7 Ways To Provide Hope To Your Community That Are More Effective Than Protesting (#AltonSterling and #PhilandoCastile)

Did anyone else wake up the day after the shootings and feel like they had they hope knocked out of them?

Not one, but two shoots in less than two days. I couldn't help but mourn. I was useless, felt defeated and had no clear direction of what to do. Did all of last year's protests for #BlackLivesMatter go to waste? Does my life, my father's life, my brothers' life really not matter? Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were both murdered and there is no justification. Many people took to the streets to do the only thing that we have known to do and protest.

While protesting does receive national attention for the moment, what does it do for the next generation? 

So far, it has mostly put protesters in jail and prison, which in turn increased many city's budgets to hire more same police officers and makes the company's that invest in private prisons more wealthy.

We have to think smarter.
We, as American citizens,  have so much power and we are not reaching our full potential by solely protesting and posting on social media. As a unit, we need to brainstorm how we can make a lasting impact. Here are 7 ideas that I believe are far more effective than protesting alone.

1. Help The Families Affected Directly
Public influencers and activists have been amazingly helpful in providing an avenue for those who want to directly donate to the family of the victims. Director, Issa Rae has created a GoFundMe to provide college tuition for Alton Sterling's Family and activist Xavier L. Burgin also created a GoFundMe for Philando Castile's family.

2. Be Cautious In What Companies You Give Your Money To
Do you know which companies are investing in private prisons, whether directly or indirectly. I'll give you a hint: a lot of them are probably in your closets and pantries. Money is power and power should be given to the people in our communities.
Support your local small businesses and check out these lists of Black-owned businesses
- The Ultimate List Of Online Black-Owned Businesses by Category
- How To Shop Black-Owned Businesses For Everyday Life
- 43 Black-Owned Businesses That Cater To The Carefree, Quirky Black Woman
*Still want to help, but don't have the funds? 
Here are 6 FREE Ways To Help Black-Owned Businesses. You can also support entrepreneurs such as Black bloggers and Black YouTubers for free.

3. Mentor At-Risk Youth
One thing that I didn't realize that I had as a privilege was 'hope'. No matter what life looks like, I have enough internal hope to know that I can dream and accomplish at least some of those goals. It wasn't until I started volunteering with at-risk youth and interacting with their parents that I realized that not everyone grows up in a household that encourages them to reach their full potential. This is where hopelessness and crime meet corners. Get involved in local ministries or volunteers with organizations such as Big Brother Bis Sister, Boys and Girl's Club, YMCA/YWCA, Steve Harvey's Foundation, GRIP Outreach for Youth, foster care agencies and schools in your community.

4. Give To Crowdfunding Projects In Your Community
There may be initiatives in your community that could be providing education and after-school activities to youth, or making your community a safer place. Make sure to check out websites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, GoFundMe and BBNOMICS.

5. Collaborate With Existing Initiatives
A lot of people like what I call the "Founder Effect" which is the acknowledgement and fame that comes from starting an initiative. The problem with this is that many people in our community have the same idea. With everyone starting their own organizations instead of providing their expertise to existing organizations, grand impact is not made. If you find out that someone else has your same idea, work together with them so that a bigger change in our communities can be seen.

6. Host a Meet Up For Like-Minded Individuals
People are angry and passionate, but are not sure what to do. Provide an avenue for passionate people in your community to come together over dinner and talk about a solution.

7. Get Involved in Your Local Government
In order for real change to occur, laws need to change. Make sure that your community is registered to vote, attend town meetings and figure out ways to reach your state politicians.

Hopefully this will be an ongoing conversation. How do you plan to help your community?

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Quirky, Brown Love is a media outlet for quirky, brown millennials. EST 2014.

Email Bryanda Law, Editor-in-Chief