1. Call (don’t write, email, or tweet) your local officials and representatives.
Emily Ellsworth, a former staff member for a Utah politician, took to Twitter to explain the best way to get your local representatives to notice your concerns. She claimed that emails, letters, and tweets were easy to ignore “But, phone calls! That was a thing that shook up our office from time. One time, a radio host gave out our district office phone # on air. He was against our immigration policy and told our constituents to call. And they did. All. Day. Long. All I did all day was answer phones. It was exhausting and you can bet my bosses heard about it. We had discussions because of that call to action.”
You can find the contact information and phone numbers for your local representatives here.
2. Petition your university to become a “sanctuary campus.”
After the results of the U.S. election, universities like University of Wisconsin-Madison, the University of California, Yale, Pomona College, (my proud alma mater) Brown University, and more have all created petitions to become a “sanctuary campus” for undocumented students. Professor Elliot Young wrote a piece in the Huffington Post explaining how the concept of a “sanctuary campus” derived from the at least 33 U.S. cities that have already proclaimed themselves sanctuary cities for immigrants.
Though every university petition is unique, all the petitions call for universities to take a strong stance when protecting the rights of undocumented students. Brown University’s petition mentioned “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers are subject to certain restrictions upon entering college campuses unauthorized. This puts the University in a unique position, which it can and should use to protect undocumented community members from law enforcement. It is the duty of this University to ensure that it remains a place that actively protects the rights and safety of its community.”
Check with your university to see if a petition has already been started, or start one yourself based on the examples above.
3. Talk to someone you disagree with.
After the election, the website “www.hifromtheotherside.com” was created to help bridge the communication gap between citizens in the U.S. The website states:
“After the election, many of us have talked about getting out of our immediate circles to talk to someone who supported the other side. Not to convince, but to understand. If this sounds like you, sign up here. We’ll try to match you with someone who supported the other candidate and shoot you two an email introducing you to one another. From there, you can find a time to have a phone call, video chat, or even meet in person.”
For many of us, we don’t have to reach out that far. The Establishment published a piece reminding us of an uncomfortable truth: it’s not necessarily strangers who elected the next president. It’s our friends and relatives. There has never been a more imperative time to speak with them.
4. Educate yourself.
With the internet, there really is no excuse for staying ignorant on pressing topics affecting the country right now. Activists have used the internet to spread “syllabi” for people interested in reading more about issues affecting marginalized groups: there’s the black lives matter syllabus, the #PulseOrlandoSyllabus, #standingrocksyllabus, #Charlestonsyllabus, and more. Online publications like Colorlines and Everyday Feminism also provide daily posts about all the “isms” and how others can help.
5. Learn about ways to become a better ally.
During times like these, it’s natural to want to help in any way you can. But it’s important to remember that our ideas of what “helps” a marginalized group may not be what they truly need or want. As allies, it’s important that we are always listening to the people we want to help, to make sure our actions align with their goals. So do your research on what works and what doesn’t.
And remember that allies must be far more proactive than simply posting on Facebook. Learn about the many ways you can show solidarity every single day so that our actions speak louder than our words.
6. Keep protesting.
Protesting sends a message that our current reality should not normalized. You can attend one of the many city protests happening now, or plan to attend others planned for the upcoming months. For example, the Women’s March on Washington is scheduled for January 21st of next year. On Facebook, organizers of the protest said the march is meant to send “a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights. We stand together, recognizing that defending the most marginalized among us is defending all of us.”