If you were one of the 150 million people that voted in the 2020 General Election, thank you for participating in our democracy! Regardless of whether you were a first time voter or a seasoned pro, the election was most likely on your mind until the race was officially called. This election cycle was a rollercoaster of emotions and now we can celebrate our hard work and be hopeful for the future with the Biden/Harris Administration’s support for protecting and expanding reproductive rights.
With the election over, it’s the perfect time to shift into advocacy beyond voting. A good starting point for more advocacy work is to get to know your elected officials on the local, state, and federal level. If you’re not sure who represents you in the NH legislature, you can check here. Your elected officials introduce, vote on, and potentially pass legislation that can positively or negatively impact you and your community. They are in office to serve you, so don’t be afraid to call/write their offices or attend a (virtual) town hall to express your opinion.
Talking to legislators or taking action can be intimidating. Volunteering with a local organization, like Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund, allows you to stand up for the things you believe in while being surrounded by other people that share your common interest. PPNHAF has Monthly Meetings for volunteers to get updates on the status of reproductive rights in New Hampshire and ways for Granite Staters to get involved. Click here to sign up for PPNHAF’s Monthly Meeting. Volunteering opportunities with PPNHAF in the coming months include in testifying before the legislature, calling elected officials, writing letters to the editor in local newspapers, or sharing stories.
Building a community of like-minded individuals is one of the most important aspects when trying to enact substantial, positive change. This can happen in a lot of different ways, including volunteering, mutual aid, reading, or just talking about the things you care about with your friends and family. Mutual aid has deep roots in Black, Indigenous, and immigrant communities and is a voluntary, reciprocal exchange of resources and services for mutual benefit. Examples of mutual aid can be food drives and distribution, donating time or money to people in your community, or providing resources to those who need them. Reading books by authors that are a part of communities you want to advocate for is a great way to learn about their experiences and invest in those communities you care about (especially if you’re able to order from an independent bookstore). You can use the information you learn to start conversations with your loved ones and friends. No matter what the outcome of the conversations, you can be proud in knowing you tried to have meaningful discussions about what’s to come in the future.
Showing up to stand up for the issues you care about can look different for everyone. Advocacy doesn’t always have to be a huge statement. It could be protecting the people that have been marginalized around you in your workplace or town or something as simple as signing a petition. Thinking critically about the situations around you can reveal the privileges you may have taken for granted and “showing up” may look like advocating for the dismantling of that privilege or providing equitable resources for those who do not have that privilege. If an injustice happens in your daily life, think about how you can support the person or people that have been marginalized. If you decide to attend a protest, think about the reasons for why you’re protesting or how you can center the people experiencing injustice in future advocacy. In any event of injustice, it is essential to know your rights and the rights of others.
I am encouraging you to take action and stand up for what you believe in because as Senator Bernie Sanders once said, “It is better to show up than to give up."