Joe Biden has officially been sworn into office as the 46th president of the United States. Cue applause.
Okay, stop the applause. Many people think that Biden winning the 2020 election meant that somehow everything would get better, the same as they thought when New Years’ rang in everything from 2020 would somehow reset. This is only a step in the right direction (having Trump out of office, that is) but there is still a lot of work to be done to address violence against BIPOC individuals, namely the recurring police brutality incidents and the treatment of indigenous people. We, as a collective, need to continue our efforts to have these conversations in addition to taking tangible action and steps forward. Pressuring and criticizing our new leadership into making the changes we want to see is the only way to advance, and now that we have people in office who are leaning a LITTLE more toward our side than before, it is more of a possibility.
2020 was filled with protests and people on the streets marching for justice and putting the spotlight on the people we have lost and the people who are furthering the oppression of marginalized groups. 2021 needs to continue this energy, if not exceed it, with more involvement and more education on the issues affecting us now.
Elite Daily describes mutual aid as: “The idea behind a mutual aid fund is that members prioritize the needs of the individuals of the community — such as rent, medical bills, cash bail — and allocate the donations to address the highest need first” (Walsh, 2020).
Mutual aid is a way to directly support groups and individuals who need extra support from people who are in a comfortable position to distribute their funds. In the age of social media, it is also quite accessible for us to find others who need support, such as on Instagram where there are pages dedicated to mutual aid funds.
One I have noticed a lot, as a student of a college located in Western Massachusetts, is the Western MA Mutual Aid page, which has a lot of posts requesting donations to various people in need. Another example is the Mutual Aid NYC page which has many resources accepting donations as well. These pages aim to spread awareness to causes in need of funding whether it be local folks who need the money for various reasons, or people who need support because of Covid-19.
Supporting mutual aid, or at the very least reposting requests, is essential, especially for privileged groups who can afford to help out or use the internet without needing to seek out help.
More resources to visit:
- https://mutualaid.carrd.co/ → a website where you can find more information about mutual aid and different places to donate.
- https://www.instagram.com/abolitionpark/ → a group with a focus on Black liberation and spreading awareness of the systemic issues which impact Black people through live protesting and social media.
Mutual aid efforts do count as online support but I felt it deserves its own category because of the immediate impact it can have. We can also contribute by signing petitions online, which are pretty easy to find. This is a master document with a lot of information and resources with petitions to sign, some of which are outdated since it was last updated in December 2020, but there are still some active causes. This is another link with petitions as well, ranging from BLM related issues, to the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, to standing with Hong Kong, and more.
Phonebanking and text banking are also great ways for people to get involved from home. This means to get involved with a specific organization, such as the Sunrise Movement, a group focused on climate justice and intersectionality, to call and text people to spread information. I have been signed up for the Sunrise text notifications, which give me information about rallies and meetings they are holding, both in-person and online. To the right is an older example of one of these texts I have received. As a collective we can either become a part of these movements and volunteer to send out messages like these, or even signing up for a subscription to one is a step forward in educating yourself and staying informed.
Go Out and Protest!
Protesting in the streets is a physical way to get involved with causes that matter, whether it be a BLM gathering, climate change, or housing injustice; all of which are interconnected, relevant issues.
I must add the disclaimer, though, that we are still in the midst of a pandemic and that if you plan on taking action in person, take the proper precautions to protect yourself and your fellow protestors. Also, if you are someone who feels uncomfortable in large crowds or does not feel okay going out to protest because of the pandemic, that is perfectly acceptable and why there are so many other accessible ways to get involved remotely.
To find out about upcoming events, utilize social media and follow pages that are up to date about events. In New York City, there are many pages with active events such as the Upper East Side for Black Lives Matter profile which has gatherings each night. Abolition Park, whom I previously mentioned, also promotes different events on their Instagram stories.
I hope from all of this you have learned about the variety of ways to get involved with different causes and be an active ally in the fight for intersectional justice and a better future. We have to organize within our communities to truly get the results we are chasing. We have a new year ahead of us, new faces in power, new opportunities presented to us for voicing ourselves. All of our words matter toward this journey for accountability, awareness, and action. Take it from our inaugural poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, who’s words captured a nation this week, if not the world.
We have the power in our hands and with our pens and papers to create the momentum to move forward.
Cue applause. For all of us.