As I’ve had some time to sort through my thoughts after the ruling in the Michael Dunn case, I’ve noticed that there are so many folks around me who are fired up but have yet to actually take a stand in anything. The more I understand God and His word, the more clarity I am provided around what a Christian’s responsibility is in the cases of Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, or any socially unjust event or circumstance that happens in my lifetime. Isaiah 1:17 says, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” The Bible calls us to be fighters for social justice and defenders of freedom. The stories of Moses and Esther exemplify this call of ours, and I encourage you to spend some time in those books for further revelation and understanding.
What I’ve learned over the past few years is that often people want to do something more after their fire is ignited from an outrageous court ruling or from another senseless murder, but they simply don’t know where to start. Well look no further (ok, you probably should look elsewhere in addition to here, as this is just a starters list lol) BUT, for those of you who may be falling into that gray space, hopefully you can start here. This list is solely based off of the actions that I have taken myself, and would love our readers to chime in with other suggestions! With that forewarning, here you have it, my top 5 ways to be more socially active…
5. READ, READ, READDD!! Reading is SO fundamental! It is nearly impossible to be socially aware and socially active without picking up today’s newspaper or reading the daily news online. We live in a world where virtually everything is at our fingertips. We use our smartphones for everything, so why not throw a news app or two in there and actually open them up once in a while. Download the CNN, BBC, or NY Times apps. Download the apps for your local news sources. Pick up a paper and read it during your commute instead of listening to music. Read and share articles posted to your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Create a book-list using recommendations from socially active friends, higher-profiled activists, or even by asking your local
librarian for his or her recommendations on the topic. Find some cool documentaries on this subject and take time to view them. PBS has incredible series’ for your viewing pleasure so that may be a great place for you to start as well. Essentially, you have to be well versed in what’s happening around you, beyond a surface level understanding. For example, do you really understand “Stand Your Ground” laws? If not, why not read up on it?
4. Write your thoughts, questions, and reflections down after major (or minor) events happen such as the verdicts in the Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis cases. Write down your feelings and take time to process them. If you’re anything like me, I am an extreme introvert and sometimes just need to turn everything and everyone off so I can think in peace. Be aware that the media exacerbates current events for ratings and not necessarily to keep you sane, so turn it off when you’ve had enough. Once you have those thoughts on paper, talk about them with a friend or family member. Start a blog. Post a thoughtful, articulate status on Facebook for others to engage in. Tweet through it! Initiate a discussion with folks who may not know much about what’s been happening in the news. Share what you’ve been reading and spread the word!
3. Attend social action events such as rallies, meetings, marches, etc. Go to a socially active church on some occasions. Volunteer for a local campaign or for a local nonprofit. How do I find out about these things, you ask? USE YOUR SMARTPHONES TO DO SOME SMART RESEARCH! Do a quick Google search for events happening in your area. Download apps such as Eventbrite and MeetUp. Follow socially active leaders on Twitter such as The Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl), NAACP (@NAACP), Dr. Jamal Bryant (@jamalhbryant), Kevin Powell (@kevin_powell), Goldie Taylor (@goldietaylor), etc. It’s so important to support smaller movements, because your support turns them into larger movements. I would also say this includes becoming politically active in your own backyard. Find out when your city council meetings are and attend a few, understand the issues in your community and the folks willing to work on those and go VOTE and encourage others to VOTE, including helping folks to get registered.
2. Make new friends (hopefully from some of the events that you attend) and surround yourself with like-minded individuals. Trust me, if the folks around you are only interested in watching from the sidelines and consistently complaining about the issue, then you will only be compelled to do that too. This is not to say that you have to give up family and friends, but this is to encourage you to meet some new ones, because who knows, you many even inspire the folks closest to you to take action as well! Have conversations with folks about social justice issues and allow others to push you in your thinking. Listen, listen, and listen some more to folks who have been doing this work for a long time.
1. Start your own movement. Ask yourself three questions: What bothers you most about the world around us? What are you most skilled in/what do you love to do? How can you mesh the answers to those two questions together? We were all given a unique and specific purpose in this lifetime and if YOU fail to live out that purpose, no one ever will. Pray on this one as well, because discernment from God will be the only way of being sure that you are operating in your individual call. I encourage you to read 1 Corinthians 12 to learn more about spiritual gifts from God and then check out this awesome site and take a quick quiz to reveal some of your spiritual gifts.
I hope this is a helpful start for those who have been questioning “what can I do to help?”. I would love to be a thought partner for anyone who needs more help thinking through this (especially if you are in the Baltimore area), so leave us a message or your email and we shall connect! Also, if you have other suggestions, feel free to leave them in our comments section for others to read.
Love you all, let’s change the world!