George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Vanessa Guillén. These are just some of the names that we lifted up this summer, rallying cries to treat people justly and hold individuals responsible for their acts of violence and uncaring towards others.
Whether you care about police brutality, the lack of disease outbreak preparedness or the silencing of sexual harassment victims, there is more you can do than just post on social media.
There have already been some reforms across the States this summer, such as New York increasing transparency of officer misconduct records and Minnesota banning restraints and chokeholds, according to Orion Rummler’s article, “The major police reforms that have been enacted since George Floyd's death.”
In South Carolina, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keel said the division is working towards implementing several reforms, including “annual training with regards to racial diversity, implicit bias, and de-escalation” and involving social workers as “co-responders” in certain types of emergency calls, such as domestic violence and child abuse in an interview with WYFF News 4.
The first step to making positive change is to identify a specific change you want to happen. Take the time to research the issue, see the changes that have already been made, then look at the potential solutions that have been proposed. For example, rather than deciding to fight the giant issue of police brutality, work toward specific solutions, such as advocating for full funding for body cameras or a ban on chokeholds.
Deciding on a few specific policy goals that you want to support gives you better direction and a way to measure progress. Having specific policies or acts you support also shows you are not just caught up in the group mentality, but that you truly want to help advance the cause.
The next step is finding groups that are working toward the same solutions. If there are already active movements, find ways to contribute to what they are doing.
One example of a group you could get involved with is Showing Up for Racial Justice. It supports the Breathe Act that has been proposed to shift funding from police to social services it believes will provide the support needed to the community without promoting violence.
If there is not an active movement, you can find resources to start your own. One such resource is the Leadership Conference Education Fund’s New Era of Public Safety Toolkit, which was made to help people develop their own campaign in support of police reform.
Joining the consistent effort for reform on the issues you care about can require a whole lot of effort and time. For some students, that just isn’t feasible. Still, there are some steps we can take to make progress on these issues.
Barack Obama’s article from early last month, “How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change,” says one of the best ways to support progress on the issues brought to light this summer is to vote, not just in federal elections, but in state and local ones as well, because “the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.”
Posting on social media isn't enough if you really care about and want to support an issue. Go out, show your support and vote.