I was in tears this week. Stories about the separated families at the border made me so very upset. There are so many issues that make my blood boil these days – topics around school shootings, and defunding of women’s health centers, and the prospects of trade wars and alienating our allies. But truly, nothing could be more devastating than hearing about children being ripped from their parents’ arms and put in cages. CAGES!
The worst part was, I felt totally powerless. It’s not like I could go to the detention centers and just hand the kids back to their parents. What could I DO to fix the problem? It wasn’t enough to get upset, there had to be more that I could do. So I called my senators and congresswoman. I signed petitions. And then I broke down in tears, telling Dean that I wished I could DO something to help these families. He reminded me that I WAS doing something. So here are some ways that I’m trying to help, and how you can help, too.
Help separated families by donating to causes
This isn’t going to work for everyone, and let’s all please accept that. I’ve seen lots of amazing fundraisers online, and if you have money to spare, I urge you to please donate.
Personally, I donated to this one on Facebook. They are helping detained migrants post bail and ensuring that all children have legal advocates. But they have also created this incredibly useful document with other organizations trying to help, so you can find one that fits in with your ideals and priorities.
Any amount can help, so even if you forgo a coffee and donate those couple bucks to the cause, you are really helping. I wish in moments like these that I had more money, more cash that I could part with to help with the effort. But don’t be embarrassed or worried about the amount you can donate. If every person who cared gave a dollar, all these organizations would have millions in the bank.
But remember that organizations don’t only need cash, they can also use volunteers, organizers, administrators and other helpers. If you can’t donate money but you can spare some time, volunteer your time and skills to help organizations. If you’re a lawyer, I really hope you’re doing anything you can to help out the ACLU, but even if you’re not, these guys need graphic designers, community managers, and interpreters, so put your skills to use.
Sign petitions, make calls, march
I think I’ve signed three or four petitions at this point, maybe more. These are directed against different individuals, and it’s helpful to sign. I know, they seem meaningless at times – no one seems to listen and it’s really frustrating. But signing petitions is a tangible way that you can lend your name to the cause.
Making calls is another. The ACLU makes this really easy. Simply go to their site here and you can input your phone number and zip code. It will automatically place the call to your senators for you, and the site gives you a script of what to say when you get through. Even if you just leave a message, these calls are counted. Literally – you can read how your calls make a difference here.
Then there is marching. I was honestly too afraid to march recently during the education and gun safety marches. I was worried that I would lose my kid in the crowd seeing as she’s a toddler who likes to run off. But everything I do with her lately feels tinged with what separated families might be feeling or going through. When I hug her after a nightmare, I feel on the verge of tears for the children and parents who can’t do just that. So I’ve decided to take my white privilege for a spin and go to my local march on June 30th.
Read, share and read some more
News agencies report on things that get readers and listeners. Sometimes, this can be ridiculous, as the news focuses on celebrity gossip or other fluff. But by reading the stories and watching the videos of what’s happening with families on the border, it shows media outlets that you want more reporting on this.
The same goes for signal boosting those articles on social media. Even if you only have a few followers on Twitter, or a few friends on Facebook, your voice matters. Share the articles, share your opinion. Maybe someone reads a post and finally learns what’s happening. Maybe an article appears in someone’s feed that wouldn’t otherwise because YOUR voice is the one that can get through to them. Speak up and share.
Make your art, whatever that means
Maybe you paint, or write, or make videos. Maybe you live a life that only you could live. There are so many ways to make art, to spread the creative and universal voice that’s inside you. Whether it’s a photo or a well-timed meme, a well-argued video or a piece of fiction, there are so many ways to use what’s going on as inspiration. So go for it. Write the words, paint the image, share your voice with the world.
An individual voice speaking out against something might seem small, might seem powerless. But together, we can rise up and resist. We can show these parents and children that we aren’t all like this. That they are seen and remembered. We can use our voice to speak for those who can’t. No action is too small. Spread the word, speak to your friends, sign the petitions and donate if you can. We can all save the world and help the separated families by joining together.