Well. What a year 2020 is turning out to be. Who could’ve guessed we’d be simultaneously facing a global pandemic and one of the largest civil rights movements in our history? I suppose it was just a matter of time.
And it’s about time.
So here we are. The wounds of healthcare, the workforce, and systemic racism underneath the numerous scabbed flaws in our system have been exposed raw, and we’re getting a glimpse of what is behind the star-spangled curtain.
The world is watching.
You may feel hopeless during these times. Helpless. Angry. I sure do.
For those of us living with a chronic and autoimmune condition, these feelings are intensified when bundled with our limitations that may prevent us from calling for change in the capacity we would like.
Some of you may be immunocompromised like me. Or have mobility restrictions. Or have other circumstances that might make participating in a protest difficult or dangerous. You might feel like you’re not doing enough.
The good news is: Revolution comes in many forms.
Here’s how you can help (disability not required):
- Educate yourself on the history of institutionalized and systemic racism. Here’s a good place to start.
- Have conversations addressing racism and microaggressions with your family, friends, and coworkers. Here is a helpful article to get the ball rolling. And here is another.
- Buy books with diverse characters and dolls of different skin colors than your own for your children.
- Allow your children to see you use your privilege for good through your words and actions. Do it when your children aren’t looking, too.
- Stop whitewashing history when you teach it to your children and call it out when you see it being done in schools.
- Read books written by BIPOC, like these. Also check out some informational and anti-racial literature on unlearning and relearning history.
- Purchase goods from BIPOC-owned businesses.
- Call or send letters to local politicians and leaders.
- Sign petitions advocating change.
- Help provide bail assistance.
- Pass out water, Gatorade, sunscreen, first aid supplies, goggles, bandanas, etc. to protesters.
- Reach out to local demonstration organizers to find out how you can assist their marchers.
- Help clean up communities that have seen large protests.
- LISTEN to BIPOC voices. Just listen.
- Stop making excuses why you “can’t.”
While these actions seem very much behind-the-scenes (Almost invisible, even. Sound familiar?), they are crucial tools in making a lasting impact against institutionalized racism.
And speaking of invisibility, how many of us have been yelled at and threatened over undetectable disabilities while using our parking placard? How many of us have heard “but you don’t look sick” from people who have no idea what goes on inside our bodies and behind closed doors? Similarly, because the actions suggested above aren’t as overt as participating in a rally, you may face some criticism over what is perceived silence. If you are putting in an effort that goes unseen, don’t take it personally if people, even those who know you and your heart, question or challenge you.
Aren’t many of us with invisible illnesses already accustomed to that?
Head down. Push forward. Inspire change. Focus on elevating silenced voices, and not on the quick and blind judgment of others.
This fight isn’t about you.