Five patriotic acts for the Fourth

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1. Register voters
Like many other states in our unholy union, North Carolina holds a disturbing record for voter disenfranchisement and gross racial gerrymandering. Disenchantment with electoral politics and stale politicians is real, but so are the ever-rippling consequences of electoral outcomes. Abstention isn’t cute when it places others in mortal peril, and we can all do our part to drive that message home for the people in our lives while educating and assisting. If you want to take protecting the franchise to the next level, consider training and volunteering with organizations like Democracy NC.

2. Plan a more intentional get-together
It’s time to ditch the straws, y’all. Washing dishes for dozens is not fun so — if you must — opt to purchase the most environmentally-friendly party goods within your budget. There’s no real method for truly ethical consumption under capitalism anyway, so until a new world order sets in just do your best to buy from indigenous and black-owned businesses every day of the year. Today, consider placing a donation jar for a justice-oriented organization of your choice between the slaw and voter registration forms.

3. Donate
Better yet, give the gift of sustainability by signing up for a monthly donation with nonprofits and charities with proven track records. This is a particularly appropriate option for white folks who aren’t sure what to do — movements need funding and we need to do more than talk about reparations. Seek out organizations dedicated to uplifting marginalized folks both in mission and within their leadership.

4. Volunteer
Don’t have much expendable income? Homeless and domestic violence shelters, food pantries, community gardens, diaper banks, hospices, libraries, public schools, political campaigns and national parks all need our help. If you can’t perform intense or extended physical labor, consider what skills or knowledge you can share with your community. We can all contribute.

5. Vocalize and act on righteous dissent
Confront your representatives. Take to the streets. Call in family members, friends, work colleagues and that guy on the sidewalk whenever possible, particularly if you are a person with more social power relative to others in a situation. Dissent in the name of justice is crucial for a healthy democracy and the moral arc of the universe never bent toward justice without pressure from sustainable mass movements.

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