How do I create change in my communities?

As a person belonging to several communities, I think the first step towards creating change is emotional support and companionship. Change can often be difficult to bring about if there is no understanding of the needs and struggles of the members in a community.

I also find it helpful to educate myself about the history of each community I belong to. For instance, I’m South Asian and queer. To create change in these communities, I need to know the historical context for the issues we face. Of course, no community is a monolith and there’s sometimes conflict within, but it always helps to understand where we’re coming from historically.

Being introverted, it is quite challenging for me to create change by interacting with people. I am not the kind of person who can advocate and campaign easily. But what I have found to be helpful is to reserve my social energy for people and groups where it is genuinely needed. I try to create change in my immediate social circles and my family. I try to emotionally support and share resources with people who are struggling with issues like mental illness, discrimination, racism, queerphobia, sexual assault etc. Something that helped me get better at supporting others is starting therapy for my own mental health. I was able to learn how to navigate difficult emotions and stay calm under stress.

Sometimes, the communities I find myself in don’t face problems but instead are the perpetrators. A good example of this is the caste discrimination and anti-Black racism that is so common in Indian families like mine. In these situations, it is usually difficult to challenge my elders especially if they aren’t willing to broaden their worldview. But calmly presenting them with facts and engaging in healthy debate has been helpful.

Another really important method for me to engage with my communities is to participate in protests and sign petitions. It gives me an opportunity to create change beyond my immediate circles and be a part of something bigger. Most social movements I am involved in are based in India but a protest I went to in the U.S. was last year in support of Palestine’s liberation. It’s not possible to single-handedly create any significant change but taking an initiative and even making a small contribution within your communities goes a long way.

One thought on “How do I create change in my communities?

  1. Sayquan Wooden

    Hello Vaishali, I really enjoyed your take on understanding historical context in regards to different communities and how it has affected them based on a multitude of factors. It helps us set forward the basis for communication and creating a level of support and trust within helping and overcoming struggle.

    Another point that I highlighted was you giving your social energy to people and groups when it’s truly needed, specifically to family, friends, and those that have become victims to things such as racism, discrimination, queerphobia, etc. I think it’s very important as it’s already a hardship to communicate due to being introverted, but the fact that you’re willing to overcome it for the sake of others’ help and needs is beyond fulfilling and amazing. In addition, you’re ability to help your own mental health through therapy and similar practices.

    For the majority regardless of community, many past generations of people have generalizations, stigmas, perceived notions on people, topics, and issues that have stuck with them despite a huge change of our society throughout generations. However, it is helpful in a sense to challenge and have productive and civilized discussions about their worldviews in order to engage in healthy dialogue and communication.

    I think that it’s great to have a multi-focus on social movements and fighting issues that are both within and outside of the United States, especially for situations in places that aren’t being covered enough by the media.

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