COLUMN: Ask Ashley

What’s next, more specifically, what’s ensuing after Election Day? I’ll let you in on a secret: no matter the outcome, our job is not finished. There is still work that needs to be done and conversations that need to be had. Our fight for social justice, dismantling oppressive systems and creating a government that is representative of the American people will always be an active fight. With that being said, let’s discuss the ways in which we can take individual action to actively work toward a better future.

Let’s start with something we can all do: talk. We can have candid conversations with our colleagues, friends and family both in person and virtually. This dialogue will allow us to keep the uncomfortable but necessary conversations going. We can continue to reflect on the ways we currently think while being open to new perspectives of those around us. When having these conversations it’s important to be respectful. Listen to what the other person is saying more than worrying about what you’re going to say next and ultimately be straightforward.

Listening to what the other person has to say allows you to broaden your perspective on the topic at hand, it also shows your willingness to be patient and understand where they are coming from. Being fully attentive in a conversation also allows you to pick up on all the points they are making and will allow you to thoughtfully address them in your response.

Another way we can all do something moving forward after the election is by continuing to educate ourselves. This can be as simple as watching documentaries on Netflix; Ava DuVernay’s “13th” and “When They See Us” are two great ones to start with covering the interrelation of racial injustice and the criminal justice system. Additionally, the docuseries “Explained” on Netflix addresses multiple hot-topic issues. Most recently a series has been released focusing on voting.  

You can also grab a book to read on nearly any and every topic you want to learn more about from another perspective. Not much of a reader? That’s alright, if you’re on social media there’s plenty of accounts that stay up to date with the news and current topics that create informational graphics.

Following these accounts make current events and difficult topics more palatable and easier to understand. For example, many Instagram accounts will break down topics such as the electoral college, the Supreme Court, climate change, xenophobia, the list goes on. It’s important to interact with accounts that get their information from reliable and legitimate sources. Most of the time these accounts will cite their sources. This way you can double-check their work if you’re not entirely certain. 

What else can you do? Take action starting with your local politicians. Now is the time to hold local politicians accountable for the party platform they ran on during election season. You can do this by attending town halls or local government meetings, whether they are in person (make sure it’s COVID-friendly) or via Zoom. This is a space you can express your thoughts on policies being made and voice your concern to help positively change your community. You can also challenge the agenda at hand and make sure it is aligned with the platform they ran on. If speaking at a town hall doesn’t interest you, you can also make phone calls and write letters to your local politicians expressing your thoughts. Keep in mind, the politicians in your local communities are the individuals enacting policies that will result in the direct change you see in your community.

No matter the outcome of the election, our work is not done. We must continue talking and listening to each other, educating ourselves, and holding local politicians responsible for the party platforms they ran on.

The views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect those of The Torch. 

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