02 Jul Changing the StructureReading Time: 6 minutes
Ways we can take action as individuals and change the social structure we exist in.
Understand the Structure
For me the Black Lives Matter Movement has been a huge wakeup call in terms of understanding the social and political structure of our country. Not the abstract political structure that you learn about in gov-econ class, the very real cultural mythology that is impacting and damaging lives right now.
Deepa Iver is a South Asian American writer, lawyer, and racial justice advocate with an inspiring perspective on social change. Her Social Change Ecosystem is a great visual representation of what we can do as individuals. Any change has to be collective and the beauty is that each individual has their own unique contribution. She talks about people as storytellers, builders, visionaries and healers- all very different roles, and all essential to a social change.
Talk About It
Conversations may not be action but they are the first step to change. The only way we are going to change is together and sharing what we are learning and reflecting and how we can transform is the most powerful tool we have as individuals. It’s not difficult, it’s just conversations. It’s approaching your friends and family and even people you may know less well and seeing who is open to having these sorts of conversations because this questioning is the first step towards change.
We won’t be able to change our prejudices until we address that we have them in the first place.
Although this is a brief synopsis some of the key take aways I got is that our country is far too much in the hands of big corporations. Organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council work as a go between for corporations and legislation and the general public, especially minorities have no voice at all.
This isn’t something new. This is something that has been going on forever and Will Smith puts it bluntly. It’s not getting worse, it’s getting filmed. Be it good or bad everything is on the internet now and the proof is out there. So instead of shying away this is an opportunity to confront the truth. To look at the systems and institutions that have created a racist society, and to look for solutions.
There’s nothing natural about racial hierarchy, It’s an unfair system that humans have made up and if you look at history you can see it unfold again and again.
If anything the hope is that this movement is a chance to better understand. To start anew and rebuilt a system less biased by our own underlying prejudice.
Confirmation of our existence and authentic self expression is the basis of our desire to create and share. Technology is a tool that we often use to confirm our experience. This is neither good or bad but it must be used with awareness or it can be very damaging. There are many ways that we find to express ourselves through the digital world but when something this big is happening it’s important to think about more than our individual existence, to understand that the message that we communicate on social media has it’s own small impact on humanity.
If you’re not already following Black Lives Matter on Instagram that’s a good place to start. I think the beauty of this movement is that it’s not just one person; or even one cause. Be it good or bad we are a digitally connected collective and social media is our platform to spread awareness and plant the first seeds of change.
Check out my post on Black Creators for inspiring influencers in the black community speaking out for anti-racism and sustainability through storytelling and visual arts.
Get Involved Politically
Politics may sound like a heavy subject, and as a young person I can definitely validate that it’s a system that we don’t know enough about. But like everything, a democracy will only function if people believe in it and getting involved politically is a really important action every individual can and really should be taking.
Register to Vote
It’s a drop in the bucket so to speak, but it’s a really important one, and too many young people aren’t voicing our opinions in this way. If you value equality, sustainability and education you should be voting for it, or at least voting for the representatives who will best innact these values.
Make sure you’re registered to vote, especially for early voting and mail by ballot due to exceptional pandemic circumstances. Please send me a message on Instagram @savannah.angela if you have any question, I’m from Arizona and am learning as much as I can right now about voting here.
Our prison systems are in desperate need of reformation and unless the public steps up to create this change it does not seem likely to happen. Just looking at a new of the shocking discoveries I found in the first documentary I watched. Our system is set up to send people to prison, judges were forced to give sentences
Parole (getting out of prison, was taken away as an option), giving the power oner to prosecutors, 95 percent of whom are white and 97 percent of the people in prison have taken a plea bargain out of shear desperation. This is a system that is in desperate need of reform and although it is daunting and disheartening it is also necessary that we take the steps towards change.
The Marshall Project is an inspiring start. As founder Neil Barksy puts it, “We need a broad national effort to recruit and place. Volunteers to educate and counsel incarcerated people.”
Check out their website, it’s a great resource and there are lots of ways to get involved.
ACLU or the American Civil Liberties Union is a great resource. Their goal is to defend and preserve individual rights. Check out their Action Center
for ways to get involved, everything for petition that take a second to sign to the opportunity to organize events for issues you feel called to support.
There are so many great petitions going around right now and it takes less than a minute to sign one.
This is a great list of petitions to start with, and it takes about a second to fill out each one.
Calling major retailers to commit 15% of their shelf space to black owned businesses. The black community account for nearly 15% of the US population but the unfairness of historical context means it’s a lot harder to open and run a business as a black person than a white person.
Supporting black businesses and supporting black people are the ways in which we can rewrite our social structure, and again, Instagram is a great place to discover and support black owned businesses and brands. Check out my post of some of my favorite black owned sustainable fashion labels to get you started.
If You’d Like To Donate
Not all of us have a lot of time and there are lots of varied ways we can contribute. If you would like to donate these organizations are a good place to start.
Black Youth Project 100 is a national organization of Black 18-35 year olds working towards racial justice through direct-action organizing, advocacy and political education.
Equal Justice Initiative provides legal representation to those who are wrongly convicted or unfairly sentenced.
NAACP supports communities of color and creates a structure for colored people to gain political support.
National Urban Fund is an advocacy group working to bring economic empowerment, academic opportunities and civil rights to the underserved in America.