“This didn’t just happen. The marriage equality movement is an amazing testament that America can change, and we can change it.” –@lauraolin
On Saturday, fireworks will light up the night sky and people will chant “USA! USA!” Some will do so even harder this year because, you guys, we had such a big week last week. For the first time in a long time, the week felt like a win. A big win. It’s weeks like this that give us hope, that inspire us and that tell us that, no matter how dark things seem, we [the people] can flip the switch and light things up.
President Obama beamed and millions of Americans sighed in relief as the Affordable Care Act came through the Supreme Court intact. Rainbows streamed across the internet when marriage equality was declared the law of the land. And across the country, tears streamed down the faces of countless people who had waited for this day for a long, long time. And now the country that we love and the people we love can love who they want to love. #LoveWins
Don’t you just love it?
Isn’t that something worth noting? In addition to proving that people could find a billion different rainbow-themed gifs and Someecards declaring their excitement in hilarious ways, the ruling brought one important fact to life: That people CAN change the world if they’re engaged with their government.
And THIS is why we do the work we do at Black Sheep. We believe when people are civically engaged, that is, when people are involved in the policies that govern our society and participate with the people making those laws, great changes can happen.
BUT (yes, that’s a big but) when this kind of epic and substantial change happens, some folks are going to be spoilsports. The victory isn’t “Hey! This happened—we’re done! Let’s sit back and enjoy the summer,” it’s an ongoing battle to make sure that America is a place for everyone, regardless of their race, religion, gender identity or sexual preference. And that means that, to paraphrase RuPaul, “We betta work.”
While you plan your Fourth of July cookouts and pool parties this week, ask yourself how you can embody the “home of the brave” while keeping the “land of the free” part of America’s promise true, too. That starts with getting involved in what’s happening in the world around you. Here are three ways you can fight the good fight and make an impact.
Before you get involved, you have to know what’s going on. Pick up the paper, click around on your local news sites and check out advocacy groups that represent important issues—having well-rounded knowledge about the issues will shed some light on what’s happening in the world around you.
Show Up, Stand Up
Well behaved women/men/people rarely make history. And there’s no bigger way to misbehave than shouting (LOUDLY!) about something you believe in. You can go solo (Hello, Bree Newsome) or you can put that “right to peaceably assemble” to good use. Large groups of impassioned citizens, peacefully speaking their minds and holding policy makers accountable have created a sea of change that goes back to the very beginning of our country. Find a cause you identify with, join an advocacy group and rally with the group by speaking at city council, showing up for events and educating others.
Your voice is CRITICAL in raising issues that matter and making sure they get in front of the people making decisions. This is especially true of issues of civil and human rights. Everyone deserves dignity, respect and equality in the eyes of the law—and we can’t let a bunch of jerks try to keep them from receiving it.
Don’t Back Down
Trolls are never going away. People will never stop vilifying those who are different or who have different views than they do. We will always feel like there’s more work to do. But don’t let that overwhelm you. America—heck, the WORLD—needs people who are tenacious, who don’t let things get in their way and who don’t back down when there’s an important issue to support.
The fight for marriage equality was not a sprint, it was a marathon. Those involved wrote letters, showed up at rallies and hoped, believed and fought for years and years to make it a reality. So keep your chin up, keep fighting and keep our country moving forward. America needs you.