The “Not Cute” Truth about Social Change: Rules of Engagement
The summer is hot and so are the people. We’ve been stuck in the house and socially distant.
Our usual escapes are closed. Other countries are either laughing at us or shaking their heads.
There is increased violence in households, on social media, and definitely out in the streets.
And, people are dying.
It looks like change is coming, but it is as defiantly slow as ever.
“I angry about things, then go on and work.” -Toni Morrison
Today, I wanted to touch on violence between people actively seeking change on social media and the streets. There has been more violence and that’s no good.
I’m hoping that these tips will contribute to ongoing conversations around how we engage with one another right now:
Things to keep in mind…….
- We are in the midst of a potentially deadly pandemic. The average person is suffering inconveniences and loss of many important things and connections.
Therefore, the average person is growing very weary right now. This is a time of great uncertainty for folks.
People are working with less. They have less patience, mental energy, and resources to share with others.
Most people are doing the best that they can under the current treacherous circumstances.
- Nearly every ignored, oppressed, overlooked, minoritized, group is seeking change, advancement, and long overdue human rights.
- Silence is an enemy to social change and advancement. People have to have discussions, but not every platform is the best platform for certain conversations.
- .More often than not, members of other oppressed groups do not hold the key to your rights. Trying to force one person who isn’t a family member, employer, or person of real consequence to your way of life is wasted time & energy.
- Please keep in mind that people have pressures you don’t even know about: Financial, health, illness, children, family members, loss of income, lack of sleep, anxiety, depression, PTSD, suicidal loved ones, traumatic anniversaries, etc…. Be easy. Please, try very hard to handle people with care right now.
- Physical violence, threats of harm are not just against the law; acts of physical violence can undo progress and draw public support from your cause. Physical violence can bring legal troubles, fees, and consequences that you can’t afford.
- As people actively seeking social change, we can’t protest & decry “violence” against another minority/oppressed group, while fully supporting physical violence against other minoritized groups. Every group is fighting against violence.
- Most people have issues, lives, and concerns that fall outside of their work to advance social change.
Not everyone will be able to support your issue/cause as actively as you may hope.
It can be helpful to offer several options that allow people to support your cause at various levels.
Still, social change is a marathon.
Remember that people have responsibilities, concerns, other causes that impact their lives.
Often it’s not personal, it is just necessary for people to pace themselves.
- Make sure that you are targeting the right folks to get what you want. Are the changes that you seek more effectively addressed at the local level of government, the state level, the federal level, individual institutions, or private owners?
- Social media has done some awesome wonders to advance social change. Still, social media is not a one-size-fits-all tool. There are other tools available. They work too.
Note: With the exception of work/school, no one is required to participate in social media conversations. You can even stop communicating mid-conversation if you need to step back for self-care.
- Someone disagreeing with you or “not obeying you” is NOT….. NOT….. NOT……… a reason to point a gun at someone, make a verbal threat of harm, bully others, or physically assault someone.
Possible consequences for these actions include loss of employment (present & future), arrest, jail/prison, fines, legal costs, loss of relationships, loss of custody of children, loss of income, suspension from educational institutions, rejection from educational institutions, injury, lawsuit, death.
- It’s helpful to keep in mind that individual groups with similar concerns are a good thing to do before tackling individuals/groups that do not agree with you.
A supportive environment where you don’t feel silenced or pressured allows individuals to ask questions without as much fear of judgment.
A supportive environment allows participants to gain clarity in a more judgment free zone.
A supportive environment allows participants to practice and learn targeted effective communication with other individuals/groups/cultures they may be less familiar with.
- Most groups are excited about changes that are coming around quickly but also concerned about the pace of social change and what all of this means for them & their loved ones
- Reminder: No matter what the discussion platform is; blocking, muting, and if necessary, reporting features are always there for you.
- We can learn how to talk to one another about difficult issues.
Groups working for human rights in the United States: