Enacting Change Now
I'd like to start off by saying I have no idea what to say.
I've had a lot of doubts about writing something like this because I don't feel like I'm the person to be telling you what to do. My privilege has led me to a point where I will never understand what the people of this movement are going through, have gone through for their entire lives. Nothing I can say is enough, nothing I can do is enough - but I must do something. And you can bet your ass that I'm going to work for the rest of my life to do better and to be better.
This past week, I've been absolutely overwhelmed with information. I've gone through waves of trying to understand, trying to be understood, bouts of empowerment and hopelessness - a constant ebb and flow of juxtaposing emotion. The only thing that has been constant is the amount of energy that I've been putting into those emotions, and I think the same holds true for the majority of people out there. I'm urging you to harness that energy and focus it on enacting change in your area of influence - not just now, but every day going forward.
Getting started is easier than you'd think for such a daunting task. There are a lot of ways to show your support, anything from clicking follow to having uncomfortable, but important conversations with racist people. Anything you do can help, but I urge you to remember a few things along the way. Some people are posting on social media. Some people are protesting in the streets. Some people are donating silently. Some people are educating themselves. Some people are having tough conversations. A revolution has many lanes, be kind to yourself, and to others heading in the same direction. Just keep your foot on the gas.
13th - Netflix
American Son - Netflix
Dear White People - Netflix
If Beale St Could Talk - Hulu
King In The Wilderness - HBO
See You Yesterday - Netflix
The Hate You Give - Cinemax
When They See Us - Netflix
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
How to be an Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
Divided Sisters by Midge Wilson and Kathy Russell
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Fatal Invention by Dorothy Roberts
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
They Can't Kill Us by Wesley Lowery
Locking Up Our Own by James Forman
The Miner's Canary by Lani Guiner and Gerald Torres
The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon
Pod Save The People - Crooked Media
1619 - New York Times
Code Switch - NPR
Intersectionality Matters! hosted by Kimberlé Crenshaw
Momentum: A Race Forward Podcast
Pod For The Cause - Leadership Conf on Civil & Human Rights
There are a myriad petitions out there - one signature can make a big impact. Check out any of these below and join the movement.
There are plenty of organizations out there doing good and enacting change, below is a list of reputable funds. Consider asking your employer about recurring matches for donations long-term.
Contact Your Elected Officials
A great way to focus your energy right now is to contact members of legislation and let them know your thoughts on all of this - systemic racism, police brutality, actions of our Administration...your options are virtually endless. Getting a hold of politicians is easier now than it's ever been, all it takes is a text message. I've been using ResistBot (send "resist" to 50409) and sending emails to Congress all by typing in a text message.
Another important cause I'd like to highlight and add to your list is the #8cantwait movement. There are 8 policies that can decrease violence by 72% if all are enacted.
Ban chokeholds and strangleholds
Require warning before shooting
Exhaust all alternatives before shooting
Duty to intervene
Ban shooting at moving vehicles
Establish use of force continuum
Require all force to be reported
Pretty reasonable requests, considering people's lives are on the line. I was naive enough to think that some of those were a give-in if you're handling a firearm. Turns out, Milwaukee still needs to enact:
Banning chokeholds and strangleholds
Exhausting all alternatives before shooting (this one feels like a sick joke)
Banning shooting at vehicles
Requiring all force to be reported (unbelievable)
If that upsets you, you can contact Mayor Tom Barrett by calling 414-286-2200, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweeting here. Or you can add it to your list of letters you plan to send via ResistBot.
You're fired up and maybe you're confronting people now, but will you continue in a few weeks? Months? While it's important to have these conversations now, it's even more so down the road. Build up your responses to racism. It's important to have well reasoned replies rather than emotional counters in the heat of the moment. Figure out your responses, "if they do this, I will say this".
Questions to Ask Yourself
How can you be actively anti-racist instead of simply "not racist"?
What can you do to support POC in your community?
How do you plan on helping the fight to end racial discrimination and systemic oppression?
How can you use anti-racist knowledge to change and progress conversations with friends, family, colleagues, and peers?
What are your local politician's policies on ending police brutality?
When were you taught about race and culture?
It's important to remember that you can't learn everything right now. What you can learn is to find the answers for yourself - take the time to actually look it up. Use multiple sources. Don't stop because you're uncomfortable. Form your own opinions based on what you learn. Act. You're probably making a lot of mistakes right now - and that's ok, you're a human and you're not alone - but don't stop. Sit with it. Share it with everyone around you - especially those that look like you. The goal is not to say, "I don't see color". You need to say, "I see your color, and I acknowledge the injustices you face because of it".
Showing up imperfectly is better than not showing up at all. Just please keep going.