Recently, the killing of George Floyd has brought the Black Lives Matter movement back into the public eye. Something about this moment feels unprecedented, but it’s important to remember that this isn’t the first time police brutality in America has led to widespread protests across the country.
This moment is important, but the most crucial takeaway is the long term change/awareness of our own biases and internalized racism. After the news cycle moves on and the black squares on Instagram fade into the background, we can’t just forget about the problems we’ve become aware of. It is not enough to simply not be racist. We must be actively anti-racist every day.
As I’m sure you’ve heard, one of the best things we can do right now is to actively educate ourselves and have potentially hard conversations with our friends and family. Non-Black people of color are not exempt from having to learn about our own biases and the history of this country. Thanks to the internet, there’s so much we can do to educate ourselves instead of putting the burden on our Black friends to explain things to us.
This is not an exhaustive guide by any means. There are many amazing resources circulating on social media, and this is not meant to replace them. However, I’ve noticed that some people are feeling overwhelmed by the number of articles, books, and documentaries they haven’t read. I hope that this post, compiled with the help of Siddhi Bhat and many friends who have shared on social media, can be the little push you need to start digging deeper.
I’m not perfect, and I’m still learning too. Please join me in that learning.
Key points in the video (time stamped hyperlinks)
- Why rioting? Why not peacefully protest? (0:50)
- Why do you think white privilege exists? (3:19)
- Amy Cooper (4:57)
- Why can’t non-Black people say the n-word? (6:03)
- What about Black-on-Black crime? (7:33)
- Ahmaud Arbery (7:54)
- All lives matter? (8:21)
For more Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, check out his channel.
“All lives matter”
Why you should stop saying “all lives matter,” explained in 9 different ways by German Lopez of Vox
Key Points from this article:
- saying “Black lives matter” is not a statement about other lives not mattering
- “There are some implicit words that precede “Black Lives Matter,” and they go something like this: Because of the brutalizing and killing of Black people at the hands of the police and the indifference of society in general and the criminal justice system in particular, it is important that we say that…”
I’m not Black but I don’t feel privileged…am I still?
White privilege doesn’t mean your life hasn’t been hard. It just means the color of your skin isn’t one of the things that makes it harder.UNKnown
Many people have used this quote to explain privilege, and it’s worth repeating. If you’re struggling to see how you are privileged, I invite you to read this essay by Peggy McIntosh which unpacks practical ways that white privilege impacts daily life.
Many resources about privilege are directed at white people, but non-Black people of color also have varying amounts of privilege. Acknowledging privilege doesn’t invalidate your struggles in other areas of life. It doesn’t even mean your life is easy now.
Defund/Abolish the police?
One potential solution for police brutality is defunding and/or abolishing the police. Contrary to how it may sound, this is not a call to move toward a free-for-all where everyone does what they want. Instead, people want to reallocate money currently spent on police to community resources which would deter crime before it happens and shift society away from a carceral method of responding to crime.
Defund and abolish are both charged words, and you don’t necessarily have to agree with these policies. However, it’s important to learn what they really stand for (and the rationale/history behind them) before you come to a conclusion.
This guide from Broad Recognition explains the history behind policing, what it looks like now, and answers FAQs about police abolition and other important issues.
Key points from this article:
- Police brutality against Black people is not just a flaw in the system that can be fixed through reform. The whole institution of policing came out of slave patrols designed to oppress Black people
- While police might make you feel safe, this isn’t the case for many communities of BIPOC
- Reforming the rules doesn’t work if police don’t follow them, and it hasn’t worked in the past
- The case for abolition is not just to get rid of something people think isn’t working but to transform the very way we as a society relate to crime
For a general overview of what’s going on right now, check out this New York Times article on what defunding or disbanding police would really mean.
Key points from this article:
- Defunding the police typically entails allocating money spent on police departments to other areas of need in cities
- Many activists hope to shift money to programs related to mental health, public housing, and education
- There’s a diversity of ideas for how to rethink policing
- Some leaders propose demilitarizing the police and changing police tactics used against protestors
- Some want to end no-knock warrants
- Austin (Texas), Eugene (Oregan), and Camden (New Jersey) are a few cities that have already revamped their policing system in the past few years
- In Austin, 911 callers are asked if they need police, fire, or mental health services
- Nine members of the Minneapolis City Council have pledged to dismantle the police department, but they say it will take a long time to implement this change
What can I do?
Even if you can’t go protest, there are still things you can do from home. Register to vote! Use your platform to speak out against racism. Call/or text your representative to demand justice. Have uncomfortable conversations with friends and family about what you’re learning.
Link: ways you can help
Donate! Either with money or with views
If for some reason you feel uncomfortable donating to bail funds, consider donating to help Black-owned businesses rebuild or education initiative funds.
Additionally, you can also make intentional choices to shop at Black-owned businesses in the long term.
Donate with views
If you don’t have money to donate, you can donate by watching videos from creators who have pledged to donate their ad revenue to various organizations.
Please make sure you have your adblock turned off and don’t skip the ads!
Does signing petitions even do anything?
Short answer, yes if you let it. Here’s an article from the Washington Post that explains that even if petitions don’t change the target’s mind, they change yours and recruit more people for the cause. Signing petitions might not do anything if that’s all you do, but by giving organizers your contact info and learning about what you’re supporting, you can get more involved.
Continue to learn and listen
This google doc with links to books, article, videos, activities, and questions to prompt reflection organized by different beliefs you may hold/things you might be feeling. You can identify with a category on the left and find specific resources for you.
- If you’d like to be an ally, read this guide on how to ally by Rahshemah Wise
The doc has practical tips/things to keep in mind, vocab explanations, reading recommendations, and quotes from books with commentary.