• La Shawn L. Splane-Wilburn, Founder of Homagi

It's BIGGER Than The Election - Advocacy & Action Will Bring Solutions

We are officially one day away from the 2020 United States Presidential Election, scheduled for Tuesday, November 3, 2020. The country will make a decision about who will be in charge of policymakers, national, and international security.

There is a lot of push to remain neutral or silent as an organization and it's just not who we are. Neutral or silent in the face of oppressive systems, is an endorsement. Many of the systems in place that have caused pain and suffering in Black, Indigenous, and People of Color communities were in place long before the current administration(2020) came into power.

Regardless to whose in office when we all get through this election, we will still have plenty of work to do, deconstructing the systemic and structural systems which cause harm and suffering to at risk communities. During our campaign for 2019, "My Self Care Is Radical", we talked about the need for Structural Respite, which are programs and resources that offer relief from systemic and structural oppression. Changing policy requires allies and people who genuinely care about the quality of life for ALL citizens, but most importantly it requires a lot of physical labor of people who want the changes too. We are stronger corporately. Healthcare isn't just an issue for caregivers, it's an issue for anyone who could one day need the services of a medical professional. Not many people recognize the seriousness of medical insurance until they don't have it. Kinda like, "well it's not my problem, I'm not sick...", until they are and they can't afford it.

Someone not strapped for money may not understand a community member about 20 miles from them, can't take their children to the doctor for a tummy ache because they don't have health insurance, and a potentially severe medical crisis could be prevented if they had medical care.

Advocacy Will Bring Solutions

Eliminating the suffering of people under many of the current policies and laws would require us to "throw the whole country away" and start over fresh. We cant do that so we have to make incremental changes. Until we can create new policies and laws that help not harm. It will not be hard, and it will not be easy prying the fingers of the comfortable and unbothered off the freedoms and liberties of the at risks and impoverished communities. Determination, resiliency, blood, sweat, tears, muscle, allyship, and money are all important and necessary tools for equity. It's easy to fight for something you are personally impacted by. It's also easy to forget there are people who are suffering under the weight of oppressive systems that we don't understand or aren't personally impacted by. How do you become passionate about using your privilege to help impoverished or at risk communities? Maybe understanding the type of advocate you want to be would help to set the foundation to build on. What Type of Advocate Are You? Here are they types of advocacy:

Self Advocacy - An individuals ability to understand their own interests, desires, abilities or inabilities, and speaking out for themselves about what's important to and what impacts them. We as citizens would want people to have a say in how they are treated or mistreated.

Group Advocacy - People with shared experiences and or values who come together and talk about how they can speak collectively on issues or experiences that impact them. In large numbers, they can influence policy and laws together.

Non Instructed Advocacy - Is when a person is unable to give their views or make their own decisions. Sometimes an independent advocate will use what they know about the individual to represent them, secure their rights, well care, and to the best of their ability assure that persons desires are met.

Peer Advocacy - Is support from person to person from advocates with like abilities/disabilities or as a person experiencing the use of services.

Citizen Advocacy - People in local communities come together to give input and make decisions about policy, laws, and any other negative or positive things that could impact their lives and where they live.

Professional Advocacy - Paid advocates. Can offer support and enable people to present their views or concerns. It can be based on an issue, a crisis, or major policy changes.

Advocating for services means ensuring that the people being served are benefitting from those services or resources. It's important for the people on the receiving end of the results of that advocacy have an active voice, or as close to an authentic active voice, in the creation and design of those services. If you haven't been robbed of a quality of life as a result of a poor system of services or absence of them, you do a disservice to the people who have and need solution based approaches and systems.

Taking Action

We don't have to wait until after the election to put together an action plan. Deciding how you want to show up and do the work is what you have to decide. Educating yourself about what local elections are coming up after this election and showing up to vote for candidates who are going to make decisions that don't cause harm and suffering. Voting in Congressional, Midterm, State, and Local elections are all important. Vote. Find people who believe in the same goal of equity as you do and strategize. The only way to make changes that are going to be impactful and increase the quality of life for people is to remain politically active, teach people around you about how important voting is, and encourage young people to stay educated and informed. Success in getting equity and the longevity of it will be determined by the amount of work people are willing to put in. Work must be continuous. Training and mentoring the people in the coming generations will be very important to creating systems that benefit all, not just some.

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