We’re living in a moment of rapid change. From the pavement to the playing court to the polling place, Black people all over this country are pushing the rest of America to address longstanding bigotry so we can all live and thrive together. Millions of people from all walks of life are rising to that challenge, but we face serious obstacles imposed by COVID-19 and defenders of the unjust policies and practices we’re currently organizing against.
Fortunately, there are a lot of things we can do individually and collectively to protect our communities this year and for the next ten years. Here are five simple things you can do today to protect yourself and your community from attacks on our democracy. They aren’t the only things to do, for sure, but they are critical for building the political power we need to permanently solve the problems we’re protesting right now.
- Get Counted in the 2020 Census ASAP. No matter who you are, where you were born, or if you’re able to vote or not, you count! Every ten years, the population count taken during the census is used to make decisions about how money and power are shared in our country. When Black people don’t get counted, our share of funding and political representation goes to more privileged communities instead of ours, meaning our schools, our health care, our housing, and so many other services we depend on get shortchanged. We can’t afford to be undercounted again, especially as our communities try to survive and recover from COVID-19.
- Register to vote. If you’re not already registered, register ASAP since it’s likely to take longer than normal for registrations to be processed. (And be sure to spell and sign your name the same way every time so your future ballots don’t get rejected!) States are making changes to deal with COVID-19, and there are some bad actors trying to spread confusion and fear about voting. You need to be registered to get the most up-to-date, factual information about how, when, and where you can vote this fall directly from your state and local election officials!
- Check your voter registration status. This is important for all of us, but especially for folks who’ve moved or changed names recently, for folks who haven’t voted before or haven’t voted in a while, and folks living in states that have recently conducted voter purges.
- Request an absentee/mail-in ballot. Voting from home and returning your ballot via mail or drop box is a safe and convenient way to cast a ballot, which is why millions of people are planning to vote this way. To ensure you receive your ballot in time to return it on or before election day, request yours ASAP. In most cases, if you wait until your state’s deadline, your ballot will not arrive in time.
- Get your people to do all of the above, too! These smaller actions add up to massive change, but only when we take them together. It’s going to take millions of us being counted, voting, and protesting in order to build a future where justice is real, so please spread the word.