Looking for a silver lining regarding our current political climate? People are fed up but not giving up.
Civic engagement has increased dramatically since the 2016 U.S. presidential election. According to a Pew survey, 52% of Americans are paying more attention to politics than ever before. Not only are people using social media more as a platform to voice their opinions and raise awareness, but they are literally taking to the streets to protest and counterprotest. There has also been an increase in women and minorities running for office, and more people overall are showing up to vote in elections.
However, is this level of civic engagement enough to change the current power structure? As crucial as it is to be politically aware and cast your ballot on election day, there is another way we can vote and influence the societal structure that we live in: with our wallets.
We are all familiar with the following phrases: “Money makes the world go round,” “Money talks,” “Time is money,” “Money makes a man,” and “Money is power.” It's no coincidence that the English language is full of idioms like these. We live in a capitalistic society. The way we choose to spend our cash represents our values and priorities in life. If we spend our money at businesses that promote inclusivity and equality and not at those with ties to anti-equality groups and politicians, we have a chance to dramatically impact our country's political and social landscape.
This will take some work on your part. You will have to do research surrounding the places you patronize. It may cause you some discomfort and inner turmoil to discover certain facts about the stores you love. Their values may differ drastically from yours, and then you will be forced to make a tough decision: Do you want your money to be used to support inequality and discriminative practices? Take the following examples into consideration:
It might put a bad taste in your mouth the next time you drink a Blue Moon or any beer brewed by MillerCoors to know they have a terrible track record with unions, the LGBT community, and minorities. Furthermore, both [Board Chairman] Pete and Joe Coors have (unsuccessfully) run for political office on platforms that would limit women’s rights.
You might not like that your favorite craft store, Hobby Lobby, took its fight against women's health care all the way to the Supreme Court—and won—claiming that it should be exempt for religious reasons from covering birth control in its employer-sponsored health care plan.
Do you shop at H & M? It’s one of the most well-known brands in the world but is currently in a PR nightmare after featuring a racist ad of a black boy sporting a hoodie with the words "Coolest monkey in the jungle" written on it.
In local news, Chick-fil-A opened its first store in Rochester, MN on February 1st. People camped out in the freezing cold with the hopes of winning free Chick-fil-A for a year. According to GLAAD, Chick-fil-A has donated millions of dollars to anti-gay organizations that, among other things, depict gay people as pedophiles, lobby to make homosexuality illegal, and even go as far to say LGBT individuals should be “exported” out of America. [Although the company did stop supporting these organizations in 2012.]
The good news though is there are plenty of good restaurants and businesses that promote and value inclusion and equality. They are happy to work hard for your hard-earned dollar. Why support a company that is working so hard to deny people their rights?
If you feel overwhelmed and do not know where to start research-wise, do not fear! There are resources available out there for you. For example, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation has a Buyer’s Guide that you can check out before shopping to see if your dollars will go to a business that is committed to workplace equality. Check it out.
“Whether you are buying a cup of coffee or renovating your home, by supporting businesses that support workplace equality you send a powerful message that LGBTQ inclusion is good for the bottom line. We hope that you will use this guide as one component when determining if a business’s social practices make it worthy of your dollars.” –Human Rights Campaign
Remember, money talks…what do you want your wallet to say?