one thing that remains clear is: The change will have to start in our own communities. Here are some ways you can get involved in making a difference, where you are, right now:
- Volunteer with a youth organization. The saying that it takes a village is true. In times like these, we need to be rallying around our children. Informing, educating, providing positive examples, and being role models. Our children are the future of this world so if we want to make a lasting change it starts there. You can start by reaching out to your local youth organizations and simply donating your time. If you don’t know where to start, check out this list of national youth organizations and contact your local chapter. The important thing here is to just start somewhere.
- Support your local and black owned businesses. One of, if the not the most, powerful ways to support your community is through using your economic power. It’s not enough to just share the links and comment on the posts. You have to back that support with economic action. As the 4th principle of Kwanzaa advises, cooperative economics requires us to “build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and profit from them together.” Technology has made this easy for us with countless black business directories, blog post lists, and even phone apps that can help you find a black owned business to support wherever you are.
- Donate your resources. The easiest way to get involved with your community starts with donating. Whether it’s your time, money, or expertise, donating your resources is key. Grab a few extra groceries and donate to your local food bank. Check out this resource to see which ones are in your area. If you have clothing, toys, or other tangible items that you aren’t using, schedule a salvation army pickup and give them to those in need. Know of a local organization that is doing work that interests you? Donate your natural talents and gifts to their cause. When you see a school, whether it’s your child’s or not, hosting a fundraiser, give a monetary donation. It doesn’t have to be much, but every bit counts.
- Join the Black Lives Matter Movement. Of course, the most recognizable movement at this time is the Black Lives Matter Movement. In light of recent events it can be hard to stay positive regarding protests and getting our voices heard, but we must still fight the good fight through. Black Lives Matter is about more than just protests. They are diligently working within communities to ignite change. Find your local Black Lives Matter chapter and find out what they are doing in your community and help where you can.
- Create the events or programs you wish to see. So many times, we want to reach out, get involved, and make a difference but we can’t quite find the organization, event, or program we’re looking for. That means you need to create it. If you’re looking for it, chances are someone else is too. Our community is calling for leaders, and that’s understandable, but we, each and every one of us, can stand up and be a leader where we are. Tap into your local network, your online communities, and create the change you wish to see.