5 Ways Immigrants Can Support Social Movements At Home
When I celebrated Nigeria’s independence day on October 1st, I said that there’s nothing like the Nigerian spirit. I believed strongly that my generation has the chance to turn the tide for my country, but also across the African continent. Less than a week later, Nigerian youth TURNED UP! I have followed on social media closely and if I’m being honest, it consumed me, brought me to tears, lack of sleep, and brought me to my knees. It has also brought even greater pride and hope (in some people).
The two past weeks brought the rise of the largest social movement in Nigeria in my lifetime. The 10.20.2020 attack on protesters will be a dark day in our history for years to come. For most of the last two weeks, my social media platform (which is my largest platform to raise awareness) focused on spreading awareness more about the #EndSars youth-led social movement against police brutality in Nigeria.
As citizens abroad we scroll, we watch our homes on ‘fire’ from afar with tears in our eyes wishing that we were on the ground with our brothers and sisters. We must remember that while we cannot be at home, we are not helpless. This is particularly important especially as this movement transitions beyond the physical protests and into something bigger and long term. This awakening is not just happening in Nigeria, but in other countries around the African continent and around the world.
Here are five ways that you can lend your voice to matters happening in your country when you are away from home.
1. Learn And Act
Our power and energy will not yield the results we desire if we remain largely uneducated about the intricacies of the very systems we seek to change. I realized early on that I need to learn more about my country’s constitution, governance, leadership, systems, and everything in between. I owe it to myself to learn so I can be effective in whatever role I chose to play. We cannot be effective by solely relying on sound bites from a few on social media.
We need to be grounded in knowledge, read books, and relearn our history through new eyes. I hate to break it to you, but sometimes living in a country for 20, 30, 50 years of one’s life does not make us experts on the system. Yes, we may have lived experiences but there’s a good chance we have also lived our entire lives unaware of the chess moves behind the scenes. Buy a book, watch a documentary, have good conversations with people from different generations.
2. Remittance – Reach For Your Wallet
Remittance is an amount of money sent from one party to another, usually overseas. These can be personal money transfers to family and friends, or business payments. Many of us (especially those of us from developing countries) often send money to our loved ones for various reasons. Remittances are the largest financial inflow into many developing countries, exceeding international aid. In times like this, though we may not be on the ground, we can support our family and friends financially. We can also donate to vetted organizations on the ground working for the good of the people and in pursuit of the common goal.
3. Lend Your Expertise – You’ve Got Skills!
A third way to lend assistance to social movements would be through your expertise. In times like these, we need the best of us to imagine and deliver a better future. Many of us immigrants are great at what we do all over the world. Writers, doctors, consultants, negotiators, caterers, supply chain specialists, communication specialists, community builders, influencers, engineers, lawyers, policy specialists, graphic designers, event organizers, entertainers, and influencers. Our collective skills are dangerously good, dangerously effective, and they can be dangerously revolutionary. What if we put them to use in the background, working across the different time zones that we live in?
4. Use Social Media As A Tool
Social media can be a tool for good in times like this. While I cannot overemphasize the importance of vetting information before sharing, social media has been the most incredible tool in spreading the word about the #endsars social movement in Nigeria as well as other social movements. If you can’t send funds or lend expertise, will you use your platform to spread awareness? Facebook, Twitter, Tiktok, Instagram, and LinkedIn are free tools for us to use as we see fit to amplify the message of the movement. If we can’t be there, let us put the spotlight on our fellow citizens on the ground, let us amplify the messages to our audience, and let us sign petitions.
5. Use Your Network
Everybody knows somebody that knows somebody. Many citizens abroad come from middle/upper-middle class/upper-class families. This means that through our families, or our peers, we may have access to people with political or economic influence. We are positioned to change the conversations in our Whatsapp groups, friend groups, or even at our dinner tables. We are all influencers, how can we use the strength of our network to educate and influence our countries for the better? Silence is not an option.
Resources To Help You Get Started Now
Nigerian Diasporans Against SARS – Go fund me organized by Nigerians in the Diaspora to collect donations from Nigerians abroad and our friends. This global campaign has raised over $100,000. Donations are no longer accepted since the target was met. Follow along on Instagram at @we.are.ndars, I expect that there’ll be more to come from this group.
SME Support Fund – SME Support fund is calling for donations to provide relief for the most vulnerable small business in Lagos that suffered loss during the lootings. Please send donations to https://paystack.com/pay/smesupport
Donate to AGS Tribe and Phoenix Fund as they support impacted SMEs –
Donate within Nigeria: https://dashboard.flutterwave.com/donate/2pjbwaqcc5m0
Register for #EndSARS Teach-in, led by Nigerian abolitionists across the diaspora. The first session is on November 1st, 2020. Register here: https://bit.ly/sarsteachin
Watch the Journey of An African Colony on Netflix to learn about Nigeria’s colonial history. Eye-opening!
(This section will be updated with more learning resources such as books, resources, and teach-ins)
Tell An Impacted Small Business To Apply
Stanbic IBTC Grant – Deadline, Friday, October 30th
AGS Tribe Phoenix Fund – for grants of up to N500,000 and capacity development https://www.agstribe.org//phoenixfund
My biggest fear isn’t dying or losing money or being broke. One of my biggest fears is not being physically present when those that mean the most to me need me the most. As Nigerians/ Namibians/ Cameroonians/ Congolese/ ‘insert country here’ abroad, it has felt like we are living out that fear in these times.
Immigrants may not be able to go out and protest with our peers (depending on where you are), but we should always remember that our lives are platforms. My expertise can be used a form of protest, my network can be used as a platform, my social media pages, this corner of the internet, and my savings can support the protests. Immigrants have roles to play in social movements. Decide on one or two. Play those roles/use those tools today and tomorrow, and the day after.
I want to hold space for us to mourn the heartbreak of this season, the loss of lives and livelihood, and our collective disappointment in our leadership. If you can, please take a break to process, go offline if you need to.
To our brothers and sisters on the ground in Nigeria, Namibia, Congo, Cameroon, Thailand, and beyond, THANK YOU. To those that rose up to lead with courage, we see you; we honor you for displaying the courage we didn’t know existed amongst us. We are writing our history this time, and we will remember you for good. You inspire us, and we will do our part by working alongside you.
The marathon continues!
Dee O. O.