a short guide to this year’s most significant social issues

We’re almost done with 2020, and it’s been such an eventful year for activists. Tens of millions of people have walked the streets to fight for racial justice, celebrate pride, and push for structural change. Young people are more politically active than and social media has become a powerful tool for information, mobilization, and education. A lot is going on in the world right now, and many social issues need our attention.

To make things a little easier, we’ve provided you with a basic breakdown of a few of the social issues that have gained lots of momentum in 2020—and where to learn more or show your support.

Black Lives Matter

Credit: James Eades

Black Lives Matter, or BLM, is a global movement that affirms the lives of Black individuals and fights against white supremacy, police brutality directed towards Black communities, and other forms of systemic oppression. In turn, the BLM movement amplifies Black voices, continuously taking steps toward Black liberation.

Notable events in 2020:

  • The deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor prompted a wave of protests in all 50 states and international cities such as London, Amsterdam, Hong Kong, and Sydney.
  • With 15 to 26 million protesters across the US, BLM is said to be the “largest movement in US history.”
  • Following the protests, the City Council of Minneapolis voted unanimously to disband its police department, and “Breonna’s Law” is passed in Louisville, Kentucky, to ban no-knock warrants, among other legislative reforms.
  • #blacklivesmatter and other related hashtags took over social media platforms, shifting the national conversation on police brutality and sparking debate about police reform vs. abolition.

If you want to further the cause:

  • Consider donating to organizations such as the ACLU, Anti-Racism Fund, or Campaign Zero.
  • Amplify Black voices by following Black activists on social media.
  • Continue to educate yourself about this social issue by reading these books or visiting blacklivesmatter.com.
  • Email your local representatives and officials to make your voice heard.
  • Make anti-racism and allyship a part of your daily life—don’t let all the burden rest on the shoulders of Black individuals. Here are 14 everyday actions you can take.

LGBTQ+ Rights

The LGBTQ+ rights movement advocates for the equal rights and inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals. The movement fights against LGBTQ+ discrimination so that LGBTQ+ people can be their whole selves, whether at home, at work, or within the greater community. Pride Month happens every year in June.

Notable events in 2020:

  • On June 15, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that the section of the 1964 Civil Rights Act barring gender discrimination in the workplace must be expanded toprotect gay and transgender people. 
  • The Black Trans Lives Matter movement gained traction; thousands marched in solidarity following the deaths of Tony McDade, Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells, and other Black trans people in June and July.
  • The Trump administration announced that it would overturn Obama-era healthcare protections for transgender people, days after the Supreme Court ruling.
Credit: Mercedes Mehling

If you want tfurther the cause:

  •  Become a member or volunteer (virtually!) for the Human Rights Campaign.
  • Check out The Marsha P. Johnson Institute, The Okra Project, or the TGI Justice Project to learn more about the social issues surrounding Black LGBTQ+ lives and donate.
  • Learn how to be a better ally by watching this PBS episode to learn the history behind pride month, practicing gender-inclusive language, including pronouns in email signatures for school and work, and speaking out against anti-LGBTQ+ jokes.

 


Climate Change

Climate change is a prolonged, significant change in global temperatures or other climate factors. Human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels or deforestation, are contributing to the rising global temperatures. The effects of these changes include rising sea levels, melting ice caps, and wildfires. 

Credit: Jon Tyson

Notable events in 2020:

  • 2020 is predicted to be one of the hottest years on record, according to organizations like NASA and Berkeley Earth.
  • Coastal cities across the US saw record-high flooding levels, a trend expected to continue into 2021.
  • On July 14, future president Joe Biden revealed a $2 trillion plan to combat climate change and increase the use of clean energy. The plan will emphasize the agenda outlined in the Green New Deal.

If you want tfurther the cause:

  • Reduce your carbon footprint. For example, you can cut down your personal waste by using reusable—not disposable—dinnerware. If you are ordering take-out food due to quarantine, try cleaning the food containers for future use.
  • Contact your state representatives to urge them to take action on climate change.
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