By Andrea Price
Rekia Boyd. Freddie Gray. Trayvon Martin. Eric Garner. These are all people whose names will forever be associated with police and vigilante violence. They represent four of the many people throughout this country who have died under the guise of “justice.” Their deaths and the injustices associated with them sparked a call to action that has reverberated internationally.
While the deaths of Boyd, Gray, Martin and Garner helped shine a light on state and vigilante violence as national and international problems, it is important to also address issues on a very local level. We can’t ignore the communities where we live and work because local community improvement and even fighting injustices in our own backyards should be constants, not reactionary occurrences. It’s important to tweet, retweet, like and share images and profound statements that are on the forefront of the global conscious, but actions in our communities are important to make justice where we live a reality, not an afterthought.
Advocacy and activism can be “both/and” on local, national and global levels. They don’t have to be “either/or”. We can demand justice for our slain brothers and sisters globally while we make the places where we live and work just communities.
So, what can be done locally:
1. Stay Woke
We have to know what is going on around us. If we see what can be better, we don’t have to wait for others to give us permission to act. We can observe our environment, read the local news and even talk to our neighbors to get a feel for what we can do where we live. Find others in your community who are willing to commit to creating a better future, plan and be the change that is needed.
2. Demand Transparency
Corruption is a reality in communities throughout the country, but we, the people, can demand transparency. Does your city government have streaming or recorded council meetings? Does your city or local government have a webpage with a repository of searchable documents? Do your local school board members use personal phones or emails for official business? Check out these best practices and compare them to your local community’s practices.
3. Reach Out
Call, write letters, send emails, Facebook, tweet or use whatever mode of communication you prefer to reach out to local officials. Elected officials are chosen to represent us, so it is our responsibility to not only vote, but to share our thoughts, ideas and suggestions with them. Local officials should be responsive to their constituency and if they are not, they should no longer hold office. It is our right and our duty to proactively communicate with those who are chosen to represent us, and it is their responsibility to respond.
Share you thoughts! What actions can we take in our communities to ensure we live in just places?