As individuals, we each possess the ability and power to change the world around us.
It’s been a week since George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was the victim of police brutality and suffered fatal injuries in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His death follows the tragic losses of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sean Reed, Tony McDade and many others at the hands of systemic racism, and has ignited an onset of public outrage and eventually sparked intensified protests in cities all over the country. The American people are demanding justice. They’re taking to social media, taking to the streets, and standing up for the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
What can you do?
It’s so easy to feel helpless, but it doesn’t matter how young you are, what state you live in, whether you have five followers or five million followers; you can always choose love over hate, educate yourself, and demand justice. Here are six small things you can do to make a big difference.
1. Use your voice. Desmond Tutu once said, “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Conversations about racial inequality and the ongoing injustices people of color face every day can be uncomfortable, but speaking up is the first step in making a difference. Talk to your family members, talk to your friends, and talk to strangers. Silence will not bring about social change.
2. Carry out those conversations offline too. Posting viral images and quotes to your Instagram Story is a great start, but it’s important to be equally as active away from your phone screen as well. Social media provides us all with a platform to share and connect — in struggles, in achievements, and in everything in between — but it also encourages performative activism. Challenge yourself to have the courage to bring those IG posts to life with action.
3. Donate. While several organizations — like the Minnesota Freedom Fund and the Brooklyn Bail Fund — have recently called for donors to redirect their donations to elsewhere due to an overwhelming outpouring of support, there are many non-profits in need.
The Bail Project aims to mitigate incarceration rates through bail reform.
Reclaim The Block works to refocus community improvement into the communities instead of law enforcement in Minneapolis.
The NAACP Legal Defense Fund supports racial justice through advocacy, litigation, and education.
Communities United Against Police Brutality operates a crisis hotline and offers legal, medical and psychological resource referrals.
The Know Your Rights Camp, an organization founded by Colin Kaepernick, provides education and training in black and brown communities.
4. Sign petitions. Following George Floyd’s tragic death, four Minneapolis police officers were fired, including Derek Chauvin, the officer shown kneeling on Floyd’s neck in the graphic video. Chauvin has since been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter, while the other officers present during the fatal arrest remain under investigation. Text FLOYD to 55156 to demand that those involved are charged with murder.
5. Educate yourself. In this situation, ignorance is most definitely not bliss. Better yourself and better your community by furthering your understanding of the historical context race plays in this country. If you’re a reader, Ijeoma Oluo’s “So You Want To Talk About Race” and Robin Diangelo’s “White Fragility” are great places to start, but simply opening your mind up to different perspectives, asking questions, and actively pursuing a stronger knowledge base are just as important steps.
6. Reflect. Just because you’re not a person of color doesn’t mean this doesn’t involve you. In fact, it actually means quite the opposite. Take some time to consider how your race has played into your own upbringing. In what ways has your proximity to whiteness granted you certain privileges? How have you subconsciously been conditioned to believe rhetoric that supports the superiority of whiteness? What are you currently doing to better understand both the historical context of race and the present day effect of that history?
In the words of Angela Davis: “In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist.” The time to take accountability and to be positive forces is far past due. Learn more at NAACP.org.