Text CLAIRE FISHER
EDITING LARA HELENA
PHOTO DONNY JIANG
When asked about the future, most people will skip right to visions of flying cars or cool new gadgets. But there’s no need to shoot that far. When I think of the future, one idea shines brighter than all the others: community. The future shaped by community is multi-faceted, current trends can’t quite deny a soft resurfacing of communist ideas, or the strengthening influence of ‘the gay agenda’ and an ever diversifying populace. The truth is, the uprising of communal processes and behaviors are slowly phasing out the need for government assistance, largely funded security systems, or even childcare. Community is right around the corner, both literally and physically, and it draws the strength to benefit everyone from the participation of each individual.
If you’re active on social media these days, you’ve probably seen an increase in the amount of GoFundMe links or PayPal and CashApp accounts listed in user profiles. Is this a result of more people needing financial help? A new trend? Or do people simply trust in the aspect of community above government assistance when they need an extra hand? The future is leaning toward the latter. As a result of social justice movements being more widely-circulated on social media, more and more people are feeling comfortable relying on an online community to provide them with the help that was previously granted by government institutions. As we edge toward a communal goal of increased self-sufficiency in times of need, we build a stronger sense of community–both online and off–that we can call on for monetary help, protection and security, childcare, and advice.
During the early stages of the pandemic, everyone who was eligible for financial support (for example the United States’ stimulus checks, or similar benefit programs in other countries) benefited from the extra help, whether or not their livelihood depended on it. However, when the checks stopped being automatically deposited, many that desperately needed them turned to social media. Posting GoFundMe or personal donation links is by no means novel, but the frequency with which they are employed these days is. Online users feel more comfortable than ever relying on their curated communities for help, and that help is granted. Even if financial support cannot be given directly, virtual word-of-mouth gets the job done just as well. Retweeting and spreading these links for the purpose of getting the cry for help to the ears of someone with the means to spare is just as beneficial for the original poster. Moreover, those who donate do not have to have an exceptionally high income in order to make a difference–actually, quite the opposite. Parallel to the surge of help needed, communities are learning to set aside a portion of their disposable income (however small) each month in order to give back. The community carries the burden as a whole, so whether the amount is $1 or $1000, it is a weight lifted off of everyone’s shoulders.
This trust placed in community is visible as well in who we choose to keep those communities safe. With each tragic news story aired and obituary printed, our indifference and lack of empathy toward those ‘in charge’ grows. We have witnessed a rise in awareness regarding police brutality against minority groups. Unfortunately, this is no new theme, we are simply existing in a time where this information is more accessible than ever, thanks to smartphones and social media. It is ignorant and entirely misdirected to expect these communities to feel safe in the hands of the same people responsible for the injustice and abuse they suffer. Instead of funnelling our resources into skewed legal systems that serve to protect only a select few, we need to purge the abuse that still permeates the system. For our communities to truly feel safe, they need to be protected by their own. Taking a page from the book of the revolutionary socialist party of the 1960’s, the Black Panthers, these security systems are not only in place to offer physical protection against violent threats. Safety and stability come in many forms, some of which being food drives and lunch programs. Protecting the community’s children from hunger and allowing them access to a barrier-free education by ensuring that sustenance is never a question is one of many ways security can be found in our future communities.
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Speaking of children, we’ve all heard the African proverb, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. R&B singer and queer icon Kehlani is doing just that by coparenting their daughter, Adeya. This definition of community, in the sense of communal parenting and everyone lending a helping hand to raise the bright minds of tomorrow, is something we can most definitely expect to see more of in the future. As younger generations desire less and less to procreate, those who do make the decision have leaned toward a less conservative parenting style. Queer and trans families, coparenting and domestic partners, surrogates, and polyamorous parents are setting new standards for the way we define family. The most important thing to remember is that biology doesn’t make a family, but love and acceptance most certainly do.
Although change may be slow and sometimes scary, the future is a lot closer than we think. Rather than a radical overhaul of the systems that are currently in place, we are slowly phasing out programs, ideologies, lifestyles, and behaviors that no longer serve us. While making these changes, we are choosing every day to fight a radical fight, no matter how mundane it may seem at the time. We are living through major historical changes and each and every one of us has the power and possibility to be a part of those changes. No matter how or where you align with your community, be sure to give back to those around you and watch the magic unfold.