With the midterm elections happening right around the corner, it’s imperative now more than ever that we go out and vote. However, while a vote can push us to actively engage in social issues, there are 364 days out of the rest of the year where we can choose to show up, get involved, and make a difference. Even though politics can feel overwhelming to think about, there’s no right or wrong way to begin your journey with activism. So while the thought of figuring out exactly what you want to fight for can make your head spin, Chinae Alexander and her lovely team thought it might be a good idea to answer a few political questions (via here and her badass newsletter, The Latest) to help guide in a direction to could help
That’s why for the third installment of “Ask Chinae,” we’re digging deep into the world of politics. From social movements to political activism groups, Chinae is answering it all. Scroll below to get a full scope of these topics and make sure to sign up for her newsletter to get a little more advice in your life.
How do you compare igniting social movements with “influencer” work?
In this day and age, I think they are almost one and the same. It’s been widely studied and proven that humans respond to a group mentality when it comes to making choices. Sometimes, unfortunately, that means group investment into things like waist-trainers or skinny teas but more importantly, influence can convince us to care about issues and further educate ourselves to keep up with norms and the social ethos. We all have influence; it’s not based on a number of followers or views…I wish more people would understand their responsibility in having a platform, whether that be 10 people or 1 million.
How do you even begin to get involved without feeling overwhelmed?
– Asked by over 15 people
As a person who wants to run around putting out fires, I hear this so clearly. For me personally, I think that we need to combine an overall social awareness with a targeted interest in a cause (or two). Not only does this give us more expertise in the issues we care about, but it helps with that overwhelmed feeling. You also become a great resource for others on a particular issue or cause. For me, the issues I care about the most are ones involving women and POC. It’s not that I don’t care about the environment or other social issues—I just choose to use my platform, finances, and time to lean into those more intentionally while being mindful of the rest and doing what I can. We are human, we can’t do everything all at once. By realizing our limits, we enable ourselves to dive in. Go deep, not wide.
How do I make a difference without involving money?
The easiest thing to do for most people is to financially participate…the harder, but perhaps more gratifying, work is on the ground. If you’re upset by our political climate, attend a phone bank for candidates that you feel move the country in the right direction. If you love the environment, do a beach clean-up or set up opportunities on campus to educate people about environmental activism. If you have a heart for women and children, collect extra beauty products from friends and family and drive them over to a women’s shelter. These things are all done with no money and make huge differences in our world.
What are some great political activism groups in NYC/BK?
Some political activism groups/nonprofits in NYC are:
New York City Anti-Violence Project: “AVP helps survivors of violence and allies become advocates for safety through participation in community education and outreach, development of organizing campaigns, and the creation and support of city, state and national coalitions to address LGBTQ and HIV-affected violence.”
She Should Run: “She Should Run is a non-partisan 501(c)3 with the mission to expand the talent pool of women running for office in the United States.”
Everytown for Gun Safety: “Everytown for Gun Safety is a movement of Americans fighting for common-sense reforms to reduce gun violence.”
The Urban Justice Center: “The Urban Justice Center is a social justice advocacy organization that works for and empowers the most vulnerable amongst us through a combination of direct legal service, systemic advocacy, community education, and political organizing.”
What do you think is the most important social issue right now?
We find ourselves in an extremely tough point in history and so much is hanging in the balance. I think the most important social issue is the one that rises up in you…the one that makes it impossible to stay quiet. If we all worked hard to undo the injustices we individually feel passionate about, I think we’ll get somewhere. The planet, women’s issues, racial equality, political justice, and LGBTQ+ rights, etc. are all equally important, but what’s paramount is what we will commit to do about each.
Feature image via Chinae Alexander