This year’s elections were devastating and will have a lasting effect on all of our lives. If you’re like me, you’ve been cycling through the stages of grief, and you feel a little bit lost. It’s hard to know what to do next. But, once we’re done crying and mourning, it’s time to put our actions where our sadness, fear and rage are.
If you want to know what you can do next, you can always do a quick Google search, but here’s a list of tangible things we can do to fight for our rights, our values, and our future.
If you have the financial capabilities, even if that means $5, here are some great organizations that have been and will be working to make lives better.
The American Civil Liberties Union — The ACLU works to “defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties that the Constitution and the laws of the United States guarantee everyone in this country.”
Black Lives Matter — “Black Lives Matter is a chapter-based national organization working for the validity of Black life.” BLM is “working to (re)build the Black liberation movement.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights — The CRR “has used the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right that all governments are legally obligated to protect, respect and fulfill.”
National Center for Transgender Equality — “The NCTE is the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization winning life-saving change for transgender people.”
Council on American-Islamic Relations — “CAIR’s mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.”
Southern Poverty Law Center — “The SPLC is dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society. Using litigation, education and other forms of advocacy, the SPLC works toward the day when the ideals of equal justice and equal opportunity will be a reality.”
National Immigration Law Center — NILC “is one of the leading organizations in the U.S. exclusively dedicated to defending and advancing the rights of low-income immigrants.”
Freedom University — Freedom U “provides tuition-free education, college application and scholarship assistance and social movement leadership training to undocumented students banned from public higher education in Georgia.”
Human Rights Campaign — “HRC is the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans.”
Planned Parenthood — “The mission of Planned Parenthood is to provide comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services in settings which preserve and protect the essential privacy and rights of each individual, to advocate public policies which guarantee these rights and ensure access to such services and to provide educational programs.”
EMILY’s List — An organization that is dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office, up and down the ballot.
The Trevor Project — “The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24.”
TheDream.US — “TheDream.US is the nation’s largest college access and success program for DREAMers.”
Esperanza LA — “Esperanza works to educate, defend, and advocate for immigrants as they navigate the complex immigration system.”
Immigrant Defense Project — “Immigrant Defense Project protects and expands the rights of all immigrants, focusing on those who are accused or convicted of crimes.”
Immigration Equality — “Immigration Equality is the nation’s leading LGBTQ immigrant rights organization.” They “represent and advocate for people from around the world fleeing violence, abuse and persecution because of their sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV status.”
The Innocence Project — “The Innocence Project exonerates the wrongly convicted through DNA testing and reforms the criminal justice system to prevent future injustices.”
Kids in Need of Defense — “KIND staff and pro bono attorney partners at law firms, corporations and law schools nationwide represent unaccompanied immigrant and refugee children in their deportation proceedings.”
NAACP — The mission of the NAACP is to “ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate race-based discrimination.”
NARAL Pro- Choice America — NARAL is a “national organization advocating for and providing comprehensive information on reproductive rights in the U.S.”
Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network — RAINN “created and operated the National Sexual Assault Hotline” and operated the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense.” “RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.”
Trans Lifeline — “Trans Lifeline works to end transgender suicide and improve overall mental health of transgender people through education, advocacy and direct service.”
This list does not include all of the organizations that have been doing the work that needs to be done, but it is a good place to start. However, financial donation is not the only way that you can make a difference. It’s important to get involved at the state and local level as well.
This presidential election is not the first election, and it will not be the last. Political campaigns will start soon for 2018 and there are some states and cities that have off-year elections in 2017 (like Boston). Local politics have a great impact on your daily life, so research when your local elections are and see who is running for office. If there is a candidate that you support, contact their office and see how you can contribute to the campaign. Political campaigns are always in need of volunteers to canvass, phone bank and get the word out on behalf of the candidate.
Besides political work, there are many shelters, charities, NGOs, clinics and other organizations that need your time and skills. In Northampton and surrounding areas, there are many NGOs and organizations that may need volunteers. The Clean Water Action Project, The Northampton Survival Center, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Safe Passage, the Center for New Americans and the schools in the area are just some of the places that may need your volunteer time. When in doubt, the Smith College Community Service Office (CSO) is an accessible resource for any student looking to get involved in the community.
This article only outlines a few ways that you can get involved. If you want to act in tangible ways just look around you and find something you want to protect and preserve. This also includes taking care of one another and making sure you stand up for people who are being harassed. It is important to not be a bystander to racism, homophobia, transphobia or any other form of harassment. We all can work harder to make sure we keep one another safe. A racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic man might be our president-elect, but every small action is a step towards a country that will one day work for all of its people.