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How to be an activist in the time of social distancing

By & Divya Amladi
Sandy Stowe/Oxfam

You can still show up even if the coronavirus has you shut in

As the COVID-19 crisis rolls on in our communities and around the globe, it is exposing preexisting inequalities and causing new challenges, especially for the most vulnerable among us. It can feel overwhelming to hear these stories on the news and from friends and family—especially when we’re told to stay at home and isolate ourselves.

You might be wondering how it’s possible to make a difference right now when you’re not able to hit the streets or knock on doors, but there are still many ways to stay engaged and show up for each other.

Here are a few ways you can turn up the pressure and make your voice heard, right from your couch:

1. Register to vote. The most important thing all of us can do right now is get involved and vote in the 2020 general election. If you’re not sure if you’re registered to vote, you can check your registration status.

2. Remind your friends to vote. Once you’re registered, commit to reminding three of your friends to vote.

3. Submit your Census information. This pandemic is exposing the social and economic inequalities within our society and disproportionately affecting communities of color. That’s why it’s important for all of us to be counted. Fill out your Census and remind your friends, family, and followers to do it too.

4. Support the climate movement. If this crisis has shown us anything, it’s that we are capable of making sweeping changes and sacrifices as a global community to save lives. We are pushing leaders to act with urgency when it comes to the climate crisis. You can join the weekly digital strikes on Fridays.

5. Make personal protective equipment. Our frontline health workers are working around the clock to save lives and often without proper equipment. If you have the time and resources, you can learn how to sew or assemble masks. Many communities have initiatives to make, collect, and deliver masks.

6. Spread some cheer. Many cities have regular times to jointly thank essential workers for their service. Track #ClapBecauseWeCare to join from your home.

7. Spring clean for good. Learn about how to reuse, donate, or sell clothes or other items from home.

8. Be an advocate in your own network. We’re all checking in with our friends and loved ones more these days. Talk to your family and friends about the issues you’re passionate about ​​​​​​​and share on your platforms.

9. Volunteer. If you feel comfortable and won’t spread risk doing so, there are still opportunities to help at your local food banks or other local organizations that are being overwhelmed with those in need.

10. Be a resource. We know that gender-based violence is spiking with families forced to stay at home and economic and social stresses accumulating. If someone in your circle reaches out to you, know what tools you can point them to.

11. Start an online fundraiser to provide essentials, such as safe water, hygiene kits, and hygiene promotion training to those are most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19.

12. Be an ally. The coronavirus is shining a light on how US systems discriminate against marginalized communities, particularly people of color, gender-diverse, and LGBTQIA individuals. Pride parades may be cancelled this year and stay-at-home orders may keep you from rallying against the rise in hate crimes in person, but there’s still so much you can do to show up. Spread tolerance and support your local LGBTQIA organizations.

13. Raise your voice! There are a lot of ways you can still let our leaders know how you feel on the issues you care about:

Tell Congress to protect the most vulnerable

Demand that grocery store workers get paid sick leave

Tell USAID now is not the time to cut aid to Yemen, especially as the country braces for COVID-19

For those of us who are lucky enough to stay home during this tumultuous time, we have seen that distancing and isolation does not have to equal social disconnection. We can reach out and show up for our communities. This is especially true when it comes to the issues we’re passionate about. If we stay connected and mobilized, we can still make a difference.

One day, we'll be back in the streets, and until then, stay home and stay safe.

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