Though we all possess different identities, we must be united in seeking equality. It may be easy to express concern solely on issues that directly affect us; however, it is crucial to look beyond ourselves and advocate for issues that work toward a more inclusive society for everyone. When we ignore causes that are critical to others, we indirectly impede progress and make change more difficult. For example, significant laws have an extremely low chance of passing when the majority of the public fails to support it, as those in power can easily disregard those problems. Without using our voices for the issues that affect groups who may not be able to speak up, we play an indirect role in silencing parts of the society we live in. Not only does this result in oppression and a lack of diversity, it goes against the principles on which this country was founded. The Smoke Signal has compiled some of the many issues that may not directly impact us but are important for the well-being of all Americans. For most of these issues that involve laws and bills, contact your representative to advocate for change. Specific advocacy measures are outlined in the blurbs.
The tampon tax refers to the sales tax placed on menstrual products that designates them as “luxury items” in the US despite the fact that women have no choice but to purchase them. Even though it is such a widespread issue, only 10 states in the US have removed the tampon tax. Numerous countries like India, Canada, Great Britain, Kenya, Rwanda, and Australia, many of which were influenced by mass protests and petitions, have either abolished or substantially decreased this tax since the early 2000s. Citizens can influence the government through protests in order to join these countries through sustained protests against a law that highlights female inequality. Students can get involved by supporting organizations such as signing the Free the PERIOD petition or by donating to nonprofit organizations that are committed to taking down the tampon tax, like #HappyPeriod & PERIOD.
DACA and ICE Raids
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a policy that provides Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who come to the United States as children, with work permits and protection from deportation. The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids threaten the parents of Dreamers who are not protected by law. These raids leave immigrants in constant fear that they will be separated from their families. It should be easy for us to empathize with DACA parents who want the best for their children, because many of us have relatives who are immigrants. We should help ICE raid victims by speaking out for the people who cannot do so for themselves. Students who want to make a change can contact members of Congress using guidelines from the National Immigration Forum to advocate for undocumented immigrants.
Ending Police Violence
Though the 14th amendment was passed in 1868 guaranteeing all citizens equal protection under the law, racism has prevailed, manifesting in often racially-charged acts of police brutality. Just last June, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputies shot and killed unarmed Ryan Twyman, a 24-year-old African-American. Officers fired at him 34 times although he was simply reversing his car (as released surveillance camera footage later revealed). We are fortunate to live in an area with a lower crime rate than the national average and little-to-no police violence. Asians tend to have the lowest risk of being shot by the police in their lifetime compared to other ethnic groups, according to Nature, which can contribute to this nescient view on the problems not affecting us. Regardless, a system where African Americans are disproportionately targeted is unjust and exposes the systemic racism that is sadly a constant undertone in American society. Protesting against police brutality demonstrates support for the victims, but it also creates a stir of dialogue that officials cannot ignore. Students can support Campaign Zero and stand in solidarity with targeted communities by donating.
Transgender Military Ban
Starting on April 12, 2019, the Trump Administration banned transgender Americans from serving in the military. This took place 3 years after the Pentagon allowed transgender individuals to join the military openly in 2016. The move was met with widespread controversy and was condemned by more than 56 retired generals and members of Congress. Gender identity should not have any effect on someone’s ability to be a part of the military, and this ban is an example of blatant transphobia. Creating a supportive environment for the transgender community by rallying alongside them can help foster stronger bonds and acceptance by fighting against laws that ostracize transgender citizens. Students can help support the fight against the military ban by donating to the Trevor Project and using their social media platforms to make their voices heard.