This is the day for you to call elected officials and ask them what they are doing to end racism and racial violence. Utilize the guide for creating a successful plea/call to action to make your phone calls and letters/emails more impactful.
Links to access contact information for state and federal officials are provided. For city officials, you can access contact information by visiting the website for your city hall, or calling your city hall and requesting contact with your Mayor's office or your city council representative.
Contacting Your Elected Officials
The first step to advocating for racial justice is knowing who to contact. You can use this link below to find the name and contact information for your State and Federal level Representatives and Senators, and even your local level officials. This is a fantastic tool to be able to search for all of your elected leadership in one place! No need for hours of internet searches to find the information you need. This resource also has a link on the page for contacting Tribal governments.
Creating a Successful Campaign or Call to Action
Taking the step of contacting elected leaders at any level of government about an injustice or cause is such a fantastic step in advocacy and allyship. But it can also be intimidating. Having an idea of what can make your campaign or call to action impactful can go a long way in easing some of that anxiety and uncertainty about where to start, that can often make people not start at all.
While I can't tell you what to write, because I don't know what issues are specific to your community, I can give you some guidance for how to format your thoughts, which you can then use as a script for making phone calls, or for sending letters and emails to address the issues that matter to you and your community the most.
KEEP IT BRIEF
Keep letters to one page. Try to discuss only one bill or issue in a letter.
Begin with an introduction of yourself or the organization on whose behalf you are writing. Use a simple statement, such as "My name is _________. I am a nurse at _______ hospital in (City/State)". This is very important. Make yourself real and tie yourself to the community. Identifying who you are and what you do, can also become part of your plea...
FIND YOUR POINT, AND MAKE IT QUICKLY
Follow your introduction with a brief statement of your issue or concern, such as "I am asking you to take action to address the dumping of chemical waste in (neighborhood/barrio). This area is home to predominately (name group)"
Now, here is where you tie in yourself and what you do to make it more personal- "As a nurse, I see every day the impact of this chemical waste on the health of the people living in (neighborhood/barrio). I want to know why this community of color is being targeted with the dumping of chemicals. What are you, our elected Senator/Representative/Legislator/Mayor/etc. going to do to stop this targeting of my people of color as the site for dumping chemical waste? What are you doing to do to stop this environmental racism?"
If you are writing in reference to a specific bill, include the bill number. Follow your opening paragraph with a concise explanation of why you support or oppose the particular bill or issue.
And remember, a few strong points is much more impactful than a long list of grievances. Bullet points can be effective in keeping you on track, and can also make your letter easier to read and digest.
RELATE IT TO HOME
Help the legislator/elected official understand why your position is important to his or her constituents. If you are writing about a specific bill, include specific facts about how a bill will impact others in your profession, your neighbors, your community. In general, try to related the issue to your specific community. Even if you are writing about more of a broad national concern, such as police brutality, you can still tie it to your community and ensure that your plea is personal.
ALLOW FOR FOLLOW-UP
Include specific contact information and offer to act as a resource should the legislator or staff have questions or need additional information.
E-mail can be an easy and effective tool for communicating with legislators. The tips outlined above for writing letters to legislators also apply to e-mails: keep them brief and to the point, with facts and anecdotes relevant to the legislator's district.
Resist the temptation to use the informal language and symbols often associated with e-mail communications.
Include your full address and zip code — Make sure the text of your e-mail includes your full name and street address, including zip code. Many legislative offices screen e-mails for address information identifying the sender as a constituent. E-mails that appear to come from outside the district are unlikely to be read and may be blocked by filtering programs.
While you're likely to be passionate about the pleas you make, it is important to remember not to use abusive language. It is very likely that your plea will be moved to the side should you use derogatory language or make threats. Being assertive, and even demanding action is perfectly appropriate, but make sure that the point or your plea doesn't get lost in your emotion.
A final important point- Elected officials are focused on their constituents. If you live in Kansas, but are writing to the Georgia governor about an issue impacting Georgians, it is likely your plea will be filed aside. Now, that being said, National campaigns focused on a local issue, for example pressuring for charges in the Ahmaud Arbery murder case, or other civil rights related issues, can be effective, as it creates an urgent sense of pressure, but in general, local and state level officials, and Federal officials, are going to prioritize the voices of their constituents.
Now that you have a framework for how to construct your plea/call to action, it's time for you to get started!